Every day tens of thousands of garbage collectors, better known world wide with their Arabic name as Zabbaleen, leave their homes to start collecting tons of garbage from all over the capital. They go from door to door for hours and then head back to their “Garbage City”, at the base of the Mokattam in Cairo, where their wives and children sort out the trash by hand and prepare it for the further recycling. This community recycles an astonishing 83% of what they collect-the highest in the world.
The A.P.E (Association for the Protection of the Environment) is an NGO established in Cairo in 1984 by three Egyptian ladies, to work with this traditionally marginalised community of the garbage collectors to find innovative ways to develop environmentally sound waste management practices whilst improving their living conditions and opportunities. Acting as a safe hub for such a self-enclosed community, the A.P.E has been working for more than three decades to offer much needed, holistic care to over 70,000 residents of the Garbage City. Emphasis is placed on the empowerment and health of women – ‘mothers of the future’.
They set up a weaving and patchwork quilting centre with training workshops that have taught over 1000 women and girls to weave using a hand loom. The material needed for production is textile factory off-cuts. They also started a paper recycling unit, using traditional craft processes to make papers from cotton and waste paper. This paper is embellished and made into greetings cards, stationery items and paper bead jewellery.
More than thirty five years since it was founded, the A.P.E has at least a hundred employees who are present every day, 160 women who produce fabulous hand-crafted products at home and 30 volunteers who dedicate their time and efforts to expanding the very large range of products. They are always on the lookout to make innovative use of discarded materials. Most recently these include bags and containers made from can ring pulls, items made from men’s neckties and jewellery fashioned from brightly coloured coffee pods.
Unfortunately, these beautiful, unique and eco-friendly handmade products, made in ethical conditions, were only available by visiting Egypt.
Friends from Cambridge who have been supporting the A.P.E for more than a decade have introduced some of the zabbaleen products in a limited way in Cambridge and London, through various church fairs, however, while the interest has been high, it was frustrating not to be able to offer these fabulous products to a much wider market.
Very recently, those same friends have launched a website that now offers online a large range of the A.P.E’s products, making them available to the UK, Europe and North America, and donating any generated profits to the very community that made them in the first place.
Contact: Sheila Rozeik
Tel: +44 (0)1223 223774
Mobile: +44 (0)7951 526223
- Contact Name:
- Rifaat Rozeik
- Zabbaleen Products Ltd.
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- Contact Phone:
- 07511 958386
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