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Amy Hanson

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					H&H SERIES AuguSt 12 2010
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A                                      Amy’s going around
               my Hanson was on
               a girls’ holiday to
               Cambodia when she
               suddenly tired of the
               beach and started
exploring. most of us might




                                       the world in 80 dumps
have ended up getting lost in a
market or stumbling across an
ancient temple – Amy chatted her
way into a job in a hospice for
children with HIV. Realising that
the orphanage could not possibly
cope with all the children who
needed it, she asked what
happened to the 90 per cent or         Amanda Blinkhorn finds out how a north London girl is focused on changing the lives of children who are
so of children who didn’t find a
space there.                           forced to work and live on rubbish heaps after discovering their fate during a trip to Cambodia
    “They go to the rubbish
dumps,” explained one of the                                                                                                                                                               round the world in eighty dumps,
nurses.                                                                                                                                                                                    shining a light on things many
    Never has a child’s fate been                                                                                                                                                          people would quite like to leave
explained more graphicallly, as                                                                                                                                                            unnoticed.
Amy soon discovered... She hired                                                                                                                                                              But Amy, like her 13 year
a Tuk Tuk driver and asked him                                                                                                                                                             old former self, is not listening
to take her there. He did, then                                                                                                                                                            – she is on the terrace, discussing
stopped on the outskirts to throw                                                                                                                                                          Nicaragua, the subject of her next
up because of the stench.                                                                                                                                                                  trip, with Nigel the photographer.
    Amy, who at the time, was                                                                                                                                                              So when will she stop: “When
working as a royal writer for the                                                                                                                                                          there are no more children
mail on Sunday to hang out in                                                                                                                                                              working on rubbish dumps,” she
Bouji and mahiki’ hobnobbing                                                                                                                                                               said.
with the Princes William and                                                                                                                                                                  “People are always trying
Harry, has a stronger stomach.                                                                                                                                                             to justify it by saying what an
She pulled on her wellies and                                                                                                                                                              important job they are doing
began stomping over steaming                                                                                                                                                               – well if it’s such an important
piles of rotting nappies, food,                                                                                                                                                            job why are they leaving it to
and broken glass and found that                                                                                                                                                            children with no shoes, and safety
the rubbish dump was home,                                                                                                                                                                 regulations and practically no
playground and work for more                                                                                                                                                               money?”
than 800 people, many of them                                                                                                                                                                 Her next step is to raise more
no more than toddlers.                                                                                                                                                                     money – firstly thanks to an
    “It’s like hell,” said Amy,                                                                                                                                                            invitation from the Hampstead
“And this is where the most                                                                                                                                                                Film Society her film, Small
hopeless and vulnerable children                                                                                                                                                           Steps, was shown at the
are, they are walking about in         Small Steps out of poverty ... A small boy who is forced to live and work on a rubbish dump, right, Michele Hanson and                              Exchange Studios, Hampstead
