The Zabbaleen People
The Zabbaleen are a minority religious
group of Coptic Christians in Cairo, Egypt.
They are set in the Muqqattam village in
Zabbaleen in Arabic means “Garbage
Collectors” or Garbage People”
They are a community that lives with
recycled products; 85% of what they use
They are known as the informal garbage
collectors as they make their living with
their waste management system.
They recycle and dispose most garbage
and whatever can’t be recycled they
feed to the pigs.
Another part of their economic system is
to feed the non-recyclable items to their
pigs in order to fatten them up.
Afterwards, they sell the pigs.
The Egyptian government gave
government contracts to sanitation
services so the Zabbaleens circumvented
this by collecting the trash before the
sanitation services came in.
The main character in this story is a 7 year old
girl named Marina.
She is in school in hopes to become a doctor,
one of the only ones in the village in school.
Although in a poor family where her mother is
constantly worried about their landlord
evicting them, she is a rather innocent girl
riding flying elephants, befriending mystical
Zabbaleen Coptic Christians
In Egypt, Christians are a minority group where
there is an 85% Muslim population; in this
community, the Christians and Muslims get along.
Religion is a central part of the community as
Marina’s school is taught in a Christian manner.
Kids of the Zabbaleen community are forced to
get tattoos of the cross to always remember their
original religion; this originated from Roman
persecution of Christians.
Near the end of the documentary there
was a festival celebrating the Virgin Mary
where they believed the Virgin Mary
appears as a white dove.
Near the end of the movie Marina’s family
almost got kicked out by their angry landlord
who had a rather colorful rant, but weren’t
evicted in the end.
This documentary was filmed during the
summer of 2005
In 2009, the Zabbaleens were wiped out of
their village due to the H1N1 virus (aka: Swine
The pigs were taken from the Zabaleens by
the Egyptian government.
Marina and her family still remained in the
village, however their future remains