LA CHURECA

La Chureca (‘the scavenger’), located in Managua, Nicaragua, was home to one of the largest inhabited dump communities in the world when I traveled there in 2007. It had a population of almost 1700 people who were housed within its walls. Over fifty percent of them were children, some of whom were addicted to glue, worked in the trash, and, on rare occasion, were solicited by truck drivers. It was a permanent community where people often worked for many years as recyclers, exposed to illness and environmental dangers. There was a small school, an ill-equipped clinic, and two youth programs that received essentially no funding from the Nicaraguan government. The several hundred children of La Chureca had some access to education, small daily meals, and a couple of safe places to play to escape the dump. Recently, the Nicaraguan government relocated the family’s to newly built housing nearby.

On the surface, their lives appeared enclosed within a trash dump. However, in getting to know them, I witnessed a richer, deeper life beyond the trash. They had a childhood, developed relationships and experienced boredom and loneliness, like anyone else. Despite enduring exceptionally brutal, dehumanizing living conditions, they were still able preserve their dignity and passion for life. This is a small and hopefully enlightening glimpse into their lives.

Black and White Picture of Boys Swimming in Concrete Pool NicaraguaBlack and White Picture of Boy Scavenging Trash For Plastic and Metal RecyclablesBlack and White Picture of Girl With Balloon Under Shirt Holding Jump Rope NicaraguaBlack and White Picture of Mother Applying Make-up To Daughter As Girls WatchBlack and White Picture of Baby in Trash Dump Sitting By Plastic Bottle NicaraguaBlack and White Picture of Girl Eating School Lunch Sitting Alone With Toy DollBlack and White Picture of Boy Hiding Under Cardboard Box As Trash Fire BurnsBlack and White Picture of School Girl in Underwear in Classroom CornerBlack and White Picture of Teen Mother Playing with Children inside Tin HomeBlack and White Picture of Tiny Boy Washing Malnourished Horse NicaraguaBlack and White Picture of Boy & Girl in Costumes Walking by Trash Dump To SchoolBlack and White Picture of Children Writing on Whiteboard in School Classroom_Black and White Picture of Mother Holding Naked Baby Boy Inside Door of Tin HomeBlack and White Picture of Boy Sniffing a Bottle of Glue By Trash Dump NicaraguaBlack and White Picture of Mother Tenderly Breastfeeding Baby Son by Trash Dump La ChurecaBlack and White Picture of Girls Sitting at Table Eating Rice & Beans Lunch NicaraguaBlack and White Picture of Shirtless Boy Holding Container on Head By Trash DumpBlack and White Picture of Children Walking Malnourished Horse to Eat on Trash DumpBlack and White Picture of Boy Peeking an Eye Thru Bars in After-School ProgramBlack and White Picture of Baby Boy Sleeping Under Mosquito Net at Dump