Walking into the small house with an assortment of furniture accessories ready to be sold, and the scent of pine used during the creation process, it is hard to believe that this is the home and small manufacturing place for a visually impaired couple.
Samir and Heba are a young married couple who decided to start their life together five years ago to support each other in their fight against what they called a society that kills the ambition of those who live with disabilities, such as the visually impaired.
While both had many failed attempts trying to convince others that they can do many types of jobs just like those with full vision, and after Heba got pregnant, they decided to start their own small business from home by creating woven bamboo baskets.
“This industry is old and I learnt it from my ancestors. However, as time passed, I improved some of the used materials while making the baskets to make them stronger and more durable,” Samir said.
Samir taught his wife the craft as well to help him increase his income. “l love helping my husband make these baskets,” Heba said. “Life is so hard and our financial responsibilities increase day by day now, after I was blessed with twins that we have to take care of.”
Both memorised how to create the baskets due to their experience and when it comes to combining matching colours or the needed coloured material, they seek the help of their children or one of their neighbours.
Their small home is in Ezbet KhairAllah, one of the informal settlements in Cairo located near Maadi. Their location is another factor that makes the process of selling their products more difficult. Nonetheless, they are able compete with similar professionally-made products.
“I just dream of having a well-established home that can be transformed later into a workshop to teach others about the industry,” Heba said. “At our small house, we managed to teach a couple of people who wanted to learn the handicraft instead of being unemployment. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a big place to teach people?”
Aside his dream of teaching others, Samir has a dream of create a small city out of bamboo outside of Cairo. “I have the plan and the steps for the process. Even though it would be hard to create it would be amazing,” he said.
The couple is still fighting to gain their most basic rights in Egypt, hoping for a decent place to live and support with equipment that would help increase the number of their products. However, they have yet to receive any response from officials.