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The mountain of garbage that blights the Philippine capital

Payatas scavengers eke out a living, but international aid groups seek a new way

Women stitch together stuffed animals at a workshop sponsored by a Japan-based nonprofit organization. Mana Abe, center, works with the aid group. (Photo by Jun Endo)

MANILA Years of strong economic growth have markedly lifted living standards in the Philippines, but abject poverty remains a bitter fact of life for many people in the Southeast Asian country.

Smokey Mountain is the most famous of several garbage dumps in the sprawling capital. And even though it has been closed for two decades, it remains a notorious symbol of poverty and urban misery. The trash heap provided livelihoods for thousands of people, but the problems that created it remain unsolved.

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