Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 6, 2015

The House of Joseph

Helwan, Egypt

Without the Zabbaleen, Cairo would eventually drown in its own garbage. The industrious people known as Zabbaleen are always in constant motion — transporting Cairo’s garbage to their homes, sorting through it, bagging up recyclable items, loading their salvage onto trucks and carts, and finally transporting their goods to market. This is the lifecycle of the Zabbaleen.

South Slum Trash Men
Being among the Zabbaleen is like visiting a colony of ants. They work hard in order to survive. They have no choice. And because sorting through mountains of garbage yields barely enough for families to subsist, every family member must pitch in and help, including the kids. No child labor laws. No holidays. No paid sick leave. No health care plan. Only hard work.

South Slum Trash Boy
For the children who must work alongside their parents, education is a pipe dream. Although a few families manage to send their kids to school, most are unable to afford the costs associated with an education. As a result, many Zabbaleen kids remain trapped in a cycle of generational poverty. Unless something happens to free them, these kids will grow up unable to read or write.

A little more than two years ago, our missions ministry explored the possibility of making education accessible to one of several Zabbalen villages. After lots of prayer and discussion with our friends at Global Hope Network, a faith-based humanitarian group, we decided to take on the challenge of giving Zabbaleen kids a hand up and a way out. And, we looked to our own children as the way to kickstart this initiative.

Orange Girl
Every year we challenge the kids who attend Kingsland’s Vacation Bible School to help change the world for kids in need around the globe. Two years ago we asked our kids to raise funds to help build a school for Zabbaleen kids. We want for our kids to understand that they do not have to wait until they are grown-ups to make a difference but that God can use them to change the world now.

Team in Garden
Our kids accepted the challenge and raised the funds to get things started. With the help of our partners in Cairo, we secured a piece of property and hired local labor to construct a simple three room building that is contextually consistent with the surrounding construction. Our little campus, which our friend Jamal Hashweh, the Middle East Director of Global Hope Network, has christened the House of Joseph, will be a game-changer for the kids in the village.

Yesterday, we officially opened and dedicated the House of Joseph campus. Ryan Rush, Kingsland’s new senior pastor, had the opportunity to speak to parents about the role they must play in order to help change the future for their kids. Kingsland member David Budke, our missions ministry’s point man for our work here, set up a distribution of solar lights for the homes in this sans-electricity village.

David & Pastor Ryan
In addition to outfitting two classrooms, we have set aside one room as a clinic — the only access to medical care in the village. I am grateful to David for his hard work in establishing this clinic and for serving as our liaison as we move forward with education and medical initiatives. David will return to Egypt with Kingsland volunteers twice a year to serve at the House of Joseph.

Pastor Ryan in Home
As Pastor Ryan and I walked through the village with our partners, we stopped to visit with a single mother of three who is struggling to eke out a living. She told us that her son’s behavior has already changed for the better as a result of attending classes and Bible club sessions at the House of Joseph. Her story is the first-fruits of many more good stories to come from this village of garbage collectors. Her story is also a reminder that the real treasure in the sea of garbage surrounding the House of Joseph is the next generation of children. Thanks, Kingsland kids, for helping to change the world for Zabbaleen kids.

Asmi w Kid_____
Please follow the adventures of our women’s justice team currently working with our partners in Kolkata, India at


  1. This is excellent. Well done. Db

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Thanks, David. And thanks for taking point on this partnership.

  2. My heart and prayers are with you on this celebration trip to Helwan! So much has been done to bring light to this dark place in physical and spiritual ways. I know what those lights mean to this village. Thank you for seeing what can happen when we take light into the darkness! Great work, David and Pastor Omar. “You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14

    • Thanks, Katherine. And thanks for all your good work among the Zabbaleen.

  3. This is fantastic! Thank God for each Kingsland kid and family who gave, and thank Him for all the folks who worked and still work behind the scenes for those kids. And prayers to the teachers – that is hard work in any culture! God be praised.

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