La Chureca: Living In Garbage

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Managua Nicaragua La Chureca

Toxic Fumes at La Chureca Landfill Near Lake Managua

Managua, Nicaragua

La Chureca is the largest garbage dump in Central America. It’s located on the outskirts of Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua and covers over 4 square miles (7 sq. km). One thousand people live & work on the “City of Trash” every day.

Getting here was not easy, and traipsing through burning, rotting garbage wasn’t exactly a picnic either. But the hardest part of all was bearing witness to the way of life these people have to live.

They are called Churequeros. Their homes are made of trash. They scavenge through the garbage for food. Every day they search for scraps of plastic, cans, and glass to sell for recycling. This is how they make a living.

There is an elementary school located on the dump with 6 classrooms. But once kids have graduated, they don’t have many options. Most start working long hours in the landfill every day with the rest of the family. The people who live at La Chureca live a tough life, but still they are friendly and proud.

The following images are my attempt to share what goes on here. It’s not pretty, but it’s real.

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Workers

Men Searching for Scraps of Glass & Plastic to Sell for Recycling

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Scavengers

Vultures, Cows, and Wild Horses Pick Through Garbage with People

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Dead Animals

Dead Animals, Bio-Waste, and Rotting Food are Constant Health Hazards

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Home

Families Live on the Dump in Homes made of Trash

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Woman

Woman Sweeps Garbage from Her Dirt-Floor Home

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca School Boy

Local Boy Waits for Class to Start at School

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Dirty Water

Pond Filled with Trash & Green Sludge

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Children Workers

11 Year Old José Breathes in Toxic Fumes While Scavenging

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Burning Garbage

Garbage is Burned All Day, Dangerous Chemicals & Heavy Metals Included

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Worker

Churequero Man Starts his Long Day of Working on the Landfill

Managua Nicaragua La Chureca Kids

La Chureca Kids have a Bleak Future and a Hard Life

More Information

Location: Managua, Nicaragua [Map] Useful Tips: La Chureca can be dangerous. It’s not a place to just show up alone with a camera. While most people didn’t seem to mind, a few were clearly not happy that I was there. I was accompanied by a lawyer who knows the area. If you’re interested in visiting, I suggest reaching out to a local aid organization.

Did you know people live this way? Ever heard of La Chureca? Share with us in the comments below!

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