Living with a mountain of waste
Silkina Ahluwalia

This 110-hectare landfill may appear to be a mountain of trash. 

But to 40-year old Soleh Salahuddin, it is home and his only source of livelihood. 

Like thousands of families, he makes a living rummaging through the trash from Jakarta. 

Rubbish from the Indonesian capital frequently ends up in the town of Bantar Gebang in West Java, Indonesia. 

Soleh has been living among the Bantar Gebang trash over the past 12 years.  

His daily routine consists of digging through piles of rotting vegetables and plastics, in the hope of finding something valuable.  

He has been a scavenger since he was 10 years old. 

Soleh Salahuddin is searching among the trash./CGTN Photo

Soleh Salahuddin is searching among the trash./CGTN Photo

He told Assignment Asia: “As a scavenger, I can make up to 70,000 rupiahs (about five U.S. dollars) per day. My profit is about 20,000 rupiahs (about one U.S. dollars) a day as the rest of the money goes into buying rice and educating my children. So I’m usually left with just one U.S. dollars.” 

His method of earning a living comes with its fair share of risks. 

“I have found sharp nails, even needles. One time, I was poked by a needle and ended up with a large bruise. I couldn’t go to the hospital because it was inaccessible, so I treated myself at home. These things happen and it’s common.” 

Assignment Asia is CGTN’s award-winning current affairs program featuring long-form stories and documentaries on some of the most pressing issues in the region. The show airs Saturdays at 1330 and 2130 GMT, with replays every Sunday at 0630, Monday at 0130, and Tuesday at 0530.