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NYers Of The Week: Suzan And Nimet Habachy Help People In Cairo Through NYC Market

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This week's New Yorkers are two sisters who have spent two decades helping a sister city through a special market in New York. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.

Suzan and Nimet Habachy have lived in New York City for decades, but the sisters are originally from a different big city: Cairo.

For the past 20 years, they've created a marketplace, a link between those in need in Egypt and those here who want to help.

"Our American friends have been so generous," Suzan Habachy says. "We've been able to send all sorts of monies back that keep schools open."

Those schools teach women and children known as the Zabbaleen, people in Cairo who sort through garbage to survive.

Using discarded cloth and paper, the Zabbaleen make quilts, rugs, stationary and more. The sisters import the goods and sell them, donating their time and all the proceeds.

"This is something you're never going to find anywhere again, and you're never going to find two pieces the same either," Nimet Habachy says.

Each year before Christmas, the sisters create a market for the crafts at the Calvary St. George Church in Gramercy with a lot of help from a dedicated group of friends and volunteers.

"Thanks to their energy and to their charisma, they've managed to bring about and bring together a lot of the community in New York that are now devoted to the same project," says Helene Awad, a volunteer at the market.

Jacquelyn Sapiie got involved after visiting Cairo in 2009. Since then, she's helped organize a spring sale of the crafts at her church, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in Midtown.

"We had to do more than just talk about it and buy a few souvenirs and tell people about it," Sapiie says. "But let's really be proactive."

The Habachy sisters say the proceeds are critical for the community in Cairo.

"It's a worrying time," Suzan Habachy says. "It's a transition time in Egypt."

"They need education, they need a livelihood, they need literacy, and we do the best we know how," Nimet Habachy says. "And I wish I knew how we could do more."

So, for creating a community here to help another half a world away, Nimet and Suzan Habachy are our New Yorkers of the Week.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

The Christmas market is open from December 11 through December 14 at Calvary-St. George Church, located at 61 Gramercy Park North in Manhattan. For more information, call (646) 723-4183.

The spring market is open during the first week of May at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, located at 7 West 55th Street in Manhattan. For more information, call (212) 247-0490.

Nominate a New Yorker

If you'd like to nominate someone to be NY1's New Yorker of the Week, send an email describing their qualifications to nyer@ny1.com or mail a letter to:

NY1 News
New Yorker of the Week
75 Ninth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011

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