Istabl Antar is a densely populated slum district in Old Cairo. The residents of Istabl Antar live in extreme poverty, and face a multitude of health, housing and social problems. Many homes are built from wooden boards and mud bricks, consist of a single room, and have no running water. There are few streets—houses are reached along narrow walkways—and no formal system of garbage or sewage removal.
But in the heart of Istabl Antar, a school set up by the Tawasol Association—an NGO Established in 2008—is transforming lives. The Tawasol School addresses the issue that although a good education provides a prime escape from poverty, few parents can afford to send their children to school, as they need them to work and earn money. Tawasol gives children the opportunity—in addition to a basic education—to learn a skill, such as carpet-weaving, carpentry or embroidery, for which they are paid a weekly allowance. The school also provides facilities for good nutrition and hygiene, a library and a computer lab. Student fees and expenses are funded by donation. In addition to its activities at the school, the Tawasol Association runs adult education classes, and is involved in a number of practical projects around Istabl Antar, such as implementing hygienic sewage removal.