Posts Tagged ‘Cairo’

Zabaleen, the movie

Friday, July 20, 2012

A new documentary on the trash picking  Zabaleen community of Cairo may peak the horizon. REORIENT, an online magazine featuring Middle Eastern arts and culture,  this week profiles director and cinematographer Justin Kramer on the two-and-a-half year process of shooting Zabaleen.

photo via REORIENT

Kramer tells the reporter:

I had to spend a lot of time with these families before they trusted me enough. They’re very marginalised. What they do is sort of taboo, and they were reluctant to open up to an American guy who barely speaks the same language’

A moving and naturally-paced excerpt of the film entitled “Mourad’s Morning” can be viewed on VIMEO, which includes the following description:

Mourad’s mornings are all the same. He wakes up at 2am. Then, he fights to get his sons out of bed for an hour before leaving late for his garbage route in Shoubra.

This piece was submitted and accepted into Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School in London March 2011.

Sounds very promising.

A now-completed Kickstarter campaign includes a brief video message from Kramer and cites the blog The Zabaleen Project as the documentary’s website. It appears to be an interesting compilation of Zabaleen news, including an automated filter for the latest #zabaleen tweets.

Here’s hoping the final product makes the rounds on the film festival circuit and makes its way to screenings we can all attend. In the meantime,  to bone up on Zabaleen issues, check out:

  •’s review of the documentary Garbage Dreams,
  • my Q & A with that film’s director,
  • the sad incident a few years ago when the government killed all the Zabaleen’s pigs,
  • NPR’s coverage of the Zabaleen solar cities, and
  • an update on the Garbage Dream boys via an exclusive  interview with an correspondent.

Million dollar trashies

Thursday, November 5, 2009 sends a warm congratulations to The Spirit of Youth Association—an association of Zaballeen from the Caireen shantytown of Manchiet Nasser—who recently received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant was announced following a screening of the documentary Garbage Dreams (which we’ve touted here on more than one occasion) at the International Sustainability Conference in Cairo. The Spirit of Youth Association is the nonprofit that runs the recycling school featured in Garbage Dreams.

Iskander, Nabil, Osama & Adham

Mai Iskander, Nabil, Osama & Adham of "Garbage Dreams"

Special Kudos to filmmaker Mai Iskander for harnessing the power of journalism to raise awareness around the Zaballeen and informal trash picking communities in general and to Adham, Nabil, Osama and their teacher, Laila, for lending their life stories to the cause. More to come on this evolving story.

Solar Cities

Monday, October 19, 2009

Since the Egyptian government killed all their pigs, the Zabaleen trash picking community of Cairo have had no use for the organic waste they used to collect as food slops, thus creating a trash crisis for the city at large. NPR reports on a couple of positive developments. One, the Zabaleen neighborhoods now smell better (though other parts of Cairo now stink more) and an organization called Solar Cities has been building bio-gas and solar fueled heaters for the Zabaleen providing hot water to a community that has never had it before and creating a use for some of the organic waste plaguing Cairo.

Listen to the Weekend Edition clip and check out production assistant Kimberly Adamspost on NPR’s blog Soapbox describing her recent trip to Egypt and Solar Cities’ work there.

A world of shocking odors

Monday, May 25, 2009
Shawn Baldwin for The New York Times

Shawn Baldwin for The New York Times

Great Zabaleen article in the Times accompanied  by a short video and these stellar images by photographer Shawn Baldwin.

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.

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