At first sight, with the women of Al-Hassanein Village washing their clothes and cookware on the banks of the Nile, the casual visitor might think he or she was witnessing a scene from the middle ages.
The unpaved streets of the village, which belongs to the 6 October Province southwest of Cairo, are submerged in raw sewage. "I fear my children will catch all sorts of disease from the filth that surrounds us," says local resident Mona Abdallah. "Even the tap water is brownish in color."
Um Muhammad sells vegetables on the street. "People are afraid to buy my produce," she says. "But where else can I go?"
Another local resident, Muhammad Mustafa, complains bitterly about the lack of public transportation. "There’s no way to get here. You have to take the train to the nearest station then walk a considerable distance to get to the village," he says. "Government officials don’t seem to care about us — even though we’re a village of some 14,000 inhabitants."
The lack of public health services represents yet another major grievance for locals. "There’s only one general practitioner at the village’s public health facility," says Mahmoud Hassan. "If we need more advanced medical treatment, we have to take the train to a hospital in a nearby village."
Eleven-year-old Ali, for his part, complains about the lack of a football field in the Al-Hassanein public youth center. "The old field was converted into a cattle market," he recalls sadly.
Most depressingly, the entire village is surrounded by towering piles of garbage, which the relevant authorities have not yet bothered to remove.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.