Planning their first 'Gheit Lil Beit' event at Fagnoon this March 21st, we speak to Nawaya's co-founder Sara El Sayed to find out more about this brilliant initiative designed to educate Egypt's children.
In the hustle and bustle that is living in Cairo, many Egyptians find themselves out of touch with the issue that matter most in our daily lives. Looking to educate both farmers and the affluent comes Nawaya, a non-profit with a plethora of farming initiatives, who are set to host their first "Gheit lil Beit" event hoping to teach families, in particular children the journey our food goes through from a unique countryside farm-to-fork experience. To learn more about this exciting educational event we speak to one of the co-founders Sara El Sayed.
Nawaya's story begins post revolution when it recognised the need for development goals that are pro-poor and promote social and environmental justice. Attempting to work as a non-profit Nawaya faced several challenges that range from challenging traditions to finding funding. “We operate like a non-profit company but that legal setup is not available making it difficult to receive the funds. Funding tends to always be up in the air,” explains Sayed.
Thankfully, their hard work was noticed by Nahdet El Mahrousa, an Egyptian based incubator for start-up social enterprises, that instantly saw the value in what Nawaya is trying to do and accepted them into their incubation programme providing them with business and management training, personalised mentorship, expert support, and network opportunities. With their support Nawaya has been able to launch program like Baladini that Sayed describes as “a programme where we are working with a group of farmers' wives to help them produce clean balady products that are nutritionally valuable and profitable.”
In a short time, Nawaya has been able to establish itself as a leading pedagogic centre, serving the fields of knowledge in sustainable agriculture and land use, waste and wastewater management and low cost technologies. Despite their good intentions, reaching through to farmers can prove to be difficult. “Working with farmers isn’t very easy, because they are reluctant to change from traditional techniques. They won’t jump into something new unless it is proven. This is their livelihood and they don’t want to gamble with that,” describes Sayed. At the same time trying to introduce new, innovative farming techniques isn’t a priority for the state. According to Sayed, “agriculture is not where you typically see innovation. The state doesn’t want it to innovate because it becomes harder to control. It seems like they would rather innovation come from the ministry before being implemented on farms."
Despite the challenges faced, the feedback from Nawaya initiatives receives is almost always positive. “Generally everyone appreciate the educational aspect and sees Nawaya as organisation bringing a new perspective on farming, reaching through to farmers by mixing older traditions with permaculture and agricology principles,” clarifies Sayed.
With plenty of workshops and initiatives on going Nawaya have announced plans to focus on Egypt’s future by organising their first Gheit lil Beit event tailored to educating children about farming. “We hope to make this a monthly event, where we teach people about the process food goes through from farm to table. We want people to understand where their food comes from. We hope to get people in touch with farms, bridging the gap between those living in urban and rural areas while helping people make healthier life choices. We started focus on children because they are the future, and it help entice parents to attend as a family fun activity,” Sayed passionately explains.
As it stands, the Gheit lil Beit event is scheduled to take place on March 21st at the Fagnoon Art School located in Marioutiya, Giza. If you have children we strongly recommend checking this out, as it rare to find anyone planning an education event that revolves around agriculture. We all eat food, but very few know how it reached their forks and thanks to Nawaya you will never have to wonder as they have planted the seeds for change and are nurturing the future generation that will one day cultivate Nawaya’s efforts.