Middle East

Cleaning plastics from the Nile, transforming it into business


Gifts of the Nile

The film Gifts of the Nile takes us to Qursaya Island in Cairo, Egypt along the Nile River. This film takes us on a journey alongside River Hero Alban De Ménonville and his team at VeryNile as they work to remove plastics from the Nile River, while also educating the community and raising awareness around the importance of conservation in our waterways.

After noticing that the communities’ traditional ways of fishing were becoming more challenging due to the amount of plastic that entered the river, VeryNile quickly took action launching the “Reviving Cairo Fishermen” project. This project utilizes local fishermen and women and their knowledge of the river to assist in cleaning out any plastic, and in turn, pays them an above-average wage for putting in the work. This allows the river to be cleaned on a grassroots level by those who grew up on the riverbank and provides additional sources of income for the local community.

The film also follows artisan worker Loza Mahmoud and her fisherman husband, Hamed Aly Hamed, as they show their day-to-day lifestyle raising three children on Qursaya Island and depending on the Nile River to make a living for their family. As Hamed heads out to the fishery each morning with his young son, they focus on net fishing before switching their focus to plastic removal along the river.

After realizing that the fish tend to come and go, but the plastic is always there, Hamed makes it a priority to pull bags of plastic out of the river and bring them to a sorting facility. These sorting facilities are employed by locals from the VeryNile organization and are able to compact, package and store the plastic until its ready to be upcycled.

clean nile movie

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We are then introduced to Salma Ellakany, a VeryNile educator, who focuses on teaching the next generation the importance of conservation. Raising awareness amongst the youth in the area will give these declining ecosystems a chance as the next generation learns to use their passion to help their local community.

To come full circle, these bags of plastic that are stored after being removed from the river are then broken down and processed into colorful textiles, purses, hats and other home goods, allowing locals to sell these products as artists and creators. This has brought community locals together, working in unison with one topic of focus – sustainability.

“We have 40 full-time people (artisans, plastic operators) and we are working with around 100 fishermen; so that’s a total of 140 local families benefiting directly from this project,“ said Alban De Ménonville. “We translate a problem into opportunities that positively affect our communities and the health of the Nile River.”

Learn more about cleaning the Nile, and join the efforts of VeryNile if you are traveling to Egypt.

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