rubbish, they have bare feet, and      daughter Amy, who is raising money to help the children affected and trying to identify dumps all over the world.                                   Town Hall earlier this month.
they are clambering over burning                                                                                                                                                              When she worked at the mail
rubbish and broken glass trying                                                                                                                                                            she was part entranced part
to salvage glass and plastic and          Like thousands of Western         children working on the dump,        know they are living on a rubbish    rubbish has not gone unnoticed.      horrified by the world of the
metal to sell for recycling.”          tourists before her, Amy had         struggling with the heat and the     dump – they have been there so       The less we throw away and           celebrity freebie – where £500
    She pointed out how beautiful      stumbled on a huge horrific          flies and the smell, and laughing    long that’s all they know.”          the more we recycle the fewer        goodie bags for showing up to
the children were, especially the      problem which she felt compelled     over their new red wellies. The         Amy is as straight forward and    chances our rubbish ends up          an opening are the norm. “The
red tint to their hair “That’s a       to try to do something about.        resulting film, Small Steps, is a    direct as the tabloid reporter she   cutting the feet of a toddler on     richer you are the more you get
sign of malnutrition,” a patient       Unlike most of us, she did, and      short sharp tale of what happens     once was. She knows her wellies      the other side of the world, so no   for free – yet these children are at
NGO worker informed her.               unlike most beautiful bright north   to the things we no longer want,     and bottles of water won’t solve     more gagging and wingeing about      the bottom of the heap and they
    In a country where 75 per cent     London girls who want to save        and who ends up clearing up          the problem, but the unflinching     scraping your leftover salad into    can’t even get a pair of wellies,”
of the population is under 15          the world, she is doing it with a    after us.                            eye of her camera just might.        one of those new brown boxes         she said.
years old, and family structure        bit of sense and sensibility.           People tell her she’s             She refuses to believe that once     Camden has just delivered.              Again – she’s going to start
is still trying to recover from           The first thing people asked      marvellous, of course. She says      people know what’s going on             Amy wasn’t always so              with with the shoes. “ I’m trying
the wilfully destructive terror        for were boots, to protect their     she’s not marvellous, she’s          they won’t do something to help.     altruistic, her mother, the          to find a celebrity who would
imposed by the Khmer Rouge             feet, so as soon as Amy came         normal. “There are people               “you can see it – it’s            journalist michele Hanson, who       donate one pair of designer shoes
who destroyed family life,             home to her flat behind Archway      standing on the edge of the          completely wrong, so you can’t       lives in Tufnell Park, chronicled    which we could sell – think how
education and any concept of           Road in Highgate, she posted an      rubbish dump taking pictures         hide behind ignorance any more,”     her troublesome teen years,          many wellies we could buy for
love, desperate parents send their     appeal on her facebook page and      and saying how terrible it is        she said.                            dubbing her “Treasure” in the        that,” she said.
children to work on the rubbish        asked all her friends to donate      and thinking – oh this is sooo          “you wouldn’t let your            Guardian and the subsequent             And if any footballers are
dump so they can bring in two          the money they would have            awful there must be people           children anywhere near that          Treasure books. She despaired of     reading this she would really love
Cambodian dollars a day (about         spent on Valentine flowers (it       doing something about it – well,     rubbish dump, so why is it ok to     the teenage Amy who slammed          your World Cup boots. “They
70p) . To earn that they have to       was February) to the children        apart from a few NGOs who are        let someone else’s? Is it because    doors, stayed out all night and      don’t need them any more do
fill ten sacks a day.                  on the dump. She flew back to        swamped, they’re aren’t.             they aren’t brought up in north      didn’t knuckle down at Acland        they?” she said, adding spikily
    Through Amnesty                    Cambodia with £700 and she,             “There are are children as        London?”                             Burghley School.                     that it’s not as if they got that
International Amy met mey, a           mey and a supportive Tuk Tuk         young as three and four, running        Her plan, dubbed “Around the         “She was a shopaholic – at        much wear out of them...
former nanny, now working as a         driver headed off to the night       around in 40 degree heat, living     world in 80 dumps” is to identify    one point I thought she would
translator and guide, who grew up      market in Phnom Penh and             in sh*t, with bare feet which are    all the dumps in the world which     turn out to be a Conservative,”      o Anyone who would like to
on the rubbish dump, but, through      stocked up on wellies.               cut and covered in sores, with       allow chldren to live and scavage    muttered michele, who is caught      donate a pair of beautiful,
the help of a French NGO, which           She had borrowed a camera         no-one looking after them.           on them and name and shame           between pride at what Amy            designer, covetable shoes, can
rescues as many children as it         to prove to her friends that she        “Some of the children are quite   them.                                is achieving and terror at the       contact Amy Hanson through
can, she was able to escape and        hadn’t just done a runner with       savvy and know where to go to           The fact that many of them are    potential consequences of her        wwww.amyhanson.co.uk.
go to school.                          their cash and began filming the     get a free meal. Others don’t even   processing British and European      beautiful bolshy daughter striding

				
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