First glimpse of a squatter village

By Colin Tom

Yuem’s husband was lucky to make $5 dollars a day delivering water on a tuk tuk.  On average he would make just below $2.  With a house that cost nearly $1,000 and two young children, there was little money in the household.

Inhabitants of the squatter village, like Yuem, have limited materials and budgets, but manage to stretch their resources to make livable housing.

Housing is made with impromptu supplies, often utilizing the excess construction materials of larger building projects from the more developed areas of Siem Reap.  Some homes were made entirely from corrugated tin used for temporary walls in construction sites.  Small fragments of discolored tin were often patched together to create mosaic like patterns along the houses, with each new scrap patching an older corroded piece.

Cooking supplies, mats, hammocks, and small possessions would adorn the floors of the homes, sometimes on concrete, thatched wood floors or exposed dirt.

As we walked through the village, children curiously poked their heads from the shaded interiors to gaze timidly into our camera lenses.  Before a photograph they would quickly throw the peace sign in front of wide grins.

Men and women filled the dirt roads, riding motorcycles to town, watching their children, and often times preparing food.  The relation among the photographer and the photographed was delicate.

Although subjects quietly nodded approval for a photograph, the photographer had to balance respect for the each individual’s lifestyle with the desire to capture each moment.

Two journalists eager to capture women preparing a meal outside of their home, approached them to take quick snapshots.  Quick to jeer the photographer’s eagerness to capture their daily routines, a woman pulled her shirt down, slapping at her breasts, mocking the photo opportunity.

Despite the lack of resources, pride and humor still exist with an abundance.


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