Fatma’s constant smile is the first thing you will notice about her – and you will immediately be taken by it just like everybody else around her. Abundant friendliness is in her nature, no matter if you are an old friend or a new acquaintance. Even if you have just met her, she gives you the feeling that you have known her for a long time. It is difficult to imagine that behind all this positivity lays a story of hardship and constant struggle.
Family is everything
Fatma Ashour grew up in a humble Egyptian home. Her mother was originally from Aswan and her father from Sohag. They moved and settled in Cairo, where Fatma, her brother Ahmed, and her sister Iman grew up. Being the eldest of three, she grew up with a sense of duty and responsibility. At the age of 16, Fatma chose to work in order to help to support her family. Fatma was the main provider for her family, and with her relentless work she helped her brother and sister continue their education and later get married. Now, Ahmed is father to two and Iman mother to a beautiful one year old girl. Through this time, Fatma’s family has been her main priority, and now finally she can start to pursue her own dreams and self development.
Happiness at work
Aged 16, Fatma had her first job as a cleaner in a pharmaceutical company before she joined SEKEM. She appreciated how arts and culture are integrated in the workplace at SEKEM, and how the cleaners were treated with the similar respect as the top managers. But there was one thing she remained curious about and that she could not understand: the morning circle. One day she asked Ibrahim Abouleish himself and his words still linger on today. “I had asked several of my colleagues and managers about the meaning and reason behind the morning circle but it was Dr. Ibrahim’s answer that made me understand. He told me that with each one of us standing next to the other holding hands, we complete and support each other”, she recalls. Today she knows: “It’s also important that we’d all be reminded that each one of us is important for the success of the community.”
When Fatma joined the SEKEM team, she was only 18 years old. “From the first day and especially my first encounter with Ibrahim Abouleish, I was treated with the utmost respect,” the cheerful Fatma tells. “I instantly warmed up to Dr. Ibrahim. He felt like a father to me, especially when my father passed away years later. He had a great deal of respect, humility, and kindness despite his high position,” she recalls.
Fatma worked as a hygienic services agent in several of SEKEM’s companies. Recently, she has been promoted to work at the labs at Heliopolis University.
A future full of possibilities
As one of SEKEM’s loyal employees, Fatma enjoys the Core Program and Space of Culture activities, especially Eurythmy. It gives her a chance to unwind and experience happiness at work. Through the cultural activities, Fatma believes more in her capabilities and is eager to take on new challenges. The 36-year-old wants to pursue her basic education and get her high school certificate, and perhaps even vocational training. Newly engaged Fatma is full of enthusiasm for the future and all the possibilities it holds.
Meet Wedad Abdel Zaher
People in SEKEM: Ahmed Saeed