A School for Nawamis
The Makhad Trust started work in the Nawamis community to help them fulfill their desire to provide a school for their children. Long distances and a lack of infrastructure on the Sinai Peninsula disconnect villages and make it nearly impossible for desert children to attend school without leaving their home.
With the idea of making the community economically viable work started on an ecological desert centre. On the road between the famous St. Catherine's Monastery and the popular dive site town of Dahab, it was perfectly sited so that travelers could stop for lunch and enjoy the fascinating and overwhelming Sinai landscape. It was planned to cater for small tourist groups who also wanted to stay overnight, experiencing the hospitality of the Bedouins. The centre was not only conceived as a tourist meeting point, it could have served multiple purposes; this idyllic place would make a perfect alternative to Sharm El Sheikh or Cairo for conferences and other meetings.
Since the centre's opening to tourists in October 2010, the Makhad Trust has in addition actively pursued it's plans to open a school for the local Bedouin children. However following the financial crisis of 2008 when there was a downturn in tourist numbers and now, with the uncertainty following the popular uprising at the beginning of 2011, tourism has dropped to a very low level. Sadly the centre is, in these circumstances, not sustainable as a tourist venue; so in collaboration with the Egyptian Nawamis Development Society, the Makhad Trust has been able to realise its plans by the transfer of the eco-centre to the Ministry of Education for use as a school.
Dr Sherif Samra signing the handover document
In July 2012 Dr. Sherif Samra, President of the Nawamis Development Society, and his team from Cairo met with officials in Nuweiba to hand over the Nawamis Desert Centre to the Ministry of Education. Shortly after that, in mid-September, the first class was inaugurated and a new school opened.
High ranking officials and a large entourage including local press came to the Opening Ceremony held on 3rd of October 2012. The Governor of South Sinai, General Khalid Fouda and the Mayor of Nuweiba, Brigadier Mohamed Abd El Moneim were the principal guests of honour.
Running across the wadi on the way to school
About seven first graders come running to school in the morning to start their class punctually at 8 o’clock. They haven't got far to go as their homes are only about 200 meters away. Living so close allows them to easily return home during their break and as a consequence the educational life of the children becomes part of the daily life of all the villagers. Teacher Ali Zidan teaches the children how to read and write Arabic. Besides Arabic, the English alphabet, mathematics and basics in religion are all part of the curriculum.
Ali Zidan at the entrance to the Nawamis School
Ali is now living within the Bedouin Community and visits his family at weekends. He is one of only a small number of teachers who are willing to leave their homes and families in order to give much appreciated education to the Bedouin Community. Without their efforts such projects would be nearly impossible. The Makhad Trust hopes that the Bedouin of today will soon be able to teach their own future offspring and is still actively involved in the further development of the educational centre.
Hard at work in the class
Each year another class will be established until a total number of six classes are fully operating and providing primary education. Four classes have already been approved by the authorities.
There is no doubt that education must be provided in South Sinai in order to guarantee its inhabitants the basics for a self-sustaining community which can participate in national and international trade, the tourism industry – Sinai indeed has a lot of attractions to offer – and other areas of the economic sector in Egypt. The Nawamis School has been a great achievement and Makhad Trust together with the Nawamis Development Society wish to thank all who contributed with their support in making this important milestone possible.
Makhad Trust registered on eBay
13th July 2012
This week the Makhad Trust was registered with eBay as a charity. This means that if you sell an item on eBay you can chose to donate part of the money to the Makhad Trust and if you are buying an item you can add an extra amount as a donation. You can also make a donation without buying or selling if you have a PayPal account. You can see our eBay for Charity page if you click on this link, this page lists any items that are making a donation to the Makhad Trust from their selling price.
eBay for Charity has a list of over 6600 charities on it's database and since 2006 it has raised over £36,500,000 for these good causes.
Susie Drummonds March 2012 Sinai visit
Susie Drummond, our Project Manager, made another of her regular visits to Sinai in March and wrote the following newsletter for everyone on her return.
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Michael Ratcliffe (Chairman) and I have just returned from a week’s very hard work in the Sinai on our Projects. We were joined in St Katherines by Dr Sherif Samra (Project Manager of the Nawamis Centre) and his assistants Melanie Erlebach and Nassef, down from Cairo, as well as Mirjam (Nawamis Centre Manager) and Mahmoud Ahmed (Sinai office Manager). A tried and tested team we work well together and greatly enjoy each others company in sometimes difficult circumstances.
Engineers testing for water, Nawamis
During this week Dr Sherif and Melanie visited the South Sinai Governor’s office in El Tur with information on the Makhad Trust for the Governor’s website, and engineers from the Egyptian Water Resources authority were brought to Nawamis to test various points for water and a suitable site for the Nawamis well drilling.
