From Dependence to Dignity in Cairo's Garbage Village

In this best known of Cairo's "Garbage Villages," Manshiyat Nasser, the economy revolves around collecting and recycling the city's garbage.  With our partners and other Christian ministries, TOLI is working to transform the community in this desperately poor area.  We prefer to call it the "Garbage Recyclers' Village," both to make it clear that those who live here are not garbage themselves, and to highlight the significance of the work of these residents who make Cairo's percentage of recycling among the highest in the world.
 
Egypt's economy is struggling, and the greatest burden has fallen on those at the bottom of the social order.  Many fathers have found themselves unable to provide for their families; crushed by the shame, they have abandoned their wives and children and sought to dull their own pain.  Manshiyat Nasser has among the highest drug and alcohol addiction rates in the country.  Relief agencies and churches can provide only a fraction of what the abandoned families need; but relief is not the answer.  The mothers need a way to earn an income by which they can support their families while staying at home with the children.  They need hope and a future.
 
Receiving a micro-loan and business training provides just such hope.  Mothers like Rania*, signing for her loan in the photo above, are receiving this gift of empowerment through Touch of Love International's new project.  Rania's sister also took a TOLI loan, and together they rented an open-air space and bought large bags of garbage.  They sort and then re-sell all that can be recycled.  It is hard and nasty work, and when our TOLI team visited them, they did not want their picture taken.  But they are working, together and with their children; they have the dignity of supporting themselves; and they are progressing daily toward their dream to be able to rent an apartment where they can be safe and clean and dry, together with their five young children. 


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Meet a few TOLI entrepreneurs in Recyclers' Village...

Dina* bought scrap fabric and a weaving loom; she and partners produce rugs and many quilted products.  

Dina* bought scrap fabric and a weaving loom; she and partners produce rugs and many quilted products.

 

Mariam* bought discarded brooms and invested in a bristle-removing machine which her son is demonstrating. She then trims up the hard plastic base pieces which are valuable for recycling.

Mariam* bought discarded brooms and invested in a bristle-removing machine which her son is demonstrating. She then trims up the hard plastic base pieces which are valuable for recycling.

Samia* bought an industrial sewing machine and sews new garbage bags from the torn pieces of old ones.  When she sewed them by hand, she could only make 10 in a day. Now she can produce 50!

Samia* bought an industrial sewing machine and sews new garbage bags from the torn pieces of old ones.  When she sewed them by hand, she could only make 10 in a day. Now she can produce 50!

Heba* had an open room below her apartment; with her TOLI loan, she built display cases, bought a refrigerator, and stocked her small shop. She serves cold drinks and provides daily needs for her neighbors.

Heba* had an open room below her apartment; with her TOLI loan, she built display cases, bought a refrigerator, and stocked her small shop. She serves cold drinks and provides daily needs for her neighbors.

*not their real names


 God Provides Great Partners!

Nadia Henry, a Christian member of parliament and member of Masr el Gedida, a key evangelical church in Cairo, has formed a team to address various needs around Egypt.  Through Nadia's group, TOLI has partnered with a small but nationally recognized NGO called Talat Christina, whose leaders are all from the Manshiyat Nasser community. The photo shows their meeting room and key leaders, with Founder and Board President Emad Yassa and others. Together, we are building this new rotating micro-loan project for aspiring women.


The first round of applications, business plans and interviews in the fall of 2015 resulted in an initial group of ten loan recipients who signed their contracts and started their business initiatives in January.  Four more women have started businesses since that time.  By starting small, we strengthen our processes, and build a strong foundation for a long-term, self-sustaining micro-loan project that will bless the community in a multitude of ways.  
 
To date, all recipients are paying faithfully on their loans, and the revolving fund is just beginning to grow.  Our partners tell us that they have 750 families who are ready and in need of loans now!  Though the average loan is just $255, this would be an audacious goal, but we are on our way to transforming this community.  It is the Lord's work to take what is the "refuse of the world" and use us to do his work in the world he loves!  We serve the Original Recycler!


Please Join Us in Prayer...

• Give thanks for TOLI's wonderful partners and for the initial success of each business so far. Hold up especially Nadia and Hani from the church, and Ismat, Tamar, Nabil and others with the NGO.
 
• Ask God to provide the needed funds for the project to grow to provide more loans for other women and families.
 
• Scroll again through the pictures and pray God's blessing on each woman, her business, family and neighbors.
 
• Ask the Lord to draw all who are involved closer to himself through the ministry.
 
• Pray for stability in Egypt and that the economy would gain strength. And pray that the Recycler of all the world would receive the glory.