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Jirmit Papyrus Group is a registered fair trade organization that aims to generate work for unemployed young people in the Egyptian town of Mallawi. In this regional capital in Upper Egypt, about 300 kilometers south of Cairo, employment opportunities are hard to find. Artisans with this family-owned workshop make hand-painted cards, bookmarks and other art on authentic Egyptian papyrus. Handmade papyrus is an ancient form of paper first known to have been used in Egypt 5,000 years ago.
Emad Ekram Attia started Jirmit Papyrus in 1990, as a way to earn an income while finding a creative outlet for his artistic talents. Papyrus art preserves an Egyptian artistic tradition, while honoring the Coptic Church’s practice of commemorating saints through use of painted icons. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from Jirmit Papyrus Group since 1993 (through MCC Egypt initially, directly since 2003).