CAIRO-Elrazaz is an isolated community within Cairo. It is only a few blocks away from several main streets, but manages to maintain its own identity. The over one million populated region represents a lower socio-economic section in Egypt’s’ society.
Dirt roads filled with trash lead the way to run-down brick houses and unsteady doors and windows. Satellite dishes and unfinished rooms cover the top of the clustered homes, and clothes lines hang from the outer walls decorating the city with different shades of wardrobes.
An uphill street in Elrazaz. Photo: Constanza Gallardo
15 to 20 years ago, the pioneers of Elrazaz came from various cities in Egypt to find work in Cairo, and through the years established a warm home for their families.
“We all live in peace because we all know each other,” says Kamal Sayed Abdu Allah, 45, a local teacher who has been living here for 15 years. “There is no Muslim vs. Christian issue here since everyone feels like they are a big family.”
Most of the men are drivers or small manufacturers who collect wood, glass or any recyclable material. The women stay at home to take care of their families, and in most households five children is the minimum. However, there is a part of the male populations who are unemployed and are not able to provide for their vast families.
Two mothers walking with their daughters on their way back home. Photo: Constanza Gallardo
Unemployment is not the only problem that Elrazaz faces. Lack of economic stability and education are among the top concerns, as well as the rising amount of trash accumulating in and outside the community.
“We have tried to report the problems at the police station, but nothing ever happens,” says Sayed. “The only time the Government communicates with us is during the elections. After that, we never hear from them again.”
Sayed and other concerned parents in the community agree that the inadequate education that their children are receiving is the first problem that must be solved as many of the youth attending school are still illiterate.
This is why they decided to take action instead of waiting for the Government to help. Sayed donated a room in his home to the community as a classroom, where it welcomes 40 small children daily, and teaches students about ethics, reading and writing.
“I want to give something back to my community, and I believe education is the most important thing,” he says. “My dream is to make my home an area for small children to learn everything from the alphabet to using a computer.”