There is no doubt that since the uprising in Egypt the police have been forced to take a back seat and both Egyptians and Bedouin are finding their voices of protest. This unsettled atmosphere has discouraged tourists which in turn has made it difficult for the very many people who work with them, particularly the Bedouin in South Sinai. The incidents you may have heard about are largely protests against the government and the lack of work and there is no harm intended to visitors. The Bedouin badly need visitors as well as water!
Original School Building, Nawamis Nawamis Centre (school building now office)
The downturn in the visitors over the last year has made us think more clearly about the use of the Nawamis Centre and as the villagers are desperate for the promised school we have decided to investigate the possibility of housing a temporary school in the Centre. This would cater for the large number of children due to start school in September and enable more use to be made of the Centre. You may recall that the first stone construction was originally designed as a small school.
Makhad Trust Chairman, inspects the “Sheikh’s” Well, Wadi Feiran
Our garden and community drinking wells project is going from strength to strength, indeed the very lack of work at the moment is concentrating everyone’s minds on their need for water, and more and more Bedouin are coming forward asking for help. As much of our finance now comes from Trust Funds and they are more inclined to support Community drinking wells we have a larger number of these contracts underway than every before. Since we began this project 4 years ago we have sponsored 65 garden wells and 37 drinking wells – 102 wells repaired and deepened in total. Most of the owners spend more on the well work than we are able to give them, indeed the well pictured here in Wadi Feiran owned by the brother of a Museina Sheikh is 54m deep and cost over £8,000.
Rachel’s Group, Wolf’s Corner Dam, Wadi Zuweitin
Helping the mountain wells with water are 12 dams constructed by our groups and Bedouin. The individuals working on the last dam, were brought together by Rachel Devas one of our Trustees and there are 3 more dams in the pipe line this year. Journey planning and energetic fundraising for these 3 dams is underway with Gloucester University Geography students having hosted a very successful “Dam Good Ball” in Cheltenham to raise funds for their El Arefi Dam build in June.
While out on our site visits, or at meetings in Cheltenham, Cairo or St Katherines our thoughts are always centred on how we can improve the lives of the Bedouin of South Sinai and we very grateful to all the people who make this possible. The Jebelia I work with so closely in the mountains ask me about the people who help them, they would like to meet them and want me to pass on their thanks.
Project Manager, 20.03.12
Susie Drummond's September visit to Sinai
Susie Drummond, our Project Manager, made one of her regular visits to Sinai at the end of September and wrote the following newsletter on her return.
Having recently returned from Sinai where I had a very full and successful visit, which was followed by a week when Michael and Sheriff were also working in Sinai, I thought you might like an update on our progress. Please forgive any information you may already know.
Adrian Boyd (an engineer friend of mine) was out in Sinai with me for a week which he spent staying up in Hussein's garden and inspecting all our 11 dams (at his own expense). He will submit a full report in due course but in the meantime he has pronounced our dams as being very strong and in good condition (in fact stronger than necessary). He had a wonderful time and is now very pro the Makhad Trust and wants to help more.
1.1 New Dam Sites Mahmoud and I did many recces of possible dam sites for our various groups that are coming out in Spring 2012. In addition the Bedouin owners of Community Wells are now asking us to visit possible dam sites and we need to find some funding for these as they are good sites but not suitable for our groups.
1.2 Sheikh Mohamed's Dam I took Adrian also to visit this dam so that we can make some decision about funding it. It is very badly silted up and unstable. Adrian has the view that any help here would be temporary and throwing good money after bad, I am therefore suggesting that we find some other site that will assist the wells in this area. We are currently funding improvements to Sheikh Mohamed's very deep well. We have discovered that dealing with Sheikhs is not quite as straight forward as with ordinary citizens!
Statistics: For those who like them
|Contracts completed in Sept 2011||Garden Wells 2||Community Wells 1|
|Total completed including Sept 2011||Garden Wells 44||Community Wells 8|
|Contracts now underway||Garden Wells 9||Community Wells 11|
|Short Waiting List (site visit completed)||Garden Wells 26||Community Wells 23|
|Long Waiting List (no site visit yet)||Garden Wells 85||Community Wells 21|
|Totals on Waiting List||Garden Wells 111||Community Wells 44|
There is no let up on the demand for help for wells. Our reputation, the success of the dams in increasing the supply of water to wells, the lack of any tourist work, has turned the Bedouin back to their gardens. Many are growing organic vegetables this year which has been very successful for them.
As for the community wells the need grows all the time and more and more Bedouin are coming from areas at some distance out in the desert from St Katherines. My heart feels sore that I will be a long time before we ever get to help these people. However, Trust Funds trickle in from time to time thanks to Sheila Pullin's efforts and we have just received £2,500, hopefully more to come before our November trip and thanks to the Makhad Friends for their recent great donation of funds also.
