Garbage Dreams

Expand/Collapse Garbage Dreams


On the outskirts of Cairo lies the world's largest garbage village. A labyrinth of narrow roadways camouflaged by trash, the village is home to 60,000 Zaballeen — Arabic for "garbage people." The Zaballeen have survived for centuries by recycling Cairo's waste. Members of Egypt's minority Coptic Christian community, these entrepreneurial garbage workers recycle nearly all the trash they collect, maintaining what could be the world’s most efficient waste disposal system. Filmed over four years, "Garbage Dreams" follows three teenage boys born into the Zaballeen's trash trade: 17-year-old Adham, 16-year-old Osama, and 18-year-old Nabil. Laila, a community activist who also teaches the boys at their neighborhood Recycling School, guides the boys as they transition into adulthood at a time when the Zaballeen community is at a crossroads.

This collection contains lesson plans and activities to span one week or more of work, including playing the game and watching the film. This lesson plan packet contains three lesson plans. Lesson Plan One supports the viewing of the film. Lesson Plan Two supports playing the online game. Lesson Plan Three involves themes and ideas that are touched upon by the film. Please note that you don’t have to watch the film or play the game to learn about these topics, however students will benefit from a rich multimedia experience.

  • Introduction | Garbage Dreams

    Three teenage boys born into Cairo's recycling trade help recycle more than twice as much as we do in the United States. Watch the trailer for the documentary film Garbage Dreams

    Grades: 9-12
  • Recycling: Garbage Dreams | Interactive Recycling Game

    In this game take on the role of the Zaballeen, the garbage people, who have survived for centuries by recycling nearly 80 percent of Cairo's waste. Could you build a recycling business as efficient as theirs? Start with one neighborhood, one factory, and one hungry goat. You have 8 months to build your recycling empire and get Cairo’s total recycling as high as you can.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Recycling: Lesson Plans | Garbage Dreams

    This packet contains three lesson plans. Lesson one supports the viewing of the film Garbage Dreams. Lesson two supports playing the online game. Lesson three involves themes and ideas that are touched on by the film. Please note that you don't have to watch the film or play the game to learn about these topics, however students will benefit from a rich multimedia experience.

    Grades: 7-12

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