Acting in Partnership: A Path to a Global Responsibility

On April 27, the SEKEM Day 2019 took place in Stuttgart, this time on the topic of partnerships and global responsibility. The SEKEM Day is organized every year by the German SEKEM Friends Association and brings together SEKEM Friends from all over Germany and Europe. With an additional contribution by Dr. Hermann Becke, Chairman of the Board of the SEKEM Friends Austria.

“Without partnerships that SEKEM developed and pursued in its core activity fields, in ecology, economy, social and cultural life, right from the beginning, the SEKEM Vision would never have become reality”, said SEKEM CEO Helmy Abouleish in his talk on the day’s topic. He briefly portrayed the common path of the past 42 years and then presented the SEKEM Vision 2057 into detail. By showing a number of concrete projects that are already implemented to promote each of these “crazy-sounding goals,” as Abouleish said, he proved that the 18 vision goals are not only big promises but starting to become realities as well.

Together we get far

Board members of the SEKEM Friends Germany: Dr. Roland Schaette, Waltraud Bandel and Magdy Abdallah.

One of these SEKEM Vision Goals in the field of ecology is for instance to stop producing waste by 2057, but instead reuse everything in the sense of a circular economy. How this can be achieved even in a country like Egypt, where plastic garbage in particular seems infinite, was demonstrated by the former SEKEM trainees Florian Mende and Lilli Pohl. Together, they initiated the “Precious Plastic” project in SEKEM and have already implemented various concrete options for plastic recycling within a very short time. Vividly and authentically, the two students presented how they worked to increase awareness about waste in all SEKEM institutions – “there are now even employees who bring their plastic waste form theirs homes to the SEKEM Farm where it is getting recycled,” says Florian Mende.

Florian Mende presenting the “Precious Plastic” project.

Other contributions that all represented partnerships in wonderful different ways, came from Wilfried Ulrich, who regularly supports the SEKEM Metal Workshop, and from students from the Stuttgart Waldorf Teacher Seminar, who visited SEKEM’s educational institutions in 2018 and support an intercultural exchange involving the SEKEM impulse.

“We are very happy that this year our friends from the Netherlands and Austria, the board members of the local SEKEM Friends Associations, Dr. Hermann Becke and Bert de Graaff, join us here in Stuttgart and thus show once again how important these different forms of partnership action are for a global responsibility,” said Dr. Roland Schaette, Chairman of the Board of the SEKEM Friends Germany. He also emphasized on the enormous commitment of his board members and the advisory board that organized a very successful SEKEM Day 2019 despite some challenges in advance to the event. Especially, Waltraud Bandel, who has been “the heart of the German SEKEM Association for many years and who works with tireless commitment for a global responsibility,” was addressed. Waltraud Bandel also organized the panel discussion that concluded the SEKEM Day 2019.

Christine Arlt

Helmy Abouleish together with the Chairmen of the Board of the SEKEM Friends Associations Bert de Graaff (Netherlands), Dr. Roland Schaette (Germany) and Dr. Hermann Becke (Austria).

An additional contribution by Dr. Hermann Becke on the panel discussion “Acting in Partnership”:

In line with the motto “Acting in Partnership” I am happy to contribute my view to the panel discussion. The different personalities who had been gathered at a table for a joint discussion at the SEKEM Day were cleverly chosen: Under the expert guidance of Dr. Martin Kilgus (SEKEM Foundation Stuttgart) the following participants discussed with Helmy Abouleish: Dr. Manal El-Shahat from the University of Stuttgart, who makes excursions to Egypt with her students, Margarete Leber, lecturer at the Free University of Stuttgart, who prepares her students for stays abroad, Dr. Frederic Stephan, a representative of the city of Stuttgart, who is responsible for external relations  and Florian Mende, a former SEKEM trainee, who personally experienced the working methods at SEKEM. All reported on their professional experiences and agreed that an African proverb summarizes the importance of partnerships very well: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Or as Helmy Abouleish phrases it: “A partnership is about changing myself and not changing others.” And when someone from the audience asked how SEKEM handles failures or disappointments in partnerships, Helmy Abouleish said, “failures do not exist – mistakes are always catalysts for new learning.”

Dr. Manal El-Shahat from the University of Stuttgart, Dr. Frederic Stephan, a representative of the city of Stuttgart, Helmy Abouleish, CEO SEKEM, Florian Mende, a former SEKEM trainee and Margarete Leber, lecturer at the Free University of Stuttgart, during the panel discussion (from right).

And the central theme of partnerships was also wonderfully shown an evening before the SEKEM Day, when the European SEKEM Friends had come together for intensive discussions about large joint projects in favor of SEKEM which can only be managed in a spirit of partnership – in line with what belongs to the self-image of SEKEM and the European associations and what is written on SEKEM’s Website “Business is impossible without partners!” And further: “the SEKEM Friends build bridges between Europe and the Egyptian initiative and promote the SEKEM vision.”

The SEKEM Day in Germany has helped us to continue working successfully on this task.

Dr. Hermann Becke, Chairman of the Board of the SEKEM Friends Austria

Passing on the Light: SEKEM Day 2018
SEKEM Friends Germany at Sister City Event in Stuttgart
SEKEM Friends Germany
SEKEM Friends Austria