Theological Tuesday

The Monastery of Saint Simon, a church built into a cave in Egypt, is home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. This Cave Church draws more than 70,000 Coptic worshipers every week.
Egypt is a Muslim-majority country, but the Zabbaleen are Coptic Christians, at least, 90 percent of them are. Christian communities are rare to find in Egypt, so the Zabbaleen prefer to stay in Mokattam within their own religious community even though many of them could afford houses elsewhere.

The Cave Church has an inside capacity for 20,000 worshippers. Thousands more gather outside of it to join in services each week.

The Zabbaleen are descendants of farmers who started migrating from Upper Egypt to Cairo in the 1940s. Fleeing poor harvests and poverty they came to the city looking for work and set-up makeshift settlements around the city. Initially, they stuck to their tradition of raising pigs, goats, chickens and other animals, but eventually found collecting and sorting of waste produced by the city residents more profitable. The Zabbaleen sort through household garbage, salvaging and selling things of value, while the organic waste provides an excellent source of food for their animals. In fact, this arrangement worked so well, that successive waves of migrants came from Upper Egypt to live and work in the newly founded garbage villages of Cairo, reports Amusing Planet.

For years, the makeshift settlements of the Zabbaleen were moved around the city trying to avoid the municipal authorities. Finally, a large group of Zabbaleen settled under the cliffs of the Mokattam or Moquattam quarries at the eastern edge of the city, which now has grown from a population of 8,000 in the early 1980s, into the largest garbage collector community in Cairo, with approximately 30,000 Zabbaleen inhabitants.

 

38%
×