We are back after a bit of a hiatus with a very special guest, Helmy Abouleish, CEO of SEKEM Group, based outside of Cairo, Egypt. Founded in 1977 by Helmy’s father, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, the vision for Sekem is “sustainable development towards a future where every human being can unfold his or her individual potential; where humankind is living together in social forms reflecting human dignity; and where all economic activity is conducted in accordance with ecological and ethical principles.” Often referred to as “the miracle in the desert” many doubted Sekem’s ability to succeed. Not only has it succeeded, Sekem is celebrating it’s 46th anniversary and looking toward the next 40 years with a focus on systems change and a vision for Egypt to have 7 million farmers practicing biodynamic/organic farming by 2057.
Hawthorne Valley’s Executive Director, Martin Ping, had the privilege of visiting Sekem in 2023, and is honored to call Helmy a longtime friend. Join them as they discuss the four dimensions of sustainable development: social life, cultural life, ecology and economic life, and the 5-step path Sekem envisions for achieving their 2057 vision.
About Helmy Abouleish and SEKEM
Helmy Abouleish is CEO of the SEKEM Initiative in Egypt, founded by his father Ibrahim Abouleish in 1977. SEKEM promotes sustainable development in ecology, economy, societal and cultural life. The SEKEM Holding produces, processes, and markets organic and biodynamic foodstuff, textiles, and herbal medicine in Egypt, Arabia and internationally. SEKEM also operate educational facilities and is regarded as the Egyptian pioneer in Organic farming. In 2003 SEKEM was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (‘Alternative Nobel Prize’) under the leadership of Helmy Abouleish.
Helmy Abouleish is deeply involved in SEKEM since it was founded. He studied economics and marketing in Cairo and was for a long time campaigning in national and international politics to promote responsible competitiveness, social entrepreneurship, and tackling the greatest challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change and food security. He is member of a number of international organizations and councils, such as Cradle-2-Cradle, the World Economic Forum, the World Goetheanum Association or the World Future Council. He became a NAP-Champion for adapting to climate change and was appointed president of Demeter International in 2018.
Helmy Abouleish represents SEKEM on various national and international events and conferences and is a popular speaker in regard to topics associated with sustainable development.
Visit SEKEM's website.
Thanks for listening to Hawthorne Valley’s Roots to Renewal podcast. We are an association comprised of a variety of interconnected initiatives that work collectively to mee
Thanks for listening to Hawthorne Valley’s Roots to Renewal podcast. We are an association comprised of a variety of interconnected initiatives that work collectively to meet our mission. You can learn more about our work by visiting our website at hawthornevalley.org.
Hawthorne Valley is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization, and we rely on the generosity of people like you to make our work a reality. Please consider making a donation to support us today. If you’d like to help us in other ways, please help us spread the word about this podcast by sharing it with your friends, and leaving us a rating and review.
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Heather Gibbons (00:09):
Welcome to Hawthorne Valley's podcast, Roots to Renewal. Thank you so much for being here. We are back after a bit of a hiatus with a very special guest, Helmy Abouleish of Sekem Group based outside of Cairo, Egypt, founded in 1977 by Helmy's father, Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish. The vision for Sekem is sustainable development toward a future where every human being can unfold their individual potential; where humankind is living together in social forms reflecting human dignity, and where all economic activity is conducted in accordance with ecological and ethical principles, often referred to as the miracle in the desert, many doubted Sekem's ability to succeed. Not only has it succeeded, Sekem recently celebrated its 46th anniversary and is actively looking toward the next 40 years with a focus on systems change and a vision for Egypt to have 7 million farmers practicing biodynamic farming by 2057. Hawthorne Valley's executive director Martin Ping, had the privilege of visiting Sekem in 2023 and is honored to call Helmy a longtime friend, join them as they discuss the four dimensions of sustainable development, social life, cultural life, ecology, and economic life, and the five-step path, Sekem envisions for achieving their 2057 vision.
Heather Gibbons (01:29):
Our heartfelt thanks to Tierra Farm for their continued generous support of this podcast as a family-owned manufacturer and distributor of organic dried fruits and nuts, Tierra Farm is proud to put the people they serve and the planet we share before all else. Learn more at tierrafarm.org.
