Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 6, 2014

Among Heaps of Garbage

Helwan, Egypt

Being among the Zabbaleen is like being in an alternate universe — in a troubling place that should not exist but that does. The second we turned off the main road south of Cairo and onto the hard-packed dirt road leading to the desolate place where the Zabbaleen have staked their claims, we immediately sensed that we were entering a version of hell on earth. The road that winds through the Zabbaleen’s makeshift hovels is hemmed in by bulging bags of garbage guarded by swarms of flies. Mothers nurse their babies among this filth as kids caked in dirt entertain themselves with found junk. This is not what childhood should look like.

We too have staked a claim among the heaps of garbage in Helwan. Last year the children who attended Vacation Bible School at Kingsland raised almost $15,000 to fund a school for Zabbaleen kids. Through our partners at Global Hope Network, we were able to secure a plot of land in Helwan where we are building a haven of hope. At present, three rooms are complete. Two will serve as classrooms to educate the kids and one will serve as the only medical clinic in the village. The large courtyard in the back has been cleared of garbage. We will transform this area into a playground, complete with trees and grass — something unfamiliar to the Zabbaleen.

Today, we visited several of the homes that now have roofs and floors because of the generosity of our Kingsland family. Every beneficiary of our kindness expressed their gratitude. Something as simple as a roof that does not leak has greatly contributed to improved morale. For the vast majority of these people, they could never have saved enough to make these improvements on their own. They simply do not make enough money sorting through garbage and selling recyclable items. No one here has a sense of entitlement. They are just grateful to be the unwitting recipients of another’s kindness.

Most of the Zabbaleen are Coptic Christians and have an understanding of the Christian faith. While some are literate, many parents and kids have never learned to read and write, something we hope to address through our school. This evening we showed the Jesus Film in the courtyard of our school. Showing the Jesus Film is part of our strategy to help the Zabbalen become more grounded in their faith. After the film, many wanted to see it again. In the coming weeks our partners at Global Hope and Campus Crusade will follow-up on the families that watched the film. This week we will also provide a children’s pictorial Bible for each home so that even the non-literate families can relate the pictures to the Bible stories they learn.

I believe that Helwan can become a place of hope as we develop a long-term partnership to give the Zabbaleen a hand-up and give their children a way out of poverty by educating them. I am so proud of our Kingsland kids for once again helping to make a difference in the lives of kids they have never met. We must continue to fulfill the part of our purpose statement that says we will equip the next generation, one home at a time. By helping our kids to understand that life is not all about them and that they should consider the needs of others, we are unleashing a mighty force for good that will bring glory to God among the nations. Today, I saw God glorified among heaps of garbage because of the compassionate response of our kids to a great need among the Zabbaleen.



  1. Thanks for sharing. Ryan and I enjoyed reading it. It’s great for the kids to see where the money raised went.

    • Thanks, Kim. What a blessing to see funds invested by our kids making an impact for the kingdom in such a hard place.

  2. Beautiful

    • Thanks, Dacques. We have had a great day among the Zabbaleen.

  3. What an awesome tribute and legacy you guys continue to build

  4. God bless and leep you as you minister to the Zabbaleen. i thank my God for ypur vision and obedient heart.

    • Thanks so much, Marcia. I appreciate your prayers and friendship.

  5. I am keep reading the posts. now I’m following your journey to the ministrying among the Zabbalee people!



    North Bengal


    • Thanks for reading about our trip, Mortuza. Blessings.

  6. Praying for more and more fruit. Blessings!

    • Thanks. We are excited about taking our first but very good steps in this new work among the Zabbaleen.

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