Cambodia has been in a rapid growth in recent years. The GDP growth rate has kept around 10% since 1993. However, it is not proportional to economic growth and the spread of infrastructure is delayed, so the problem of garbage disposal has become a problem in various parts of Cambodia.
Siem Reap, a town where one of the world heritages, Angkor Wat is located at, has a major problem regarding to trash disposals and management. Garbage is being transported and dumped somewhere far away from the tourist spots.
Kumae's projects is in the village, called Onloung Pi which is about 25 kilometers far away from Siem Reap town. A village which once was full of nature, trees and rice fields has now become as famous as the name, "Garbage Mountain".
Kumae was established in August, 2013 to provide jobs in banana paper production as well as language learning opportunities for those who work at the dumpsite in Onlung Pi village, Siem Reap, Cambodia. We aim to improve the standards of living and education of the people there. Our work is not unilateral, but is firmly founded on mutual trust.
"What kind of occupation do you want to do in the future?" Questionnaires were targets for children working at the dump-side. More than 90% of the children said "I do not know." while the rest said about familiar choices of jobs like teachers, doctors, farmers, working in the dump site. When we asked adults working at the garbage mountain, more than half said that "I do not want to work at the garbage mountain if possible". Because there are not many options of jobs in the village, working near home with family is often chosen over health and safety.
Born in 1993 in Tokyo, raised in Fukuoka Prefecture.
After graduating from high school, I came to visit Cambodia for the first time. I was attracted not by the temples or the dump site but the people of Cambodia that I decided to drop university and came to live in Siem Reap. I was able to go and teach children Japanese at the dump site while I was working for a Japanese tour company. Teaching is not an effective way to have a big change, so I started to make papers out of banana trunks. Now we have 11 women from the dump site working with us. We have come to this point because each and everyone of us believe in possibilities and each other. Kumae, we build trust and trust is built by actions.