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Income Generation to Expand Girls’ Social Possibilities

Located on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, Mokattam is a settlement of 17,000 people whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly linked to the collection and sorting of garbage. From just after  midnight until the break of dawn, family-owned trucks and donkey carts collect garbage along routes allocated to them by middlemen. Upon return to Mokattam each day, the garbage is dumped into the center of a family home where family members—mostly women and girls—quickly make crude divisions of recyclables, separating out paper, glass, clothes, and bones. This overwhelmingly arduous and unpleasant task typically absorbs 4 to 6 hours a day and is split into 2 sessions: one from 5 to 9AM and another from 4 PM to 1 AM. Working with bare hands and feet, knee deep in garbage, the women and girls must sort the vast volume quickly in order to leave the home free for other family activities.

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