A Research Assistant from the Department of Psychology is raising money through her charity to provide education for children living on a garbage dump in Egypt.
Nicola Doherty became involved with the ‘garbage village’ in Cairo back in 2006, after her friend Julie Flavell described her volunteer work there. Nicola said:
Julie spoke so passionately about the village that it immediately sparked my interest. So many people visit Cairo, completely unaware that just a few hundred yards from their hotel, behind an eight foot high concrete wall lies Mottamodia where an entire community live in poverty. I got involved and four years later, in 2010, Julie and I decided to register as an official charity, to raise our fundraising profile and give credibility to our work, and WELCOME was born.”
Raising awareness and providing basic support
Today, WELCOME raises awareness of the plight of thousands of people living in the garbage villages around Cairo whilst providing basic day-to-day support and funding education. Nicola continued:
Our charity is built on a legacy of informal support that has centred on the village by raising funds to build toilets, classrooms and homes, buy educational materials and to run summer camps at a Red Sea resort for the past decade.”
Sponsor a child's education scheme
Recently the charity has developed a new scheme where individuals can sponsor a child for £15.00 so that the child can receive schooling for a year. Nicola explained:
People living in the village do not have access to free basic resources such as education and health care. There is a school in the village where children can receive education, but it costs £15.00 a year and unfortunately most parents simply can’t afford to send their child. Our charity believes that to make a real difference to this village, education needs to be at the forefront. The most fundamental aspect of this scheme to me is that I personally know these families and I understand important it is to them that their child receives education. Parents truly believe that education will help their children to break the cycle of hardship that they know only too well. Through our personal approach with the village, we will be able to monitor and follow the progress of each child throughout their education, as well as further opportunities that may arise in their future resulting from education. This is a very exciting time for the charity and those involved with it and I look forward to seeing what an impact this has in future years on individual families, as well as the village as a whole.
“The people who live in Mottamodia are kind, loving people, surrounded but completely ignored by the more affluent population of Cairo. They struggle with honour and pride to make a living by re-cycling the garbage of the city, gleaning every last possible item of any value from items discarded as rubbish. They literally eat, live and sleep on this garbage, meaning that so many basic needs that we take for granted every day, nutritious food, shelter, education, access to health care aren’t met.
“We can help raise expectations, education and health, so that future generations will be better equipped to beat the poverty their parents know only too well.”
WELCOME runs an annual summer camp on the Red Sea for the children of the village, which, for many, is the only holiday they will ever experience. The camp gives the children the opportunity to not worry about work, whether they are going to eat that day and to just let them be carefree children. Nicola said:
We play games, teach English, encourage team work, creativity and generally have lots of fun. Many of these children have never left the garbage village, so these are all very new experiences for them. Children who came to the camp six years ago when I first began are now returning to the camp as team leaders.”
Building a brighter future
The charity has raised funds in recent years to purchase materials to build classrooms, houses and toilets. Some of the houses consist of one room simply made of bricks and cement; however to many it is their first family home.
Nicola and other WELCOME volunteers also help out when they can in the Cairo orphanage, feeding, cleaning and playing with children who have been abandoned on doorsteps to give the workers there a well-deserved rest.
Nicola described how volunteering at the Mottamodia has changed her life:
When I first heard about the village back in 2006, I didn’t realise what an impact it would have on my life. Although I’ve seen a lot of poverty elsewhere in the world, I’m now in a position where I am able to positively impact this community and I am so grateful for that opportunity. I think that so many people are keen to support villages such as this, however knowing where to start can be overwhelming. The advantage that I have is a great relationship with many families in the village, who help to direct and guide our work. They’ve welcomed us all into their lives and are the reason I go back year in and year out. I enjoy watching the village develop one small bit at a time and I am so excited about its future. It has definitely taught me to look at my life in a different way and to appreciate what I have. I truly hope and believe that I am going to be involved with the village for the rest of my life. The next steps are to raise more money to buy materials to build more classrooms, and be able to employee people within the village to undertake the building work and to teach in the classrooms."
How to get involved
If you would like to find out more about WELCOME and its work, or would like to get involved with volunteering or fundraising for the charity yourself, you can email Nicola or visit the WELCOME website. Donations are always welcome via the WELCOME Virgin Money Giving page. (100% of donations go directly to the people of Mottamodia, as volunteers cover all their own travel and accommodation costs.)
The charity also regularly sends over shipments of clothes and educational materials to the village and are always keen to receive donations of children’s clothes and toys. Email Nicola if you would like to be added to their mailing list to receive details of future shipment dates. Nicola can arrange to collect your donations from your home.