Sang Ly lives at Cambodia’s city dump, earning a living for her family by sifting through the trash for recyclables and things which can be repaired and sold. On a good day, she can earn enough to buy food for her family. She needs enough good days to pay the rent collector, Sopeap—a grumpy old woman who is willing to evict any tenant who can’t pay their rent on time.
When Sang Ly is unable to pay her rent, she fears her family will have to leave their shanty home—a place where her only possessions can be carried in two hands. But when Sopeap sees a discarded children’s book lying on Sang Ly’s cardboard bed, her mood changes. Sang Ly offers her the book if she can keep her family at the dump.
An unlikely friendship develops between the two women, and Sang Ly learns that Sopeap knows how to read—something Sang Ly has always wanted to learn. Being able to read could transform Sang Ly’s world beyond the edges of the dump and lead to a future with possibilities and hope.
But the rent collector has a secret and tragic past, one that will not be easy for Sang Ly to navigate. With the support of her family, Sang Ly embarks on a life-changing journey for a better life and future.
The Rent Collector is about the power of literacy, the influence of the past, and finding hope, resiliency, and empowerment in the face of seemingly endless hardship.