Martin Ping (01:55):
Good afternoon, Helmy. It's four o'clock, I think, 4:00 PM in Egypt time right now. Yes, we're just 9:00 AM over here. And I'm very, very grateful that you're making time and you're very busy schedule. I'm, I know what that is like having been over there and seeing how active things are at SeKem. So thank you so much for making the time to be on our podcast.
Helmy Abouleish (02:20):
Thank you, Martin, very much thank you for inviting me. Thank you for having me in your podcast, and I'm really looking forward to share and engage and tell you something about our story in the desert.
Martin Ping (02:34):
Well, I'd like to begin just by mentioning a couple of similarities between Hawthorne Valley and Sekem, and we're somewhat of the same vintage Hawthorne Valley in 1971-72, Sekem, 1977, and one of our founders, Carl Ege, wrote, "What we are founding here is a seed, the seed of a living organism. The organism is essentially threefold, pedagogical, artistic, and agricultural as reflections of thought, feeling, and will each needs the other if the whole is to flourish, all are interrelated"--And this part is the part I really wanted to focus on; "for young and old alike. This work together will create a place in which to become, in a true sense, a full human being." And your father wrote, "We strive towards a sustainable development towards a future where every human being can unfold his or her human potential, where mankind is living in social forms, reflecting human dignity, and where all economic activity is conducted in accordance with ecological and ethical principles." I just like that because I like coming to work every day where it's a place where human beings are, are encouraged and supported to develop. And I know this is very much at the heart of the work of Sekem, and I was hoping maybe you could just give us a a history of how Sekem came into being.
Helmy Abouleish (04:07):
It's obviously my father, Ibrahim Abouileish, who, who had the dream and who established Sekem at the very beginning. And it started for him most probably when he was born in Egypt in the thirties of the last century. And when he then left Egypt in the fifties to follow good to Europe, stopped over in Graz in Austria on his way to Weimar where he met my mother and where he settled and studied and started to work. And so on this path and with this wonderful history in his back, we were fully included in the Austrian society in the sixties and seventies. And it was somehow a surprise to us that my father then started to openly dream about going back to his home country and contributing to sustainable development there by setting up this vision and dream. You just did read at the beginning.
Helmy Abouleish (05:16):
And it was gladly so that my mother, who was always in love with Egypt, was very happy to do so. And both my sister and myself were also ready to join him on the adventure without actually exactly knowing what this would mean because we didn't speak Arabic and we were not very much introduced into the Egyptian culture, but we thought this can be a great adventure to learn a new culture and new language, new people. So it happened that in, in 77 then we packed our things and took cars and a ship and went over to Egypt from Austria, Italy, on the ferry to Alexandria. This dream and the vision you have outlined at the very beginning my father had, was not very concrete, and it got more and more concrete. The, the more it advanced Very early on, he already started to speak about biodynamic agriculture as the base for all this development.
Helmy Abouleish (06:16):
And obviously every expert in the country in Austria and everyone we knew told him that this is not going to work. Biodynamic agriculture and the desert is a no go because there is no agricultural organism at the first place and, and no cow and no compost and no biodynamic corporation. So it was not very supportive <laugh> what he got as a feedback. And from the other side, even those who said, okay, let's see, and so on, did not actually believe that he ever would make it when he then mentioned that he would like to sell any biodynamic raw materials he's going to produce on this biodynamic farm in Egypt, because everyone thought there's no market for biodynamic products in Egypt in the country, which doesn't know organic and doesn't know the matter and has very low GDP per capita and so on.
Helmy Abouleish (07:08):
So selling the biodynamic products in Egypt was another no-go. And last, not least of course, when he then once mentioned that he considered the ethical way of managing the supply chain and doing a new human economy, he called it aiqtisad alhubi economy of love. Then, then really everyone was sure that this is going to be a big disaster and going to fail. So having said this, biodynamic agriculture economy of love selling these products in Egypt seemed to be not a business plan and not a business case at the first place. This is how it all started. You have to imagine this is as crazy as it could go, and it it was a real mission impossible. Now, this is the only the one side, but my father did complete this in his discussions with people around us always explaining that what it is all about is not biodynamic agriculture, economy of love or even producing or selling or consuming biodynamic products.
