Culture in the Vast Desert under a Sky Full of Stars

Connecting with nature, starting from scratch, learning from each other – those and similar impressions have been expressed by different SEKEM and Heliopolis University co-workers that recently spent several days on the SEKEM Wahat farm. The “SEKEM Wahat – Greening the Desert” project was initiated in January 2019 on over 2000 feddan (around 900 hectares) of desert land to create a sustainable community that unfolds individual potential, which is governed by a holistic social system and managed by an Economy of Love.

Currently 39 people are living and working on the SEKEM Farm in the Bahareya Oasis, with additional 53 contracted workers. Those people are the real heroes realizing a new miracle in the desert, who work hard in the harsh desert atmosphere: “In the beginning I was shocked – I saw the huge desert land and tried to imagine how much work is needed to make it fertile”, tells Abdelrahman, teacher for kids with special needs at SEKEM school. SEKEM wants to offer those desert heroes opportunities to find their individual talents and at the same time create a space of culture for many different future activities in the desert.

Connecting with nature

Therefore, SEKEM teachers and Heliopolis University’s teaching staff started to regularly spend some time on the fast developing SEKEM Wahat Farm. “Our five days trip was a new experience in many ways”, describes Martina Dinkel, eurythmist at SEKEM. “A challenge which combined the courage to go away from the well known into the unfamiliar and the unfriendly environment of the vast desert, which means to disclaim the usual and abandon habits. And there was the challenge to connect deep to nature through the work on the ground.” The team from Cairo planted trees, collected seeds, and supported the resident workers in their daily field work. Starting right after the morning circle at 6 am was already a challenge for the guests but the strong summer sun does not allow the people to work during midday and afternoon. “Working with the farm people was not easy but made us strong and active. And we started to get a better understanding of each other”, describes Iman, Eurythmy and Sport teacher,  her impressions. “Planting trees was very touching to me. It gave me a feeling of how new life begins”, adds her SEKEM colleague, Abdallah Ezzat.

Team building under a sky full of stars

Later, in the evening the guests and the Wahat co-workers did sport games together for team building and awareness or played music. “Doing eurhythmy exercises at night under the desert stary sky and reciting a poem of the Sahara was temotional to everyone”, tells the Eurythmy teacher, Shaimaa. “The experience of being in Wahat raised my awareness of sustainability, the value of water, electricity, food, time, and normal daily life”, she adds.

Hence, even this initial phase of preparing a comprehensive Core program on the new SEKEM desert farm has proven to be a great experience for both groups. Besides offering cultural activities to the farm community, it is also planned to open a campus for Heliopolis University students on the Wahat farm in order to offer them practical and hands-on experiences for their area of studies in the desert context. Nahla, Eurythmy and Sport teacher explains: “Our goal is not to change others, but I can offer something to people that might cause the will to start a change for the better. I can nourish their minds by providing education and culture, and I believe that this is what they need and miss in the desert most.”

Christine Arlt, Nadine Greiss

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