To tell the story of Gamal Yassine El-Sayed, one needs to take a closer look at the two key characters of his life: his father Yassine El-Sayed and Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, the founder of SEKEM and his second father figure.
Jimmy, as everyone calls him, used to come to SEKEM since 1990, when he was only 12 years old. His father was an agricultural supervisor in SEKEM, since it all began in 1977; he was one of the first people who helped to bring Ibrahim Abouleish’s dream of creating a green oasis in the middle of the desert to life. Especially, all the beauty that is seen around SEKEM Headquarter and the Heliopolis University campus was planned and planted by Yassine El-Sayed, and it served as a playground to young Gamal.
Growing up in SEKEM
Hence, as a teenage boy he used to spend time with his father in his workplace, enjoying the free open space, witnessing the trees and flowers grow, while he was growing up himself. By the side of his two role models, he was encouraged to learn not only through traditional education but also through experience.
Although he quit after his first year of university, Gamal’s education never stopped, as Ibrahim Abouleish made sure of it himself: “He always offered me different fields to learn through experience and to develop my skills and talents”, Jimmy tells. Hence, he first learned his father’s craft and worked in agriculture for a few years, then he gained a different set of skills while working in carpentry, in warehouse maintenance and finally in the cafeteria. “Dr. Ibrahim always told me he wanted me to know everything about the place and to do everything. He told me that it belonged to me as much as it belonged to him…He always wanted me to feel as if I owned the place in order to make me truly care for it,” says Jimmy.
“SEKEM is my home!”
Gamal doesn’t have extra activities outside work, but he has plenty that keep him excited and motivated at work. “SEKEM is my home, I spend more time here than in Monofeya with my wife and children. Here I feel loved and appreciated and we’re all friends and care for each other,” he says. Loyal, devoted and kind, Jimmy doesn’t fall short on friends amongst his SEKEM colleagues.
Outside SEKEM’s community, Gamal is a loving husband and father to three girls and two boys. Samia, his eldest daughter is already married, Amina is in her first year in university, Salma and Yassin go to school and the youngest, Muhamed, is only three years old. “I look forward to having some of my children attending Heliopolis University someday, as I wish that they will have the same wonderful experience I had,” hopes Jimmy.
A special moment every day
There is one specific moment that Jimmy enjoys the most during his days at SEKEM and he wishes for his children to experience it one day themselves: that is the morning circle. Every morning, all SEKEM co-workers at the Head Office gather around a huge tree that was once planted by Jimmy’s father, holding hands and speaking words of Rudolf Steiner, who was one of the great inspiration sources to the founder of SEKEM. Taking the time every day to stand together and admire the beauty around, followed by a few minutes of chat amongst friends and colleagues is something that makes Jimmy feel at home in his workplace. “In the community, you’re as important as the managers and doctors who stand beside you, Dr. Ibrahim’s often explained to me. He always encouraged me to learn and to trust myself and my potential. He asked me on my opinion in different matters, to encourage me to think even past my job and duties. That’s what I would also like to teach my children,” recalls Gamal.
From one generation to another, the love for SEKEM and its community continues. For the 41 year old Gamal, there’s plenty more to learn and he wants to look after and further develop the seeds planted in him by his father Yassin and his role model Ibrahim Abouleish.