Reaching Milestones Together - Reflecting Back

I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of sustainability over the past year and the importance of staying true to the vision of an organization. A Remnant Remains was established in 2010 to alleviate poverty and provide sustainable access to resources such as water, electricity, education, and improve livelihoods. We want to stop and take a moment to reflect on the past four years and the incredible accomplishments we have achieved together. February 2010: First Remnant Carnival and Soccer Match! A team is formed!

Spring 2011: ARR incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit organization in California

June 2011: ARR successfully installed the FIRST ever solar panel nodes on slum homes in Cairo. This is huge considering the Egyptian government was trying to establish the first solar plant in 2010 and halted the project due to the instability with the Egyptian revolution. In the midst of instability, we were blessed and somehow retrieved the solar panels and installed them on community homes through the help of our remarkable engineer, Andrew Nathan.


February 2012: we brokered deals with local government contractors and successfully implemented project H20 - providing access to water for this garbage village for the first time in 15 years! Imagine 15 years without access to water? 15 years of having to travel miles upon miles just to access water. The Helwan community now has access to water coming to their very own homes. Thanks to all our donors who've helped support us, we've been able to partner with local community members and ensure these pippes are servicing the entire village of over 3,000 residents.

June 2012: We started our Remnant Nursery as an effort to ensure children were receiving an early childhood education while their parents were off at work, collecting garbage. This is a seasonal nursery that was operated by residents of the garbage village and provided education and care for around 25-30 children.

remnant nursery
remnant nursery

2013: Micro-loans/livelihoods project - ARR provided over 20 re-investable micro-loans to entrepreneurs in the garbage village, enabling them to start businesses like grocery stores, donkey/cart transportation systems, hair dressers, and more. These micro-loans have been re-invested in the community to other entrepreneurs in the village. Once a resident pays back their loan, the money is used to invest in another project and entrepreneurial idea in the community, leveraging funds over and over again.

2014: Recycling Project: in 2014 we launched our largest project to date, our "Renewable & Recycling Project". This project leveraged the entrepreneurial nature of garbage collectors by cutting out the middle man in the value chain and allowing collectors the ability to retain more of their cash that they obtain through recycling. ARR purchased a high yielding Hydrolic Press machine to help compress key essential materials in trash like paper and plastic into sellable tonnage. This project was managed by multiple stakeholders including ARR, community members, and investors. This project was led and operated by community residents and trained community leaders in financial management, efficient methods of recycling, value chain in recycling, and brokering deals/contracts with external companies interested in purchasing raw materials. This pilot project lasted for fall 2014 and is under re-evaluation to see the plausibility of replicating this model elsewhere.

20131022_151849 (2)
20131022_151849 (2)

We are grateful that each year we have been blessed to work with an incredible team and have achieved such remarkable milestones. However, there is still much more to be done in Egypt and beyond. Any organization truly committed to sustainability has to come to a crossroads at some point where they feel they've either worked themselves out of a job or it's time to expand elsewhere.

For us, the work we have done in this garbage village is coming to a close - we have achieved all the milestones we set out to achieve. That is truly something to celebrate!

As we close off 2014, I wanted to say thank you - to my team, to the Remnant, to the community members who make this all possible, and to God for allowing such remarkable milestones to be achieved in one of the most difficult political, social, and economic climates in Egypt. Who would have thought the impossible could be achieved during a revolution?

Thank you to all who helped us achieve this dream and thank you to those who continue to partner with us in 2015 and beyond as we look to expand our efforts, reach, and impact.

Happy (early) New Year from all of us to you!

The Power of Giving: Giving Tuesday + Beyond!

The Power of Giving


During the holidays, we often get caught up in the chaos of consumerism- buying Christmas gifts for ourselves, our family, and loved ones. It's a wonderful season that can quickly be stripped of the joy and wonder by frantic consumerism, advertisements, and social media vying for our attention.

This holiday season, we want to challenge you to Give to people outside your immediate circle - people in need. The people who often need the most are the ones who tend to say the least or have the least access to resources like social media to express their need.

On Giving Tuesday, the Remnant challenges you to give to people in need, both near and far. Below are organizations that we chose and recommend for you to Give to - not just today but this Holiday season and beyond.

Below you'll find need in 5 different nations. 5 different organizations. Give to one or give to all!

1. A Remnant Remains - Provide access to jobs and basic resources like solar electricity and water to residents of the garbage village in Egypt. Your funds will go toward expanding income generation projects, providing holiday packages and meals to families in need, as well as contribute to solar panel installation on village homes.

Solar Light to the Remnant, Egypt- Click to watch video

2. New Reality International (http://www.newrealityinternational.org/) - Help NRI build a sustainable children's village in Haiti by donating to their work through Project 7.