Helmy Abouleish (08:11):
It's much more about potential unfolding and capacity building and continuous human development and community development. Again, everyone was quick and keen telling him that this is not going to be his main concern as a social entrepreneur or as a biodynamic farmer. He should care for his production and this is the, the role of the government and not the role of a social entrepreneur. But he did not agree to this. And to make it a very clear point, his first two investments were a tractor and a piano at the time when there was no building yet at Sekem, which meant that the piano had to stay in a tent. And you can imagine how, how, how people Bedouins and Fellahin farmers from the area looked to my father when he, when they saw a piano and the big red tractor side by side in the desert when there was nothing.
Helmy Abouleish (09:07):
So it seemed crazy, but it was his manifestation of, it's about culture as much as it's about farming, it's about human development and inspiration and potential unfolding as much as it's about feeding and eating and physical development. Now, this mission impossible, he embarked on, which turned out against all odds as a miracle in the desert because when you visited us a year ago, you could see a lot of the things he was dreaming about. You could see schools and the university, you could see the medical center and 2000 employees, you could see thousands of farmers doing biodynamic farming, and hence, a lot of these dreams which everyone thought are never going to happen, came into being. And obviously the question is always, how did it happen? How could it happen today from the perspective of somebody trying to analyze what happened, which is very difficult because Sekem is a social piece of art, huh, which is evolving and developing while it goes and is never ready, never finished, never something to be described, but always in process.
Helmy Abouleish (10:23):
But if you wish to look at, to any picture of it backwards and say, how did it come into being then it's always on all different levels, all these three levels of the threefold order of society as much as our respectful and sustainable relationship with nature, which came together in an artistic way of managing it. And so from the one side for sure is biodynamic. Farming is biodynamic agriculture is is a main reason for the miracle. The biodynamic preparations, the agricultural organism, compost animals, everything we know about biodynamic farming could create out of that sand a living soil with living microclimate, trees, biodiversity, people, animals, everything, healthy plants and so on. So the one thing, the one base of this miracle is biodynamic farming as a very holistic, very regenerative form of creating out of nothing culture and really taking nature into culture through our human in involvement.
Helmy Abouleish (11:42):
But from the other side, this would have not been enough. I have to be very clear, the biodynamic agriculture is, is very important, but it would not be enough for the miracle in the desert. Wouldn't there be economy of love, for example, to take on this organic, biodynamic, regenerative, raw materials and add value to them, manage the supply chain in a way that you honor and support your farmer as much as your employee, as much as your coworker, your partner, and your consumer in a way that every one of them gets a fair part of the added value. And you always try to answer this question, what's the impact? The, the the real impact, the true cost of my economic activity on the environment, society, human development? It wouldn't have worked. And by the way, this is also something important for those who can't believe that economy of love could ever work.
Helmy Abouleish (12:37):
Economy of love is not only working associative economy as Rudolf Steiner would've called it is very competitive because we are market leaders in the field of herbal teas when our competitors is called Unilever or Lipton. This proves that it's not about being nice and small, but it could also mean that you are doing a better job by working with people than against people and still economy of love and biodynamic agriculture, both together would not have been enough without a real continuous care for potential unfolding of every member of the community, of the kids, of the community, of the people in the community and around us without our holistic educational programs. And not only for the kids from kindergarten to university, but also for all the employees because potential unfolding is a lifelong exercise. It goes from birth to death and includes of course, everyone coming from school or university into the job market and working in a factory or farm or office and is still and must still make a lot of fun and give a lot of opportunity for development.
