A towering dump is transformed  into a mountain of opportunity for a community in the Philippines!   Photojournalist and filmmaker Barbara Pyle travels to the Payatas dumpsite outside Manila to see first hand the work of the world’s ultimate recyclers.   The people of Payatas scour the dump every day to find and create sellable products.   Meet Nilo who makes dustpans from tin cans that he finds at the dump.  Nilo’s products are so popular, he gets a loan to help start his own  store.   


The loans are part of a micro-enterprise lending program set up by Father Bebot, a local priest, to help the people of Payatas build new lives. However a major obstacle remains for all the people in this community. None own the land where they live. Pyle meets a woman who is trying to change that... Me-An Ignacio. She says, “My biggest frustration here in our country is that they have not realized the value of the waste pickers.” Pyle meets Boy, a former waste picker, who understands the value of recycling first hand. He is the leader of the Waste Recyclers Association and works with Me-An and Father Bebot to protect the rights of the waste pickers.


Where did the people of Payatas get the idea to recycle garbage?   A continent away in Cairo, Egypt.   Pyle introduces us to the Zabbaleen, a community of recyclers who live next to the mokattam hills. Each recycler has a donkey cart or a truck and picks up about one ton of garbage per day. The Zabbaleen sort through the garbage, and recycle items made of paper, plastic and tin.   Young Zabbaleen girls work with donated factory rags… weaving them into colorful rugs.   Laila Kamal heads a foundation that helps the girls gain rug-making skills which gives them the incentive to learn how to read and write. Pyle meets Bekhatta, one of Laila’s star pupils. Laila says “You can actually pinpoint the day their eyes sparkle and the look on their faces says, I am now an enabled, empowered person.”




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