My niece, Patty, has has traveled the world to some of the most beautiful and exotic places most only read about or see on TV, (courtesy of her husband's work) as well as some not so great places. Patty is also a wonderful artist in many different mediums. She recently posted pictures on her facebook I found so fascinating I have to share. She is currently living in Cairo.
She and her friends made one last trip to a place called "Garbage City" to visit the women's recycled crafts stores.
Cairo has been recycling their garbage for 50 years. An army of collectors, the Zabbaleen, have not only been cleaning up the city, they have been improving their own lives. Mokattam girls have learned to keep their environment clean, because the reward is - income - that meets a real need. Many of the girls have learnt to read and write for similar reasons. The crucial difference between this and other literacy programmes, is that literacy addresses a real need - generating income. For instance, a girl must be able to read and write her own name if she wants to weave personalised rugs that fetch her more money.
Married women started approaching the Association: like their daughters, they too wanted to earn. The association showed the women how to recycle square cotton pieces - too beautiful to be sold for mattress stuffing - into patchwork quilts. This simple act of recycling patchwork has spiralled into larger benefits for women. Each woman is given a sewing machine and an iron when she produces a perfect bedspread.
Here are some pictures of the quilts they have made.
For instance, a girl must be able to read and write her own name if she wants to weave personalised rugs that fetch her more money. And a gift who wants to staff a sale at a posh hotel must know how to read the price list. "Otherwise she won't be chosen,"
They reuse everything. The trash collectors and their trucks bring all the trash home. The ground level of the apartments is used for sorting trash. Families live above the trash and even the kids help collect and sort. The usual paper, glass, plastics are separated and many thrown away objects end up at the Friday Market (even old tooth brushes). All organic waste gets fed to the animals. It is quite a system. Here is a link to read an article about the system. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5327/is_n198/ai_n28655572/?tag=content;col1