People in SEKEM: El-Shahat Sahri Hassan Ismail

“Organic agriculture on SEKEM Wahat Farm is a challenge that brings me happiness and hope!”

El-Shahat Sahri is a self-made 47 year old farmer. He is a dedicated man who loves nature and beauty, and who is loved by his colleagues. Born in 1973 in Minya Governorate, El Shahat has been a farmer his entire life. He joined SEKEM ten years ago, during which he witnessed the desert turning from a golden sands into a green paradise. He says: “I never expected to farm in the desert, after I worked for years in small vegetable farms.” He adds: “In 2010, the SEKEM Wahat farm was a desert bordered by a fence of small Casuarina trees. Now it’s getting greener and greener from one day to the other. I felt that Organic agriculture in the desert is a challenge; but it also brings me happiness and hope.”

El-Shahat worked as a farmer in other Arab countries for years, then decided to return to Egypt to settle with his family. He heard about SEKEM Wahat and met Ibrahim Abouleish. The SEKEM founder explained to him the meaning behind the name “SEKEM” , which is a hieroglyphic word implying vitality. This feature is intertwined with SEKEM’s vision, for instance when growing medicinal herbs for the production of curative medicine. The committed farmer became impressed by growing medical herbs without chemicals or pesticides on desert soils.

“A seed is like a child and needs to be nurtured in order to grow and bear fruit,” said El-Shahat Sahri, who is working for ten years on the SEKEM farm in the Western Desert in the Bahariya Oasis.

Gaining hope from the harshest of places

During his arduous struggle journey in the Wahat desert farm, El-Shahat learned patience and perseverance. “Seeing this place turn from dead desert to a dream oasis gave me hope and confidence in God. I have deep faith now in man’s ability to change and create a better life.” El-Shahat hopes that the Wahat farm will be home to a school, a hospital, and other integrated services in the future so that the sustainable community that he dreams of for his family can be realized. He wishfully adds: “I dream of the day when I bring my family to Wahat to live with me and share this vision.”

The hardworking farmer is father to six daughters, whom he calls every day, as he only gets to see them on his monthly vacation. “Despite the distance, I feel the presence of my family with me at every moment. They are my motivation in life. They encourage me for example to live a healthy life through diet and exercise every day”, he reveals.  

Marwa Tohami

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