Friday, May 2, 2014

Egyptian Craft Sale at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church

We just got word from WQXR.FM’s classical music hostess (and Jade Sphinx reader) Nimet Habachy that the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church is hosting a sale of Egyptian crafts to help Egypt’s Moqattam community.  The sale will be held May 6, 7, and 8, from Noon till 8:00 PM at the Church, located at the Christian Education Center (lower level), 7 West 55th Street, New York. 

These sales are essential if Egypt's Moqattam community is to continue to survive.  The schools and the recycling project that sustains the Moqattam continue to give hope to the young women and their families ravaged by the recent revolution. 

“As the Egyptian Revolution enters its third year, it has become clear that the sales of goods made in Egypt and sold in New York and elsewhere keep this project not only alive, but expanding,” Habachy told your correspondent.  “Many girls and women and their children are waiting to enter the two schools in Moqattam, and the sale of new quilts, rugs, bags, place mats and paper products from Cairo will fund this initiative.  We are so proud of the achievement of these young women who work so hard, and who manage to create beauty in such difficult circumstances. By joining us in this project, you help many poor women in this very poor country to a better life.”

The Moqattam hills near Cairo’s Citadel is the home of the Zabbaleen people.  This community produces many of the Egyptian craft items that are purchased by us here in the West.  Ongoing violence, demonstrations and curfews have restricted normal activity, and Cairenes are not venturing out to purchase the cottage-industry goods produced by the Zabbaleen people, and their survival has become dependent on the sales of their goods in the US.

The Zabbaleen supported themselves for generations by collecting trash door-to-door from the residents of Cairo for nearly no charge. Notably, the Zabbaleen recycle up to 80 percent of the waste that they collect, whereas most Western garbage collecting companies can only recycle 20 to 25 percent of the waste that they collect.  Living conditions for the Zabbaleen are very poor, as they live amid the trash they sort in their village, and with the pigs to which they feed their organic waste.

As trade for these simple people withers away, the Zabbaleen will suffer – the efforts to advance hygiene and literacy in the community will languish and the two schools which have been established will disappear.

We here at The Jade Sphinx attended the last sale and returned with a bag-full of goodies.  This event is recommended to those who want to support a worthy cause, and find beautiful, hand-made things at an affordable price.  

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