Care for Marginalized
R eclaiming Lives A religious school helps Cairo’s poorest quarter By Magdy Samaan
s the car turns onto the main street, the overwhelming stench of garbage is one’s first introduction to the Zabbaleen quarter in Manshiyat Naser, a district in the sprawling Egyptian capital of Cairo. Garbage is everywhere. Collected from other Cairo neighborhoods and carried to the area, piles of trash block the entrances of houses as residents carry out the process of sorting and recycling to make ends meet. To enter this world is to enter the lives of some of Egypt’s poorest people, and certainly among the nation’s most marginalized of peoples.
The Zabbaleen (an Arabic word meaning, “garbage people”) quarter is a settlement that sprang up at the far southern end of Manshiyat Naser at the base of the Mokattam hills, east of Cairo. It is an entire neighborhood of garbage collectors, who are mostly Coptic Christians. The streets, up to the hill, are unpaved and bumpy, and living conditions are poor. The district is subject to frequent landslides due to a lack of infrastructure, such as running water, waste treatment and electricity. In 2008, a huge rockslide buried a neighborhood, killing hundreds of people. Martina stands in front of her home in the Zabbaleen quarter of Manshiyat Naser, Cairo.
The official publication of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)