Posted by Nevine Yassa, National Coordinator for Canada , Rotary's Inter-Country Committee

In the spirit of giving, this year The Rotary District 7070 Inter-Country Committee is incorporating one of Rotary-ICC activities which act as a twin edge sword. Just as the Christmas Cakes are one of our many fundraising Rotary activities, by implementing Rotary's motto “Service Above Self”, the Rotary-ICC, increases awareness about other cultures through Art and culture......


Rotary-ICC collaborates with Rising Out of the Ashes (ROOTA) aiming at increasing awareness re a marginalized community in Egypt: mainly the recyclers of Egypt i.e. the Zabaleen (Garbage Collectors) in Egyptian. These incredible recyclers create Art from trash and scrap fabric.

As Christmas holidays are approaching, and in the spirit of giving, you may buy one of the products of Zabaleen and know that 50% of the proceeds are going to Rotary while the other half is going to these amazing recyclers The Zabaleen who are repurposing garbage.

The Zabaleen have been Cairo’s informal garbage collectors since the 1940’s and number between 50,000 to 70,000. The Zabaleen transport the garbage to their homes sort the garbage, and sell it to a middleman or create new products from the recycled garbage. These are a hardworking and self-sustaining people offering informal and yet organized service throughout the city. Garbage is an asset to them. This is their daily life.

What are their products ?    Greeting Cards, quilts, hand bags, blankets, and woven rugs.

Sample pictures of their products, and the Roota objectives can be viewed on the Roota at


Please support Rotary and Rotary-ICC by surfing the website at    Note that all items purchased will be delivered to your club.

Here is one example how Rotary Clubs have already helped:

The Rotary Club of Scarborough supported the Zabaleen (garbage collectors in Egyptian) in Egypt allowing women to be independent entrepreneurs by donating four looms to these very efficient recyclers.

ROOTA (Rising Out of the Ashes), is a non-profit organization founded here in Canada by Nevine and some friends, and their mission is to raise the social, educational, economical and health standards of marginalized groups in Egypt. Their present focus is on the Zabaleen of the Mokattam Mountain in Cairo.

They are all volunteers and work with an NGO on site in Egypt called APE (Association of the Protection of Environment) who know the needy on site and disperse the looms as they deem fit.


APE is looking at the increased number in population and hence, they are in dire need of opening new schools for tutoring, and pre-school.


 APE currently focuses on four key areas: Environment, Empowerment, Education, and Employment.

Roota’s role here in Canada is to increase awareness about a marginalized community in Egypt called the Zabaleen.

 The word “Zabaleen” is an Egyptian Arabic word which means “garbage collectors”. The Zabaleen have been Cairo’s informal garbage collectors since the 1940’s. They are spread around seven different settlements in Cairo and number between 50,000 to 70,000. The Zabaleen once used donkeys to pull carts but now use trucks to transport the garbage to their homes in Mokattam, where they sort the garbage, and then sell it to a middleman or create new products from their recycled garbage. This is a hardworking community and self-sustaining people offering informal and yet organized service throughout the city. Garbage is an asset to them. This is their daily life.  

The Zabaleen recycle up to 80 percent of the waste that they collect, soliciting the help of goats and pigs to consume much of the organic waste. The Zabaleen have recently been recognized by the government as an integral part of Egyptian society.

 Roota is a Non-Profit Organization, ROOTA’s mission is to:

  • support APE in their running health and education programs for the Zabaleen women and children in Egypt.

  • train the Zabaleen on the proper, safe, efficient, and sanitary means of collecting, recycling, and selling their raw material,

  • provide workshops on Hepatitis B and C awareness, diabetes and anemia and administer early detection tests for Hepatitis C,

  • teach and empower women to generate revenue

  • Support APE by promoting Zabaleen products in Canada

  • Promote local events where Zabaleen products can be obtained

Current Status:

  • Women are exercising their rights, participate openly, express themselves freely, and are covered by social insurance.

  • Recreational Programs: exposure and mobility outside the community, skills training, sense of ownership and responsibility enable girls and women living in marginalized communities to make informed decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their families.

  • To .date more than 80% of women living in one of the most marginalized communities in Cairo have been directly or indirectly reached by APE’s programs 

An intercountry committee, or ICC, is a network of Rotary clubs or districts in two or more countries working together. They’re formed with the approval of district governors.

The mission of an Inter-Country Committee is to connect people in facilitating the creation, development, and progress of an effective and sustainable international network of bilateral relations and activities to catch all opportunities in a tuned effort to promote a climate for maintaining Peace and improving Understanding, worldwide.
Inter-Country Committees have been part of our Rotary World since 1950 and, as you might know, they represent a further strategy to accomplish Rotary’s objectives.

Starting with the twinning of clubs across countries, international contacts between Rotarians increased in a spirit of tolerance and comprehension. Soon Rotarians, clubs, and districts from the two countries of an Inter-Country Committee realized that only working together on common projects, actions and initiatives could further promote peace through improved communications and mutual understanding.

Today there are more than 300 Inter-Country Committees in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America are country-based activities for direct bilateral humanitarian and peace efforts, using all Rotary International programs and initiatives with a priority on those, which can prepare the ground for peace between countries and within them.

Our Inter-Country Committee has been established between Canada and Egypt on October 2015. Nevine Yassa (of the Rotary Club of Scarborough and District 7070 ICC Chair) went to Rotary International Headquarters, in Evanston, Illinois to attend the Executive Council on Oct 1-2, 2015 on ICC, delivered the signed proclamation between both countries, and met with RI President Ravi Ravindran.

For more info, be sure to check out :  Inter-Country Committee