Where Children Sleep

If I got a grain of sand each time my son pleaded with me to buy him something, I’d have my very own beach. Recently, we bought a book that my son immediately took interest in, one he has already flipped though multiple times, and one that provokes some very interesting questions.

Recently, we bought the book entitled Where Children Sleep, written by photographer James Mollison, it looked amazing. After we received it and opened the box, we sat down and began thumbing though the illustrative pages. The three of us ended up browsing through the entire book for over an hour. The book is incredible, very moving, each page with a picture of a child together with their story in brief, as well as a picture of where the child sleeps.

Each time we turned to a new page, my son asked a new question, and I got busy translating realism into 4 year-old’s english:

Son: Where does he sleep?
Dad: He sleeps outside because he doesn’t have a room, sometimes on a sofa like that one.

Son: Where are his mum and dad?
Dad: I’m not sure but he sometimes eats with them.

Son: What are they (pointing at the medals)?
Dad: Those are all the medals she won.

Son: What is a medal?
Dad: Often in sports, if you do something well, you’re given a medal.

Son: How?
Dad: She is a ninja, apparently a very good one too.

Son: Where is his room?
Dad: He sleeps on those tyres in a big rubbish tip.

This provoked a rather interesting look, which was followed by his famous – huuaaahhhh

Son: What are those black dots?
Dad: They are flies.

Son: Flies? There are so many!
Dad: There are.

Son: Where are his mum and dad?
Dad: I don’t know, he lives with his brother.

Son: What does he eat?
Dad: Someone gives him food in the morning, which is often all he eats.


Son: Why doesn’t he go to a café?
Dad: He doesn’t have any money.

Son: Does he have any toys?
Dad: Perhaps, those he finds.

Son: Why doesn’t he buy some?
Dad: He doesn’t have any money.

My son was very occupied with this little boy especially, Roathy from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He often took the book from the shelf and slowly flipped to the following page:

Roathy, eight, lives on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His home sits on a huge rubbish dump. Roathy’s mattress is made from old tyres. Five thousand people live and work here. At six every morning, Roathy and hundreds of other children are given a shower at a local charity centre before they start work, scavenging for cans and plastic bottles, which are sold to a recycling company. Breakfast is often the only meal of the day.

A now humble 4 year-old.



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  • Hmmmm… Hows that for a reality check?! Dont recall ever thinking about that. I suppose i have locally, just not globaly. Will have to get that book…

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