Sustainability Report 2017 – Cultural Life
“The people with many years of professional experience and their material contributions made a big difference here – a living example for how cultures can enrich each other.”
Supporting the potential and consciousness development of each individual in the community lies at SEKEM’s core. 2017 had been a year that was strongly determined by building new bases for human and cultural development for the future.
40 Years of Human Development
Celebrations had been an important part of SEKEM’s Cultural Life in 2017. No surprise, as SEKEM had many occasions to celebrate. In March, SEKEM community commemorated the 80th birthday of its founder Ibrahim Abouleish. 1.700 SEKEM employees as well as SEKEM friends from near and far did not want to miss personally sending their heart-warming congratulations to Ibrahim Abouleish. They enjoyed a wonderful day on the blooming and festive SEKEM Farm. On that occasion, a comprehensive performance had been presented to the SEKEM founder on stage: Qasida SEKEM (The SEKEM Story) reflected SEKEMs development in motion pictures, eurythmy, language and music. It showed by the participation of almost every of SEKEM’s cultural institutions (Kindergarten, School, students etc.) how the desert became a fertile land where people learn, work and form a social community – how it became a place where each individual can develop and act artistically.
“We are celebrating SEKEMs 40th Anniversary in memory and with feelings of gratitude to the founder Ibrahim Abouleish. He was not only a father to me but to many other people as well. With his spiritual support, we will further develop SEKEM in the coming years.”
Later on, in November, SEKEM had been celebrating again, this time the 40th anniversary of the Initiative. After Ibrahim Abouleish had passed away in June, this event was of course coloured by different feelings: grief on missing him and in the same time joy and gratitude for all he had done for the community. However, by taking a look into the future and trying to continuing and fulfilling what Ibrahim Abouleish had started 40 years ago, SEKEM community spent that day with confidence and the common belief in carrying the SEKEM vision into the future.
Meaningful Support by the International SEKEM Friends Associations
Also the annual SEKEM Day in Stuttgart which is organized and sponsored by the SEKEM Friends Association in Germany was strongly influenced by the two great anniversaries of this year: 40 years of SEKEM and the 80th birthday of Ibrahim Abouleish. The celebration was visited by several regional representatives, among others Werner Wölfle, mayor of the city Stuttgart or the State Secretary Klaus-Peter Murawski.
In June 2017, right after the death of Ibrahim Abouleish, the committed German friends held a commemoration for Ibrahim Abouleish in Niefern-Öschelbronn. The long-standing SEKEM companion Dr. Hans Werner brought back his many memories that he experienced with his close friend Ibrahim Abouleish.
Besides, the SEKEM Friends Germany showed great support for example by the transport of two big machines for SEKEM’s metal workshop or by the school partnership with the Silberwaldschule Stuttgart.
“Due to migration and refugees movements, we are living in times where there is much talk about how we can tackle these present issues. But one only needs to take a look at SEKEM”
Gilbert Prilasnig, Former Austrian Football Player
Likewise, the SEKEM Friends Association in Austria has been playing a crucial role in supporting SEKEMs cultural life for many years. 2017 began with hosting a charity football match of a total of five intercultural teams in Graz. All the proceeds of the match were donated to SEKEMs sporting activities, in which boys and girls are equally engaged. Helmy Abouleish participated in the VIP- team next to the former defender Gilber Prilasnig and pupils from SEKEM Austria’s international refugee class. The Friends Association is strongly committed to supporting refugees in Austria by organizing international classes that integrate the ideas of the SEKEM vision.
Carrying the SEKEM Impulse Into the World
Furthermore, SEKEM Austria initiated a the visit of the Studio Choir of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz to SEKEM that was moving across the SEKEM farm presenting their music in all companies and institutions to the employees. And another great project has been achieved by SEKEM Austria for further developing the university education: Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development signed a formal agreement with the University of Music and Performing Arts, Kunstuniversität Graz in Austria that aims to foster joint activities that promote research, science and the inclusion of arts.
Active and mental support for SEKEM’s cultural development came as well from the SEKEM Friends in the Netherlands. In 2017, they invited Helmy Abouleish for a comprehensive trip through their country, presenting SEKEM at various cultural events and sharing experiences in many different ways. In Midden-Delfland, Hollands “green desert”, he met his friends from the Durch organic and biodynamic sector for an event on the meaning of greening and reclaiming lands under different conditions. In Holland’s forest, Helmy Abouleish spoke to the youth about inspiration and holistic education and in the capital, in Amsterdam, SEKEM’s CEO discussed with international experts about sustainability in all it’s dimensions.
“With the new curricula a new generation of Biodynamic farmers and nature lovers will be educated in Egypt.”
Angela Hofmann, agricultural coordinator at SEKEM
The Dutch SEKEM Friends did also great effort in 2017 on the practical side. They integrated a new curricula for biodynamic agriculture in SEKEM’s Vocational Training Center (VTC) and sent two ambitious people to SEKEM, Jan Vermeulen and Ann Lust, who supported with their experience the child care, VTC and even shared their knowledge on effective micro-organisms (EM), as sustainable and eco-friendly cleaning methods.
First Graduation at Heliopolis University
2017 had been a truly wonderful year for Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development. In summer, the first students presented their graduation works on innovative projects and constructions all invented for the purpose of sustainability.
“Serving the needs of the community in accordance with ecological ethics has been always the core message at the university.”
Yassine Al-Sherif, graduated student from the Energy Department of Heliopolis University.
Later in October, 104 students from the three faculties pharmacy, business and engineering celebrated their graduation together with prominent figures from the Egyptian education sector in the new premises at the campus: the Space of Culture.
“SEKEM is implementing innovative projects solving environmental issues sustainably, which is putting us, even as teachers, in a situation of continuous researching and learning to promote it, in order to serve the community.”
Space of Culture
The Space of Culture is one main project realized in 2017 by SEKEM, Heliopolis University and the German partner company “Lebensbaum Foundation”. It had been a long wish of Ibrahim Abouleish to establish a space in which different kinds of art from different cultures come together and enrich the region with their variety. Shortly after his death, SEKEM community decided to start realizing such a place. Hence, a roman theater had been built at the HU campus and in September the first musical performance took place. Since that date, there had been events on regular basis, at least once a week: concerts, theater, exhibitions, discussions or lectures with artists from all over the world.
“The polarity between the two fundamentally different cultures began to dissolve within me to the benefit of a new, distinct third quality […] this is certainly no cheap compromise, it is not mere tolerance but a Synthesis.”
HU students, SEKEM staff as well as guest from outside attended the cultural performances. In 2018, the Space of Culture had been developed further and now consists of three different venues: The Ibrahim Abouleish Theater for open-air performances, the Ibn Rushd Hall for exhibitions, lectures and presentations, and the Hoda Shaarawy Theater for theatrical works as plays, poetry salons or musical concerts.
Promoting Health Care
Also in regards to SEKEM’s medical care new activities had been developed within 2017. In cooperation with the SEKEM Medical Center for instance, a Woman’s Healthcare Mobile Unit had been stationed on the SEKEM Farm for several weeks and offered SEKEM’s female employees free mammography screenings.
At the Biomedical Research Department in Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development (HU) a probiotic preparation had been developed in 2017 and will be introduced to the Egyptian pharmaceutical market soon by ATOS Pharma, SEKEMs company for phytopharmaceuticals. The probiotic supplement is made of beneficial bacteria or yeast that can promote a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system and will be introduced to the Egyptian market for the first time.
Sustainable Development in its four dimensions