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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.
Another 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 fertilisers.
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.


 

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