Gates Foundation Gives $1 Million Award to Cairo's Garbage Pickers

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Last year, I interviewed documentary filmmaker Mai Iskander, who had just completed a film about the Zaballeen, an ostracized community in Cairo that has been eking out a living by gathering the city's waste. Called Garbage Dreams, the film followed a group of teenagers and examined how their rudimentary methods of trash gathering yield a much higher recycling rate than the more sophisticated ones implemented in the West. The film went on to premiere at numerous film festivals and also won the Al Gore REEL Current Award.

Today, we received an email from Iskander with some great news: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the Spirit of Youth Association (the non-governmental organization profiled in Garbage Dreams) a $1 million grant.