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Living at the railway tracks


Job-seekers are moving from rural areas to cities in search of a better life. As space is limited, slums are spreading across big cities in Asia. In Medan, the capital of North-Sumatra, a group of former villagers have found their space to live in quite an unattractive environment – along the railway tracks.

The first settlers came in the ’70s and now more than 60 families are living here. Each family has 4-6 children and sometimes a family of three generations live under one roof. They usually don’t have more than a small room for the whole family. Some of the homes are made out of wooden boards and corrugated metal sheets. The better houses are made out of wood and bricks. The inhabitants pay a small amount for rent to the train company, who owns the land. They tap electricity from anywhere and get water out of a spring.

Their homes are only a few meters away from the railway tracks. They work at the market, as food sellers, rickshaw drivers, some work even in offices and the unlucky ones as street musicians, sex-workers, garbage pickers or beggars.

The railway tracks are also a place to meet, to sit and to walk. Children even use the railway tracks to play. When a train is passing by, everyone steps aside. Trains pass by regularly. There is no signal from the train, but they say that the children know when a train is coming. After the train passes by, life goes on as usual.

More photos from “Living at the railway tracks” can be viewed at Anzenberger Agency: (link)



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German photographer Sandra Weller studied photography in the Netherlands. After her graduation she moved to Thailand and later to Indonesia. In this time she basically documented different living conditions across Asia. She is now living in Berlin, Germany, but still goes back to Asia frequently. Her photos have been published in international Newspapers and Magazines and exhibited across Europe.
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