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Garbage Project Sponsors Vocational Education for Bedouins in Egypt

22 October, 2016
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In the continuing effort to help solve Egypt's waste problem, a group of humanitarians have started a 30-day campaign to collect solid waste from individuals, schools, universities, corporations, syndicates and sporting clubs.

Adam Foundation for Humanitarian Development held their opening Garbage Festival yesterday in Maadi. They gathered from each participant 5 kg of a variety of solid waste; paper, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, car tires and other solid waste that are going to be sold to three entities; Abou Al-Yazeed for Environmental Affairs, Edmag for Vocational Education and the Syndicate of Environment.

"We found that all campaigns tackling waste are on-the-spot cleanups, that are usually made for fun and serve no long-term solution and no change in mentality,| Emad Anwar, the president of the Foundation told BECAUSE. 

"This festival will build a culture of understanding that solid waste is valuable and could be a good source of income," Anwar added.

Adam Foundation aims to collect the solid waste and sell them to three big corporations that are eager to recycle them into their industries. Hitting two birds with one stone, they will also use this money to fund vocational education for Bedouin communities settled in a mountain in Maadi, called Al-Arab.

"These communities don't have schools around them, and live off by coexistence, trying to get by with any occupation they see in their way," explained Reham ElSonbaty, the administrator of the artistic activities.

One time, Anwar remembers, a Bedouin told him they need to resettle somewhere else. "When I asked about the reason, he answered 'because construction will take place soon by a big company in preparation for civilization;' the Bedouins in Egypt don't see themselves welcomed in civilization."

Anwar went on to defend these communities saying that they have historically assisted Egypt's armed forces in desert conflicts, opening their houses for water and rest. "These communities are completely marginalized, while they deserve to be praised for their loyalty and valor."

Adam Foundation has been in contact with the government since 2013, but they didn't see enough responsiveness so they decided to continue independently.

"Any process that involves a governmental employee is considered a challenge for us; the problem is bigger than bureaucracy, it's that the employees have neither the mentality nor the motivation to work unless they'll get a monetary bonus in return," Anwar said.

Nonetheless, in 2015, the foundation has organized in the First Egyptian Day for Environment for recycling, attended by Dr Randa Rizk, the presidential advisor for social development. Although the event was held on Ministry-owned property, they were disappointed the Minister of Environment also didn't attend. "We understood later that they weren't very attentive to what we're doing because we're 'youngsters'; but that's not the case at all, it's not about the age, it's about the mentality and the good education that needs to be made use of," he claimed.

Adam Foundation also looks for civil groups like biking and running groups in Cairo to work with to spread further the culture of recycling and waste value. The foundation collaborated with the renowned jogging group, Cairo Runners, and has collected 1,200 water bottles after the run.

After the 30 days are over, in parallel with the vocational school built out of funds coming solely from garbage, the foundation is also planning to launch a project called "Garbage Store" which will be a chain of stores in almost every district that buy solid waste.

Adam Foundation has been established in 2012, under the surveillance of the Ministry of Social Solidarity. Their work doesn't only involve waste management and environmental issues; they tackle anything that involves humanitarian development. They have inaugurated an application for mute and deaf people to be able to interact with each other as part of their self-empowerment and independence. As well as launching "Adam TV," a channel that is aired for and by mute and deaf people and the foundation is currently giving them training on video editing and sound mixing.

Photo: Leena ElDeeb

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