These are images that are hard to bear. And yet we want to show them at the end of this report. Because they reflect the reality in Cambodia. The people who live in the slums and dumps of Sihanoukville.
With a current population of around 90,000, Sihanoukville is the fifth largest city in the country. Located on the Gulf of Siam, the city was and is considered a place of hope for tourism, which in Cambodia today is otherwise mainly focused on the Angkor temple complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the other hand, if you travel to Sihanoukville today, you will find one thing in particular: completely oversized apartment buildings and casinos, mostly of Chinese design. Because it is the Chinese who want to establish mass tourism here. Chinese mass tourism – which is characterized by the fact that all income generated here flows directly to the Middle Kingdom.
The same applies to previous and future construction work. Even before the pandemic, there were only a few jobs for the locals here and rarely the opportunity to earn money through typical delivery services.
With no chance of an adequate income, many of the city’s locals are driven to the outskirts, where they live in inhumane conditions in the ever-growing slums and garbage dumps.
Smiling Gecko founder Hannes Schmid is regularly in these slums to find out about the emergency situation, to document and explore the extent to which he can resettle people from here to the area around our campus.
What he sees here is really brutal. Nevertheless, he keeps capturing life on the garbage dumps with his cameras because it is part of everyday life in Cambodia. Please be forewarned when watching the film.