Egyptian family cleaning up the Nile after work

Mohamed Nassar lives, the fisherman from the Qursaya island he is, of the fish populating Egypt’s Nile but for whatever the river gives him and his family he tries to return the favour by removing garbage from its waters and banks.

Once the fish are sold, the 59-year-old fisherman goes back to his boat where he collects garbage thrown in the Nile, which he calls home and the source of his livelihood.

He then hands over the collected waste to the headquarters of the VeryNile initiative. The organisation purchases the garbage he brings for 14 Egyptian pounds (USD 0.71) per kilo, a much-needed source of additional income to feed his family of five.

Launched in 2018, the initiative’s goal is to create sustainable means to clean the Nile and recycle waste while supporting fishermen.

Nassar’s after-work activity has become, in a manner of speaking, a family business with his niece Hayam Mohamed and her son Yahya giving the elder a helping hand. Now all of them join forces to protect the environment while securing a decent living.

While the grandfather extracts trash from the Nile, the niece, with other women, irons layers of discarded plastic bags that can later be used in producing bags and other products.

Meanwhile, her 22-year-old son grabs the oars and rows the boat. He too participates in processing the plastic bottles.

As reported by Reuters, weekends are usually the best days for Nassar in terms of selling plastic. This is because those frequenting large boats, the so-called feluccas, and wedding halls on the Nile discard huge amounts of waste into the Nile.

Over the weekend, Nassar would collect 70 kilograms of bottles a day, as opposed to 20 kilograms daily during weekdays.

Over the past four years, VeryNile has collected almost 180 tonnes of waste and employed nearly 65 fishermen. In 2020, the initiative launched the workshop to recycle plastic waste to support women residents of the Qursaya island who otherwise could not find suitable job opportunities.