Sunday, May 24, 2009

How the world views Egypt's campaign against pigs

The garbage collectors of Cairo live in neighborhoods spilling over with trash. The children play with the trash and in the trash, when they are not helping to sort or collect the trash. The women sit right in the trash, picking out rotten food with their hands and tossing it to their pigs, which live right there in the neighborhood with them.

It is a world of shocking odors and off-putting sights. But it is their world, the world of the zabaleen, hundreds of thousands of people who have made lives and a community by collecting Cairo’s trash and transforming it into a commodity.

It is their very identity, and they are afraid the government is going to take it away. “It is not a job, it is a life,” said Isat Naim Gindy, grandson of one of Cairo’s original zabaleen, who now runs a nonprofit organization to help educate the children of garbage collectors. MORE IN THE NYT.

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