Thankfully Mirjam is now back at Nawamis and is involved in contacting small tour companies with publicity about Nawamis. The Centre itself was looking very attractive with all the plants and flowers blooming and Mirjam happy with the atmosphere now with the villagers. Sherif and Michael had a meeting with them to explain again about the NGO Status of the Nawamis Development Society which has now been granted by the authorities. Tourism is very poor at the moment since the Revolution but we are hopeful that Mirjam will have some success in attracting visitors.
3.1 The Well The funding for the well has been received from the Australian Embassy thanks to fantastic work from our Cairo Office and the Geological surveys as to where the trial bore holes will be sited have also been completed. I understand that there is now a plan for another survey before the work will begin. Delay is a shame but we need to be very careful as such a large amount of other people's money is involved.
3.2 The School The cost estimates for the proposed building are too high and are currently being reviewed by Sherif's office. Meanwhile the villagers would prefer a small inexpensive building now rather than have to wait a long time for a better looking school.
3.3 The Road What to do about the road to Nawamis remains an expensive problem. At the moment ordinary vehicles get stuck in the sand which makes it difficult for visitors to arrive without prior arrangement with Mirjam. One repair has already been tried but was unsuccessful. A better route in to the Centre from behind the Centre has been recced and may prove to be a suitable alternative.
4 Safsafa Garden
The final joinery, electrical, plumbing and finishing work is now going on to the Makhad Trust house (owned by Sala Mahmoud) at the back of Fox Camp. We believe that once this is furnished it will prove to be a useful residence for any of us working in Sinai. Some of the furnishings will come from the Amran belongings which have been moved out of Amran under the instructions of one of the Monks. Mahmoud is overseeing the site work and as usual is enormously careful.
5. Makhad Journeys
6. MT Management, Work and Contacts
Although we are assisting Mahmoud Mansur's aunt's garden in Wadi Tinya, his activity through his herb and fruit drying business are limited and he does not currently assist MT in any way. Selema is very busy trying to manage her business and her baby. Business if quiet though with few visitors.
7. Fansina Bags
So you will see that all is going extremely well with the Makhad Trust and we feel very positive about the future. We will all be out in Sinai in November working together and I will send another update after that visit.
Good wishes to everyone and thank you for your support
Project Manager, Makhad Trust
A school for the villagers - a dream come true!
28/03/11 Office of the Governorate of South Sinai, El Tur
Present from left to right:
Dick Stainer, Melanie Erlebach, Rachel Devas, Governor Mohamed Shousha, Sherif Samra, Susie Drummond, Michael Ratcliffe
A long awaited dream came true when the Governor of South Sinai, Egypt gave his agreement to the construction of a small school for the Bedouin villagers of Nawamis.
At a meeting between the Governor of South Sinai, Egypt, and Makhad Trust personnel at El Tur in April 2011, the Nawamis Centre project with the villagers was discussed and to our great delight it was agreed that the proposed village school could go ahead. It has long been a dream of the villagers that they could have their own school so that the children would not have to travel away from the village each day.
Their dream first envisaged a well, which should be underway during June and then their own school.
The following day a meeting was held on site with the Mayor of Nuweiba to decide on the exact position of the school and now architectural plans for a design to complement the beauty of the area have been submitted. The design is based on buildings constructed by the noted Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy who championed traditionally styled buildings made with mud bricks. It will be constructed in several phases but eventually include several classrooms, rooms for crafts and IT, a kitchen and dining area, composting toilets, staff accommodation and a central shade covered area.
The Makhad Trust and villagers are very grateful for all the official support and guidance they have received to bring this project to its starting point.
Great Start to the New Year – Our desert well! - February 2011
The villagers of Nawamis, in
In the past the villagers have tried to hand dig wells but ran into difficulties with the hard rock at lower levels. With a donation from a well wisher in the
The villagers will be delighted as they have consistently asked us for help with their lack of water.
Opening of Nawamis Desert Centre - October 2010
On the 31st October 2010 our Nawamis Desert Centre opened for the first time with a visit from Grimshaw Architects who were on their way to build a dam for the Makhad Trust in the mountains. The purpose of the Centre is to encourage the growth of a sustainable economy for the Muzeina desert Bedouin of Nawamis village based around their traditional skills of hosting visitors to the desert. Mahmoud Ahmed our Site Manager and Mirjam Duymaer the Manager of the Centre have worked hard to finish all the work on time for Grimshaw's. It is now a very welcoming, attractive and unique desert retreat.
As well as organised groups, visitors on their way to St Katherine can drop in at the Centre and relax in the shelter with its natural Bedouin tents, enjoy simple refreshments and learn something of the culture of local people. From the Centre it is a short camel ride to visit the outstanding Nawamis burial chambers which are dated to the fourth millenium BC. The Centre will also provide an exciting venue for festivals where Bedouin tribes can meet in their familiar desert surroundings.
Summer Rains - August 2010
The garden-owners in the mountains of Sinai rely on the water in their wells to preserve their gardens and livelihoods. Ziri’s Dam (above) was built by a group of students who travelled all the way from the
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