Photo caption

Several children stand happily on a large pile of trash at the city dump.

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23 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Apr 14, 2008
    at 7:19 am

    And here we sit in the luxury of our homes many times oblivious to the poverty out in the real world…

    Keep up the great work guys!

    Arnold (Australia)
    Supporter of Compassion for 8 years

  2. Andrzej Gandecki
    Apr 14, 2008
    at 7:35 am

    The most amazing thing for me is that the children are simling and, unbelievable as it may seem, they look really happy.

    Who can explain this? Why are they so happy? What’s the story behind the photo? Could the author say something?

  3. Apr 14, 2008
    at 9:45 am


  4. Apr 14, 2008
    at 10:53 am

    The photo was taken in Indonesia in 2007.

    In the developing world, garbage dumps are often a favorite playground for children – sometimes the only playground. There’s always the hope of finding someone else’s discarded toy or finding something(s) that can be used to create a toy. A child’s imagination doesn’t flee at the smell of the environment.

    Of course, dumps are often the way people provide for themselves.

    I didn’t include any of that in the post, although I debated doing so, because I wanted your gut reactions. I didn’t want to influence them.

    I was struck by the depth of their joy. Some of the kids are smiling shyly, but most have smiles that extend to their whole body. Personally, I haven’t smiled that big or laughed that deeply in a while, and I felt my mood lift because of them, and despite their environment. I felt amazed.

  5. Apr 14, 2008
    at 1:45 pm

    My first thought when I examined the picture was, “Man, I wish I could be there right now.”

  6. Apr 14, 2008
    at 5:41 pm

    Children provide color to a drab world.

  7. Kelly
    Apr 15, 2008
    at 6:49 am

    Beauty and miracles truly can be found anywhere, even in the worst poverty. This is the true difference between joy and happiness. These children obviously live with joy in their hearts every day, no matter what their surroundings may be. Can I come and play??!!

  8. Chad Summers
    Apr 15, 2008
    at 9:40 am

    Place a dirty-bomb-of-garbage in the middle of a city, detonate all hope, and top-it- off with children smiling above the rubble. This is the love of God shining over the so-called impossible – this is Christ in tiny hands and feet. love it.

  9. Andrzej Gandecki
    Apr 15, 2008
    at 1:07 pm

    What causes this joy in the children?

    Knowing this, I think I would be closer to understanding the words of Jesus about our need of becoming like children…

  10. Apr 15, 2008
    at 10:10 pm

    As Wess Stafford has said, joy is one of the “pearls of poverty.” I don’t think it can be explained, apart from our Father.

  11. Andrzej Gandecki
    Apr 16, 2008
    at 5:40 am

    The picture draws me back here like a magnet.

    I wonder, are the children believers? Does their joy result from their faith in Jesus, or is it just an expression of their childless nature?

  12. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Apr 16, 2008
    at 8:26 am

    This picture was taken by Tonny Tunya, our talented Indonesia Communication Specialist, in an area called Kampung Sawah outside of Jakarta.

    This area is predominantly Muslim – the Compassion-assisted church that ministers here is surrounded by 4 mosques! At first the church wasn’t welcomed, but once the community realized the church was there to help, they began to accept them.

    Some of the children in this picture are sponsored by Compassion and have had the opportunity to hear about Jesus, but the others are Muslim.

    They enjoy playing and laughing on the garbage dump despite the smell and the health risks. Many of their parents make their living from the dump – when a dump truck pulls up, they quickly come in behind, scavenging anything that could be used or sold.

    The church that Compassion partners with here ministers to the people through a free health clinic, sewing classes, and through child sponsorship. The church has become a safe haven and light in this community.

  13. Sugeng Widarta
    Apr 17, 2008
    at 2:23 am

    They look so happy because they don’t have any choice about where will they live. For children, they never think about enviroment. The important think is I am HAPPY and ENJOY my life. So, who must responsible for this if not us?

  14. Apr 17, 2008
    at 10:52 am

    Hi Chris,

    I show this photo on Monday, and showed it to one of my friends, and do you know what he said; the picture is a perfect example of peace.. and couldn’t agree more.

  15. Richard McClatchey
    Apr 19, 2008
    at 1:29 am

    The children’s faces shows just the opposite of what the background portrays. That’s amazing! The hope these children have is outstanding. Traveling to projects in Peru has opened my eyes some to what children and their families face day in and day out. It’s very, very humbling–and I believe with all heart and soul, I’m underestimating when I say that. I go on these Compassion trips to help these projects, besides visiting my sponsored child. It makes me want to help these people, even if it’s just a little.

  16. Mary
    May 24, 2008
    at 1:16 pm

    This picture was in my current issue of Discipleship Journal and I purchased Amber’s book, “Hope Lives” because of it.
    Thank you Amber for such a great book! I’m reading the book again.

  17. K-eM
    Nov 18, 2008
    at 3:00 pm

    What’s really sad is that one of my acquaintances was convinced it was 2 photos that someone combined in Photoshop. They didn’t want to believe that it’s real.

  18. tom thimgan
    May 30, 2010
    at 10:54 am

    how would I get permission to use this photo for a self-produced cd cover?

    • Jun 1, 2010
      at 5:57 am

      I will look into it for you

    • Jun 1, 2010
      at 10:57 am

      I regret to say that you can’t use the photo as part of your CD cover. Compassion photos can only be used for the purposes of generating awareness of our ministry.

      • jonathan gottschall
        Dec 7, 2010
        at 7:35 am

        Dear Chris, I’d really LOVE to use this photo for a book I’m writing on the human storytelling impulse for Houghton Mifflin. The book is tentatively called The Story Mind and it will be published in 2012. I want to use the photo to illustrate the persistence of the impulse to play in childhood–even under the most trying conditions.

        I see that photos from this site must be used to promote the mission of Compassion. If you can arrange use of this photo, I would be happy to acknowledge you as the photographer and that it was taken as part of the work of Compassion. This would provide some exposure for the ministry. Can you get back to me by email?

        Anyway, hope you can help. This is such an achingly lovely image.


        • Dec 7, 2010
          at 2:19 pm


          I did receive permission for you to use the photo. I sent the details to you via e-mail.

  19. May 30, 2010
    at 9:25 pm

    “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul”

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