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Permaculture Learning Center
Permaculture Learning Center
Last updated:
Waset, nuweiba, sinai, EG
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Permaculture Learning Center

Project Type

Rural, Intentional Communities, Demonstration, Educational

Project Summary

The Project is placed in Nuweiba, Sinai, Nuweiba Nuweiba was once a popular tourist destination. Tucked between the red mountains of Egypt's Sinai and the azure waters of the Red Sea, its beach camps and hotels were packed with foreigners. Today, it is all but empty. A decade of instability in Sinai has frightened the tourists away. First, bombs in Sharm el-Sheikh, Nuweiba and Taba. Then the Egyptian revolution, and then attacks on tourists and police by militant groups in its aftermath. While the Egyptian government have taken measures to protect the lucrative tourist industry in Sharm by creating a militarised "safe zone" around it, resorts such as Dahab and Nuweiba have been left out in the cold. The effects on the local economy have been devastating, and especially so for the local Bedouin, who were marginalised by Cairo in favour of big business during the boom years, and now face a future without the passing tourist trade, service jobs and supporting industries. Wilayah Sinai: a growing threat in Egypt's Sinai To make matters worse, climate change threatens to make traditional herding and planting more difficult in the already arid Sinai. What groundwater exists is rapidly turning saline. The future does not look bright for the locals. Maged al-Said decided to address these problems by setting up Habiba community, a project launched in 2007 to pioneer organic farming in Sinai's difficult environment, and to share the techniques with locals. It now employs one farm manager and several workers on a seasonal basis, and runs volunteer programmes. It was a departure for the Egyptian entrepreneur, who first founded a beach lodge in Nuweiba 20 years ago. Growth through learning But Habiba community is not just about farming. It also run a learning centre for local children and a women's handicraft business, set up by Lorena al-Said, Maged's wife who has extensive teaching experience. Habiba Learning Centre is open for five days a week and runs free classes in art, music, English and Arabic for local children aged five to 12. "It's not just about knowledge of language or art," says Lorena. "I want to teach the children to be proud - to be ambitious. "When I asked them 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' they used to tell me a guide, a cook, or a farmer. I asked them 'why don't you think to help your community – to be lawyers and doctors and teachers?' Better service to the community always comes from within." As a marginalised group, Sinai's Bedouin struggle with poor access to education and health services, and have been the losers in many legal struggles over land and resources. "I want to equip them for life. Things are changing. Everyone has a computer now – they should learn to use them too. And perhaps it's a dream, but in the end I hope the learning centre will be something they run themselves. "They are special children – so full of energy and intelligence. There is no reason why they can't achieve these things if they believe they can." Habiba's learning centre started in a spare room in the farm's building, but has since been expanded. Foundations for a better future When al-Araby visited Habiba in January, a crew of young Italian environmental engineers called Econtact were in the middle of working on improvements. One of the group, Paulo Rosazza, had volunteered at Habiba farm for a month in the summer of 2014, and, inspired by the commitment and vision of the Saids, he returned to Italy and enlisted the others in the group to start fundraising and honing their skills so that they could return and build a new learning centre out of natural materials. The new Habiba learning centre is built from straw bales, plaster and salvaged windows and doors, showcasing techniques for building on a budget with materials easily obtainable in Sinai. "We were a little bit afraid to come in the beginning because of the impression you get from television," says Marta Domini, an environmental engineer. "We didn't get the number of participants that we hoped for the workshop because people were afraid. But now we have seen how kind the people are here, I would recommend anyone to come." Learning Center The idea behind the Center is to provide a safe space for knowledge sharing for children and for adult. Children with a place in which they can be free to interact with one another and express and persue their interests. We are convinced that it is important for children to have a positive and practical environment in which they can explore the world, learn and develop their skills. It is everybody's responsibility to create this enviroment for them. We are keen on teaching how to manage resources efficiently and how to reduce waste. It is essential for children to understand that the world they live in is not only for them but for the generations to come as well. We hope that this vision and goals will be an inspiration to Nuweiba and to the rest of the world The main Scope is to help ameliorate the growing food and water crisis. Objectives The objectives are: 1. To support environment to allow growing food security and water capacity. 2. To help ameliorate the misemployment percentage. 3. The aim is to establish self-replicating educational demonstration sites and educate as more students as possible in permaculture worldwide Actions The actions are the following:: 1. Food and water a. resilient pattern of food production b. improve water management, c. slow down salination with salt fixing plants, d. take care of leaking and water loss, e. improve the production and improve the connection with Habiba Lodge consumption in order to get some more money to invest on the habiba farm. 2. Misemployment a. education and professional courses 3. Build an Educational Demonstration site for a. primary education support b. Workshops about ecology, permaculture and traditional knowledges d. International network

Project Description



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