Danny Veys, Basurero “real life”, from PRIVATE 45 – Development. An Ecological Question
I remember living for 7 years just one kilometer from “el basurero de la zone 3”, the dumpster in Guatemala city. As we moved to the house near the basurero, we could actually smell the change of life in the air. Even though it was a larger home than our previous one, we had to lock ourselves in after 8 pm, when the cold breeze of a tropical night brought the smoke of the ever burning dumpster to our door, and breathing was so painful it hurt. As the years passed although we never got used to the smell, we learned to accept it as part of living closer to the heart of a third-world city. I still remember a few nights when I ended up walking closer to the dumpster’s wired fence, and as I walked I could see from a distance not only slow burning flames, but also long casting shadows of people. I began to learn how those individuals had families: grandparents, spouses and all.
Those families formed a community, a hard-working one with shifts, tasks and one-man business operations and that community was part of the same society I dwelled in, taking care of the primitive recycling process typical of a third-world country. I understood that the fact they lived among our solid waste didn’t mean they were the waste of humankind, but even though it seemed that nobody cared about them, that they held an important place in society. Yes, it’s a different world inside the dumpster, but these are human beings trying to make a living from our waste. “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” or so the saying goes. (by Wilmar Mejia, Guatemalan)