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images of zaballeen children who with 60,000 others live on the outskirts of cairo in the world’s largest garbage village. members of egypt’s minority coptic christian community, these entrepreneurial garbage workers recycle nearly all the trash they collect (4000 tones a day), including organic refuse they feed to their pigs. despite the invaluable service they provide to the city, the zaballeen (roughly translated as garbage collectors) live more like untouchables and struggle for legitimacy. with government apprehension over swine flu fears stripping the zaballeen of their pigs, and the advent of european multinationals contracted to collect the cities garbage (lowering the city’s recycling rate from the 80% of the zabelleen to less than 20%), the survival of this community (which dates back generations) is now under threat.

photos peter dench
pbs independent lens, “garbage dreams

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