3. Global Unites (http://www.globalunites.org/) - Empower youth to partake in conflict resolution at the Global Unites Summit in Sri Lanka in 2015. Your funds enable youth from 25 different nations to attend the summit and actively work toward conflict transformation for their nations.

4. Alabastar Mobile Clinic (http://www.alabastermc.org/) - Help provide essential medical supplies and equipment to rural villages in Kenya by donating to AMC.

5. Goonj(http://goonj.org/) - Provide flood relief in India while supporting innovative recycling programs that are contributing to getting children out of poverty in India.

Happy Giving!

- The Remnant

A Remnant Remains + Global Unites Conference

Being a garbage collector is not a dream job in any country, but in Egypt it can be a trap that for collectors and their generations to follow. Imagine living on an endless pile of trash. Your daily activities include collecting waste, bringing it back for your children to sort, and then selling valuable materials like plastic to a middle man company who retains 30% of your profit.What is more remarkable is that these entrepreneurial garbage collectors who have a sorting accuracy rate of 80% are not recognized by the formal government for their tremendous efforts in keeping Cairo clean. Instead, many receive a meager household tip as their wage which is nothing when you have to feed a family of up to ten people.

In 2010, I founded A Remnant Remains; a volunteer based nonprofit organization committed to sustainable development in the garbage villages of Egypt. The goal of the organization was to improve the livelihoods of these garbage collectors by providing them access to essential resources such as water, electricity, and income generation. To accomplish this goal, we installed a first of its kind solar node system powering 3-5 homes at once. Garbage collectors are not only accessing sustainable electricity but are learning the power of community based solutions and environmental sustainability. This initiative led to the creation of an income generating recycling program where waste is recycled, granulated, and then sold to plastic companies, turning trash into cash for garbage collectors. The goal of A Remnant Remains is to provide a model for sustainable development to those at the bottom of the pyramid who cannot find a way out. By providing individuals with options for improving their livelihoods, people can become active contributors to society, turning something as seemingly valueless as trash into income.

The Arab Spring started off as an outcry against this type of economic frustration.  Take a look at the man whose fury sparked the Tunisian Revolution and in turn the Arab Spring itself –Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi. This 26 year old Tunisian man was trying to provide for his family by selling vegetables on the side of the road. When Bouazizi’s vegetable cart was confiscated by the authorities, he realized that his livelihood was threatened and he could no longer provide for his family. After being publicly humiliated and told to pay a 10 dinar fine, he refused and set himself on fire in protest of his livelihood being robbed from him.

Today, A Remnant Remains is trying to catalyze on the recent activism of youth by providing them volunteer opportunities in the garbage village. Some of these opportunities include children’s fairs, soccer games with youth, putting on puppet shows, face painting, conducting food distributions, and engaging with one of the most overlooked people groups in Egypt.

The goal of all these efforts is to provide youth an outlet to volunteer and take part in making the lives of others better. In January 2015, A Remnant Remains is partnering with Global Unites to invite youth across the Middle East to participate in a conflict transformation conference in Sri Lanka. This conference will be mobilizing youth from across the world, inspiring and equipping them to become a generation of peace builders across the world for youth led conflict transformation. For more information about the conference or to apply please sign up here: www.globalunites.org



Lydia Nandakumaran




Many people may not know that there is a close connection between the renewable energy industry and recycling. To put it simply, recycling helps preserve the planet and enhances all forms of renewable energy. There have been countless studies published on renewable energy and according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the most frequently used renewable resources are biomass, water, geothermal, wind and solar energy (http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=renewable_home).  Energy supply in the Arab world is expected to deplete in the next 30-50 years. to give you a sense of what this means for Egypt, we have to look at Egypt's solar potential. Egypt has an average potential solar radiation of 2,000 to 3,200kWh/square meter/year (Norton R. Fulbright, Jan. 2013). A Remnant Remains is trying to step into this needs opportunity for solar energy and improve lives of slum dwellers in the process by making them part of the energy solution through RECYCLING.

ARR’s Renewable & Recycling Program provides solar electricity through a first of its kind solar node system, powering 3-5 homes through one central node. We invest in the community by providing training on the importance of renewable energy, cost sharing, and energy efficiency. Prior to ARR’s work in the slum, most homes did not have any access to electricity and the other half operated from generator fuel. Our recycling program focuses on income generation and entrepreneurism by investing in innovative technologies such as the hydraulic press.

Garbage collectors can now own a large part of the waste management supply chain, sourcing their trash into cash. ARR has increased income potentials for households, enabling garbage collectors to produce 1,000 tons of raw materials in 1 month. ARR employs community members to run the program and provides business training. 

