The first Oikocredit partner visit to SEKEM is taking place from Sunday 30 October to Sunday 6 November. A group of nine people, who are all involved with Oikocredit in different ways, will keep you updated of their findings through this blog.
SEKEM is a sustainable social initiative established in Egypt in 1977. It was started as a farm operation by Dr Ibrahim Abouleish, converting desert land north east of Cairo into fertile land. Since then, SEKEM has grown into two branches: the SEKEM Holding, which produces agricultural products, natural pharmaceuticals, organic textiles and herbal medicines, which are certified Fairtrade, Organic and Biodynamic; and the SEKEM Development Foundation, which among others runs a school for children with special needs, a vocational training centre and a medical centre. Oikocredit has financed SEKEM through both credit and equity since 2012.
Sunday 30 October
After a pleasant flight, Malu Padilla (fellow staff champion for OI) and I arrived in Cairo, where we were joined by Wilfried Steen (board member of SA Lower Saxony-Bremen) and José Augusto Cordón (country manager for Guatemala). Stepping out of the airport, we had our first impressions of Egypt: the warm desert air, the unfamiliar smells, chaotic traffic and Arabic street signs. A different world! We drove out of the city, through the desert, but much of Egypt was still covered by the darkness of the night, until we took an exit and were suddenly surrounded by trees on each side of the road. We can't be far from SEKEM now, I thought. And indeed, a few minutes later we entered SEKEM’s main building, where we were warmly welcomed by our hosts: Thomas Abouleish, Christine Arlt and Rene Floride. We entered the comfortable SEKEM guesthouse where we were served a delicious meal. Christine and Rene joined us, so we had our first opportunity to ask questions.
Tomorrow the programme starts, and we will meet the other tour participants and visit the different SEKEM schools and the medical center.
Nice to hear Edwin, please tell us more the coming days! have a good trip!