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.
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.
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!