We are committed to this community increasing their earning potential with the hopes of getting out of poverty. If you'd like to join our team of stakeholders and donors who have made this project possible, please donate today or contact us for more information. 


Micro-Finance Programs: The Power of an Idea!

This past month we eagerly started a micro-finance program empowering two key families to implement their innovative entrepreneurial idea! We have been waiting with great anticipation to launch this micro-finance program offering loans to members in the community with the most innovative and problem solving ideas! After reviewing several ideas, we are starting to pilot with two main endeavors:

1) LOCAL GROCERY STORE - For the first time ever, community members will have access to refrigerated goods! Up till this point, people have to travel on foot and by car to the nearest grocery store - about an hour's journey (one way). By the time they would return, their refrigerated goods (cheese, milk, etc.) would melt. We had lunch with the Remnant and experienced this first hand. This project has been in the making for over a year now and is near and dear to many in the community's heart. Every single family in the village will be able to benefit from such a grocery store and it will provide as a great source of income for the family owning the idea!

2) DONKEY + CART = WORK - Some of the poorest in this community collect tons of garbage by hand and on their backs. Many cannot afford to purchase a donkey and cart to work. The entire load of collecting garbage has been on the backs of children such as these, literally "breaking their back" and slowing down their physical ability to collect the only thing they make a living off of - recyclables.

Our micro- finance program provides a loan to some of the poorest families to purchase donkeys and carts to increase their efficiency in collecting recyclables while minimizing the pain of collecting the entire city's recyclables on their backs.

All our micro-finance programs start as IDEAS from community members - it starts with the Remnant and it gets recycled back to the Remnant! Micro-finance programs are not a new phenomenon, but we believe our program is unique because we are "recycling" initial micro-finance loans back into the community, enabling others in the community to fund and actualize their income generating ideas! Once the loans are paid off, the money will be "recycled" to invest in another Remnant Idea, providing alternate sources of income, ONE FAMILY AT A TIME!

The power of an idea is endless..and we are excited to see the results and impact of those ideas on the Remnant.

Rising from Ashes..

Development and change take time and come through deep investment in people. When you least expect it, something will blossom from a seed planted at the most unexpected time, in the most unpredictable of ways. In the words of Paulo Coelho, it’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting...

Aida's story is the best evidence of this. If you haven't seen her story yet, please watch it here. The rest of this post won't make sense unless you do: Aida

The unique thing about Aida is that in 2010 she followed her dream to learn music. Our music instructor, Amir, committed to teaching music to a group of people in the village on a weekly basis, persistently and joyfully. Week after week, Aida would attend eagerly, quickly picking up difficult concepts. She took these lessons simply for her enjoyment, as did others in the village. Little did she know it would change the course of her life.

Like many in the village, Aida wanted a different life for herself and her children. She wanted a future, hope, and sustainable income for her family outside of collecting trash. She was convinced that the only way to achieve this was through education. So she made sure her children had numerous tutors outside of school and ample time learning. She knew this was their only way out, their only way of having a better life than she has.

Today, Aida has actualized her dream of finding a better life for her family. Today, she is a teacher... A MUSIC teacher, teaching music lessons to children at a nearby elementary school in the city! One decision in 2010 impacted the rest of her life without anyone ever knowing it would! Music literally is transforming her life along with her entire family and the community. She is just one beaming example of the incredible potential of the Remnant, of all human beings in the best or worst states of life to rise above their challenges and become what they have always dreamed. To find their way out of what formerly held them back. Today, Aida can attest to this and more...

Change takes time, and time brings change...and in this case, it's the positive change of seeing the Remnant rise, one by one. We have never been more excited for the future... 


As schools are starting, we are excited to announce the opening of our new nursery with over 30 children enrolled already! Access to education is a luxury that most working children never experience since they are forced into child labor early on to help their families make ends meet. Many don't learn to read or write until adulthood or late adolescents while numerous others remain illiterate their entire lives. We want to help change that cycle of illiteracy by starting early - the first five years to be exact. This nursery provides a safe place for parents to send their children to while they go to work, proving to be mutually beneficial to both child and parent.

For a quick synopsis on how the Remnant live watch this: Meet the Remnant

Thank you to all who helped make this happen. The nursery is run 100% for and by the community, investing in children during the most critical first 5 years of life. As you can see in the pictures below, the children are so eager to start learning and paving the way to a brighter future!

Here are some pictures from our grand opening.. If you have any questions or want to get involved, feel free to contact us anytime.

New Nursery!!

It seems like 2012 just started and so much progress has already been made! Somehow we are already in the month of April - it feels like just yesterday we hosted many of you at Vision For Egypt 2012 back in February! My how time does fly!

