Gehad Abaza


/ Life in the Garden across from Egypt's UNHCR

Life in the Garden across from Egypt's UNHCR

In 6th of October City’s Hay al-Sabea (7th district) neighborhood, where a number of Iraqi and Syrian restaurants and markets have flourished, one can also find the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees building. Dozens of people wait in line for hours outside its gates on weekday mornings.

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Sa’eeda maintains a very busy working schedule. On a regular day, she can spend her morning at the UNHCR in 6th of October City. By the afternoon, she goes back home, prepares food for her children on a makeshift stove, and then begins making her way to A
In Al-Hussein, Sa’eeda walks through the cafés looking for customers. If she works on a customer in a café, she has to share the payment with the owners of the shop. Tens of other Sudanese women also walk Al-Hussein with their henna. On some days, police
Many of the residents in the buildings surrounding the UN and the garden are annoyed by the refugees' presence there, to the point where they often harass, hurt, and report them hoping they will leave.
Nawal, Sara, and Mona, all of whom had spent some time living in the garden, sit together after folding up some laundry. Conversations often revolved around the UN paperwork, food, gossip, and work experiences.
Sa’eeda washes some dishes in the buckets of water that have been collected and placed in the garden. She later put some yogurt in the plate for the children to eat with bread.
Sa'eeda struggles to feed her five children with the 50-100 EGP that she makes per day.
Sa’eeda, Sara, and Nawal’s children spent most of their time playing together when they were all still in the garden. Sa’eeda usually had to leave her children in the garden when she went off for work in Al-Hussein. In this photo, Sa’eeda’s kids were pla
Sa’eeda and Nawal’s fingertips are always visibly decorated with henna. “People just look at my hands and they know I’m a hannana (henna artist),” Nawal says. Sa’eeda also almost always carries a binder full of henna drawings and designs in order to have
Sa’eeda almost always carries a binder full of henna drawings and designs in order to have it available to show to customers.
When living in the garden, people did not have regular access to clean water. They often had to fill up bottles from the sprinklers of the garden
The refugees living in the garden had to walk to a construction site behind the UNHCR headquarters in order to go to the bathroom.
Nawal, who is also a single mother to two children and is one of Sa’eeda’s friends, still has to spend a lot of time waiting to make appointments with the UNHCR employees. Many of the refugees who live far, in Madinet Nasr or Maadi, find it better to spen
Sa’eeda fixes her daughter Ekram’s hair before going off to work.
Makboola, one of Sa’eeda five children, goes downstairs to run a few errands and buy things from the market for her siblings.
Amoona, 11, is the oldest of Sa’eeda’s children. When her mother is away, Amoona is in charge of taking care of her siblings.
After being forced out of the garden, many of the men moved to an empty desert space nearby, behind the UNHCR. They complained that it was even more uncomfortable and cold than the garden had been. While the women worked at Al-Hussein, or sometimes as dom