In the morning we were able to visit the last part of the SEKEM education supply chain, the Heliopolis University. While in the afternoon, we were able to attend SEKEM’s 39th anniversary held in the SEKEM amphitheatre.
The Heliopolis University
The Heliopolis University is home to over 1,000 students and is arguably unlike any university in the world. The variety of courses available to the students once again reflected SEKEM’s mission of providing the youth with tools to deliver sustainable development for the future. After choosing an “academic” component from either business, engineering or pharmacy, the students then choose between a number of “focus” components; such as languages, arts, social sciences and community and nature. When combined, these subjects instil in the students an inner belief that they can make an impact and solve problems in society.
The university also contains one of the largest botanical gardens in the world, and is the main source of natural medicine for SEKEM’s Atos, which we visited on Tuesday! One particularly impressive engineering project we came across was a greenhouse that was used to connect food, energy and water. Using PV panels for energy and light, along with de-sanitised water that comes from barrels containing fish to provide critical nutrients to the plants, the plants were able to grow on water alone, completely separate from soil. The excess energy produced from these panels is then fed into a grid and used to support the neighbouring area. We were left immensely impressed that the university combines its teachings so that students not only develop their individual skills, but also become part of a collective awareness for moving towards a sustainable future.
39th SEKEM Anniversary
In the afternoon we were invited to SEKEM’s 39th anniversary. Just as is done at the start of each day, we joined in a group circle. This time, however, the circle contained close to a thousand people! At the festival, we enjoyed a whole host of music, plays and a poem pertaining to the importance of protecting the earth. Despite not being able to understand a fair amount of what was happening on stage (the vast majority was in Egyptian), the sheer satisfaction from the audience and the collective participation was really picked up by all of us from the Oikocredit team. SEKEM truly has a unique way of pulling all its varying parts into one overall body.
Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish
At the very end of another fascinating day, the Oikocredit group was given a special welcome into Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish’s house. There we were able to have an exclusive Q & A with the man behind the SEKEM vision. The man who made it all possible!
This is the fifth in a series of blogs covering a partner visit to SEKEM in Egypt. Partner visits provide people within the Oikocredit network the opportunity to visit and learn more about one of our partners across the globe. Those participating in the visit will keep you updated on their findings through this blog.