Photo Essay: Cairo’s Trash Collectors Down in the Dumps
Cairo’s zabaleen form the backbone of the city’s garbage disposal system. Largely scorned by Egyptian society, the trash scavengers recently lost one woman who had worked tirelessly for their well-being—Sister Emmanuelle, a Belgium-born nun who died Oct. 20 at age 99.
School of hard and smelly knocks: Two young students stand in front of their trash-filled home after coming back from school in alZabaleen, a poor area of Cairo, on Oct. 20. Belgium-born nun Sister Emmanuelle spent some 20 years here, helping establish schools and health clinics for poor trash scavengers known as zabaleen, a term derived from the Arabic word for garbage. At a school in Manshiet Nasser, a community populated by many zabaleen, children learn not only their ABCs (or Alif Ba, as an Egyptian would say), but the basics of trash collection and recycling, including how to track plastic bottles by computer.
Photo: KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
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