LONDON (AlertNet) – The poignant story of Myanmar’s refugees living in and around a putrid rubbish dump on the Thai border town of Mae Sot speaks volumes about the resilience of human nature.

Despite the poverty, health risks and harassment they face from the Thai authorities on a constant basis, many refugee families have lived at the site for years, struggling to earn minuscule wages for the plastic they collect for recycling.

“Every human rights violation on the planet is there in its worse element,” Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj told me in a phone interview.

“However, these people on the dump site are actually happy because they know what they have left behind in Burma (Myanmar) is much worse,” he added.

For more than five decades, Myanmar has suffered conflict between the repressive ruling military regime, political opponents and ethnic groups, resulting in the displacement of over 3.5 million Burmese.