Since then, we have come so far - what an incredible year 2012 has been for us thus far...and we are only 4 months into it! Here are some exciting new updates since Vision For Egypt:

1. WE GOT ACCESS TO WATER!!! That's right - more than half of our homes have access to running water! THANK YOU to all those who gave toward this project and are continuing to give so we can ensure the rest of us access water! Remember, it's never too late to donate toward those projects: http://www.remnantremains.org/get-involved/donate/

2.We are EXPANDING our SOLAR ELECTRICITY project to another home!!

3. We are BUILDING A NURSERY from the ground up!

Most children in our community do not get a fair chance at school because they are not equipped with the proper training that pre-schools provide them (learning how to write their name, drawing a straight line, colors, etc.) We are investing in this dynamic and unique educational opportunity for children/toddlers to get a head start at school here in the village!

We are employing teachers from within the community to run this nursery,making sure all money spent goes right back into the community!

100% of all donations go toward the community so rest assured - you are making an impact!

Here's how YOU can help: - Donate bookshelves - Donate benches, folding chairs, children's chairs - Donate children's books, curriculum, coloring books (all in Arabic please) - Donate children's school supplies (crayons, pencils, notebooks, etc.) - Financial donation

If you're interested in donating, contact us to find out where you can drop the stuff off or arrange for pick up! Email us at info@remnantremains.org or fill out our volunteer contact sheet here: http://www.remnantremains.org/get-involved/contact-us/

- The Remnant




Thank you to ALL who came out and supported our event, Vision for Egypt 2012 on Saturday February 25! It was a powerful event with great speakers, video clips, and incredible people! Here are some video clips for those who were not able to join...enjoy :)  




And check out our Solar Story!



Fresh off the Press!

It seems like all we see in the media these days is negative news about the Egyptian revolution. Numerous deaths, injustices, and full blown chaos. In the midst of such a tumultuous time for Egypt, however, we have found an INCREDIBLE door of access to advocate and plead for NEW LAND for our community.  In mid December key representatives from our community and team presented a proposal to the leading institution for land relocation for slum communities in Egypt and to the Egyptian government! This has been a day we have dreamed about for years! The revolution shut down numerous opportunities for many organizations, but we were fortunate enough to find an open door for advocacy in the midst of it all.

Attached is an excerpt from Al Ahram national newspaper of the proposal for new land presented to the Egyptian government and ISDF for our community.

This is just the beginning..

If you want to support more of our advocacy projects for land relocation, water, and sustainable solar electricity project, please do so by donating, volunteering, or signing up for more updates! More to come for 2012! 

- The Remnant

Calling all volunteers!!

Are you a doctor, nurse, engineer, architect, educator, marketing/communications specialist or creative thinker? Are you interested in impacting the poor through sustainable and innovative solutions? If so, we want your help! Contact us at info@remnantremains.org to be part of our volunteer database and make a difference in Egypt!

Just as a reminder, here are the development areas we are working on:

1) providing sustainable solar electricity to community homes

2) coming up with sustainable and renewable water solutions

3) providing medical care and attention to the community

4) investing in the future through tutoring

5) building a more sustainable environment for community members(housing, awareness, lifestyle, etc.)

If any of the above areas peak your interest, please contact us at: info@remnantremains.org

Thank you and we hope to meet you soon!!


We need YOUR help!

Dear Readers, we are so excited that our solar panels have arrived but we want to make sure that excitement reaches everyone! In order to provide electricity to our entire community, we need YOUR help! We need to raise funds for our solar electricity project to help build the first sustainable garbage village in the world!

Here's how you can help:

1) Spread the word to everyone you know - you can invite everyone to view our video here: [jwplayer mediaid="82"]

2) Donate today by making a check out to "A Remnant Remains" and emailing info@remnantremains.org for details on where to mail the check to. We are enabling an online donation mechanism soon! Please check back next week to donate by credit card online.

3) Sponsor ARR speaking engagement/event - if you want to learn more, see a powerful presentation on the needs of our community, email us at info@remnantremains.org and we will arrange all the details!

Thank you everyone!!! Together, we can rebuild Egypt, one community at a time!


The Remnant

Remnant Poetry: Keep me close to your heart, My Country, My Love

Why am I always scared walking down your lane?Why do my lips shiver & my heart is full of pain?

Though you are harsh on me, your heart can still embrace and even if I desert you, I long to see your lovely face

Open your arms & hold me close In your arms let me peacefully rest

In your heart keep me

With your eyelids warm me From the fruit of your land feed me

Let your Nile water me

Keep me close to your heart, my love