THE GOLDEN MONTEBELLO - FARMERS’ FRIEND 2009
“The Golden Montebello” for Farmers’ Friends 2009 has been awarded to Ibrahim
Abouleish for bringing a dream to life in the Egyptian Desert, a dream called
Sekem. Ibrahim, a faithful follower of the Prophet and Islam, has
reclaimed 70 hectares of desert in the Governorate of Sharkia, 60 km north west
of Cairo. Here he has created a place in which to live and work for
himself, his family and 2.000 other collaborators through biodynamic
agriculture, horticulture, cotton growing and weaving, medicinal herb growing
and the extraction of active ingredients for pharmaceutical use.
He is aware
that “Man cannot live by bread alone,” and therefore, he has promoted compulsory
schooling, vocational centres and a doctor’s surgery, used by some hundred
people every day. And as if that wasn’t enough, he has also promoted an Academy
of Arts and Sciences to increase the knowledge and training of the people with
whom he deals and the other people living in the area.
We know what it means
to create something important in a place where there was nothing and Sekem
represents an extraordinary adventure, achieved thanks to the professional
training and the sheer tenacity of a man who has enjoyed the secure, solid
support of his spouse, of his children and of the skilled colleagues who have
been working alongside him for decades. For us it is like rediscovering
the ingredients of a familiar story that took place here in Italy.
important aspect that strikes us and which we feel demonstrates the reasons
behind Ibrahim Abouleish’s success, is his link to his religion and its
traditions. He has organized seminars with an Evangelist pastor and a Christian
theologian to take a better look at the connections between the two faiths,
arriving at the conclusion that “Islam needs something comparable to what Martin
Luther was for Christianity.” He has overcome the mistrust of the local
Imams, who have welcomed him like a brother, as someone with something to teach
them and he has passed on to local farmers the divine order of caring for the
land with love, without harming it by using pesticides and synthetic
Ibrahim Abouleish has this to say about himself: “Lord, I sowed
in your name and the harvest came from you. I lit this candle; Lord,
protect its light in the world’s darkness”.
With this award, the Alce Nero
Cooperative would like to show this light to conscious Italians.