Sembulan Tengah, Kota Kinabalu’s village in the city

Kampung Sembulan Tengah is literally a “village in the city”, a slum just a stone’s throw away from the modern highrise buildings in the centre of Kota Kinabalu. Once known as a “black area” full of drug addicts and criminals, locals still avoid it but to the many immigrants, this is where home is as they eke out a living amid the harsh conditions.

Clothes left out to dry at a house in Kampung Sembulan Tengah, an immigrant settlement in the heart of the Sabah capital.The womenfolk of Kampung Sembulan Tengah are used to a simple way of life. Resident Pernama Pinasang, from Tawi-Tawi Island in the southern Philippines, shows her IMM13 immigration pass, issued to those who fled the conflict in Mindanao in the 1970s.Pernama hangs her clothes to dry outside the rickety wooden structure she calls home. She lives with her three daughters and other relatives.Pernama, her nephew and niece looking out the window of their simple house.A schoolboy walks on the rickety bridge that connects homes at Kampung Sembulan Tengah against a backdrop of Kota Kinabalu's modern apartments.A family of Filipino migrants at the water village. Many of the villagers do menial work in the city.  A boy stops by a stall selling crackers and sweets on his way to school.Boys go around the slum collecting empty cans that they sell for some pocket money.
Makeshift houses on loose stilts in Kampung Sembulan Tengah are in stark contrast to the modern condominiums in the background.  
A boy takes a drink from a water hose while washing dishes outside his house.