‘Out funding from the World Bank, and even being

‘Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,We, the people, must redeemThe land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.The mountains and the endless plain—All, all the stretch of these great green states—And make America again!’As a child I always wondered why my life was so mismatched once I got to the United States. In the corners of Cairo and Alexandria we hailed as Coptic, or Copts, which, when translated, literally means “People of Egypt”, as in, natives.* We are an ancient Christian community whose language, the final stage of the Ancient Egyptian language, was wiped from public knowledge and limited to our churches.*My people, an ethno-religious minority, have faced intense systematic discrimination, as do most indigenous populations. This usually includes access to essential services such as health, education and basic protection (Phinney and Rotheram 1987).*So we set for the United States, in search of a voice we never had, a voice we were denied for so long, a voice that we’re finally beginning to raise.Coming from a people that must navigate past misrepresentation, discrimination, and sometimes execution creates the most resilient communities of life, that against all odds they still move forward. If society wants to avoid the worst of these conditions it must consult with the communities who have adapted to the worst.The Zabbaleen (literally “trash people”), a historically Coptic community in the slums of Cairo, has endured many years of governmental oppression. During the 2009 swine flu epidemic the World Health Organization stated pigs were completely unrelated to the spread of swine flu; but the government of Egypt bowed to the pressure of islamic leaders of the state who, viewing them as “unclean” and “defiled”, slaughtered 300,000 pigs in Zabbaleen alone. Those pigs were an essential source of income and a vital component of the internationally-renowned, yet very primitive, recycling system of the Zabbaleen,*  which left over 2.5 million Copts hungry for months with no source of income nor pork to eat nor sell. Nevertheless, they continue to be a boon to the nation, now collecting two-thirds of Cairo’s entire waste and recycling up to 85% of it.*   They maintain one of the world’s most efficient waste disposal/recycling systems ever, garnering international praise and funding from the World Bank, and even being recognized at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit for their incredible work. There’s something much greater here that can, and should always be recognized about marginalized communities. They utilize trash to the best of their abilities, whether its environmental trash, or inequality trash.What do I mean by that?You see when it comes to environmental change -say water conservation- everyone will shower on average once every 1-2 days, anything less than that (no comment). So we’re going to use that water, whether one of us takes a 5 minute shower or not, it will be filled with soaps and shampoos and various other chemicals. What good is a short shower to water conservation when it’s been made so difficult to re-use? Using less of anything is crucial to conservation, but considering where it goes afterwards is what really matters.Somehow, the Coptic community has turned trash into opportunity, utilizing their needs from the bare scraps of economic and religious freedom that they’re given.From the lack of Native American Land rights or the lack of infrastructure in Zabbaleen to the environmental racism producing the water conditions in Flint, Michigan, we are bearing witness to amazing conservation initiatives and activism by marginalized communities. Initiatives that have yet to find their way to the larger population. This is why we must amplify the voices of the voiceless.So, in consideration of my peoples’ suffering and continued resilience I have to consider what role of social change I can bring them. Because we understand accomplishing a goal is important, but understanding where it began is where the true value lies. I mean how can you appreciate where you’re going when you don’t know where you’ve come from?MANRRS has given me the ability to bring a light to my people, a light that so many didn’t have and I so plan to use well. No other organization can provide me the ability to inform the world of marginalized communities and their resolve against reckless despotism. MANRRS has been able to help minorities build a better tomorrow, even if only a little bit better than yesterday.So I say again,Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,We, the people, must redeemThe land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.The mountains and the endless plain—All, all the stretch of these great green states—And make America again!