Breathe Free: A Crowdfunding Project for the Future of Cairo, Egypt

Submitted by Mohamed Yousry, edited by Nalat Phanit-Black on November 14, 2014

“To solve the climate crisis, we have to solve the democracy crisis.” – Al Gore

One of the main reasons we took part in the Egyptian revolution is because pollution in our city, Cairo, surpassed safety limits in air quality, affecting our health and stunting our growth as individuals and as a nation. With climate change projected to exacerbate air pollution issues, we have to take action.

According to the World Health Organization:

  • Cairo is the most polluted country in Africa and one of the most polluted in the world.
  • Cairo’s air quality is above the safe limits by 10 – 100 times. The biggest contributor to this is the burning of garbage and not implementing recycling behaviors and programs.
  • Breathing air in Cairo for one day = smoking 20 cigarettes

My teammates and I are Egyptian engineers with a dream to improve Cairo’s air quality by addressing the city’s biggest sanitation issue: trash burning. If you breathe Cairo’s air for one day, it is as if you have smoked 20 cigarettes. Yes, our air quality is really bad.

We realize that our future changes every minute. When we persistently devote our hearts and dreams to a humane cause, the future will be bright. However, the geopolitical borders created by previous generations divided humanity into many nations, widening differences, straining relationships. The climate crisis reminds us that we are one, we share the same planet, we are human beings, and we all take part in defining what humanity is.

Our lives are not our own, as we have thought. Each human being is connected to one another on various levels, from breathing the same air to fighting for the same cause. It is unfathomable how much effort, time, and energy are spent on wars and countries expanding their borders. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and each kindness, we give birth to our future.

“We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it,” said Governor Jay Inslee of Washington. There are seven million people dying annually because of air pollution, most of them are in developing countries. The uncontrollable pollution in Cairo comes from developed countries that have injected greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The controllable portion of Cairo’s pollution is caused by burning of trash in open spaces and the absence of recycling programs. Cairo’s sanitation is lacking. We’re going to change that.

Life is hard. No one has the choice in what the results of the future are going to be, but we still have the choice to keep the strongest weapon humanity ever had: hope. Life will go on, no matter what happens. We have a choice to live with hope or despair, and we choose hope. We dream to end this disaster and we choose to be a step in ending it. Whatever obstacles we meet, I believe we can achieve our dream in cleaning Cairo’s air.

My teammates and I need your help in starting the clean-up efforts in Cairo. We have until December 19th to fundraise for this project in order to get necessary equipments and safety gear to gather trash. We will collect garbage and recycle whatever we can to prevent people from burning trash. We will make before and after videos to inspire people to follow our footsteps to save their lives and have a brighter future.

With your donations we will be able to get a plastic recycling machine to start a youth environmental movement in Cairo with sanitation and air quality as the main objectives. With donations from all over the world, we have reached 10 percent of our goal.

Please consider donating to our campaign:


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