Every day, Hannan conscientiously bends over her loom, weaving colorful rugs and tote bags from the pile of cloth scraps at her side. As she finishes a piece, she trudges four blocks through the dusty streets of the urban squatter settlement where she lives to sell it to one of HANDS’ local partner organizations in her community. This group, the Association for the Protection of the Environment (APE), markets her crafts locally and internationally.

Just a few years ago, Hannan was unemployed and rarely left the house. She felt unfulfilled and unproductive. But since her training at HANDS’ partner organization, Hannan has learned the skill of weaving and is now able to provide her family with additional income. This has empowered Hannan, providing her more of a voice in her family and community.

In a recent interview with HANDS’ staff, Hannan told us, “We learn how to produce good work here at APE, and I have taught weaving to two of my daughters, one of whom works here now, too.” Through her hard work, not only is Hannan able to provide for her family, but she is also passing on to her daughters the ability to support themselves as entrepreneurs.

Hannan belongs to the zabbaleen community, a group of informal trash collectors in Cairo. Their jobs are dangerous and low-paid, and living in these communities among the garbage can be hazardous for their health. In response to these challenges, APE, with the support of HANDS, has established a job-skills training and income-generating program for the women of the zabbaleen community. Using materials donated by local textile and paper factories in Egypt, the women at APE create woven, quilted, and recycled paper handicrafts to sell around the world, through organizations like HANDS. The revenue generated by these craft sales is then used to train more women at the association.

Hannan is one of several hundred women from the zabbaleen community whose lives have been transformed through this job-skills training program.  You can help HANDS impact even more women in this underserved Cairo group! Please join us at any of our scheduled handicraft sales–or consider hosting one in yourr town. Following a very successful three-day sale in New York City in May, another one is scheduled for July 12 and 13 in Chautauqua, NY. HANDS is very thankful to our volunteers who tirelessly organize these craft sales several times per year!

Together, we are partnering with the talented female entrepreneurs of Cairo’s “Garbage City” to help them achieve their goals!