Helmy Abouleish (13:58):
Otherwise it wouldn't make any sense to, to work in a place like Sekem. So we are committed to this 10% of the working time of every employee for his potential unfolding. And, and it pays back even if 200 of our people are not working at any time. The remaining self-motivation, innovation and creativity is so much higher than we are outperforming everyone else in the same sector, whether it's textiles, foods, beverages, or pharmaceuticals. So I think this focus on human development is very, very important. And my father, if you would ask him in one sentence, would have told you Sekem is a big school <laugh>. So he, he actually was never very fond of anyone describing us as even an enterprise or a biodynamic farm. But more a school. Biodynamic farming, economy of love and potential unfolding would still not be enough without the forth dimension. The third dimension of the threefold order, the forth dimension of sustainable development, which is the community development part.
Helmy Abouleish (15:04):
This one and one equals 100. So it's good to give a chance every one of us to reach his full potential, but it's not as easy that the two of us working together can achieve more than each one of us can achieve alone. And this is the real miracle. How can one and one be 10? Not two, not one, not zero. And this is social piece of art which needs a reinventing every day. Yeah, in the morning when we stand up in the circle, ask ourselves what are we going to do new? What did we learn from yesterday? What are we going to change today? What is going to happen? This is the time when the angels can descend and upon us when the new future can come and nobody knows what's going to happen. Nobody can claim that he knows what's going to happen, but it needs this time for the real Adventus future to come the future which wants to come from the, from, from the future, not the past projected into the future.
Helmy Abouleish (16:01):
So this are the four levels just to give a description of the past. All these together are already a miracle in the desert, but having in mind that my father started off by a dream about a model for system change in Egypt, not a lighthouse in Egypt, and this is a big difference and both are nice and, and and everything, but his whole aspiration was that we could contribute to system change in Egypt. This is why he was so very much focused on setting up Heliopolis University, where we have these 3000 students and many, many academicians and research work going on as a place to really disseminate our idea, our model to interact with society, send out our ambassadors every year into society. And still, when he passed away in 2017, it was our conclusion at the future council of Sekem that we are more a lighthouse than a model for system change and that we need to focus for the next 40 years of Sekem's development on this issue of this dissemination, upscaling, mainstreaming our model.
Helmy Abouleish (17:21):
And so this is when we then set up this vision for Egypt 2057 with the 16 Sekem vision goals for Egypt with again, along every dimension of sustainable development. And in particular, we are claiming that in 2057, the whole of Egypt would be organic, biodynamic, regenerative agriculture, which means 7 million farmers or all institutions of Egypt, all economic institutions of Egypt or companies and businesses will apply the principles of the economy of love in a way or another to get more productive, efficient, and profitable. And that in 2057, it's not a question of kindergarten schools and universities, but every institution in the country focusing on human potential unfolding, lifelong human potential unfolding in a holistic way where you cover not only what is called natural science, but also humanities and spiritual science in a comprehensive way. These are some examples for this and everyone can find it on our website.
Helmy Abouleish (18:35):
And every one of them seems a mission impossible by itself. But we are the experts in mission impossible. So we are, we are, we are quite <laugh>, we are quite happy to engage on them because we learn most by engaging on them. And then we also have our roadmap, of course, very much inspired by the U theory of Otto Scharmer. We have developed this five step path basically where we say, yes, visioning is an important one, which you need to have a leading image to know where you want to go, but then you also need to really try to translate your leading image inspired by whatever sources of inspiration into the language of the time. And instead of complaining that people don't understand you, we start to complain about ourselves not being able to translate it into the language of the people around us instead of complaining about them, we are complaining about ourselves and we are trying in this centers which have set up now to really build bridges between spiritual science, humanities, natural science, translating it because we believe that the two are two sides of the same coin and the same reality and truth. And it's just the question of language and connection between these two sides. But after then we already know what is the story, what is the reason why certain things from our model are not yet translated by themselves and upscaled and so on. Then we need to develop also the prototypes which are relevant for the, for the people. The prototype for the 7 million farmers is not Sekem Farm, you were at Sekem Farm, but Sekem Farm seems too complex, too big, too beautiful to be a prototype for a farmer in Egypt. So we need to, to make a prototype in his context which he can embrace, understand, and fully support.
Helmy Abouleish (20:33):
So developing prototypes, assuming that we are the prototype, but at a prototype in the eye of those whom we want to inspire. And if we succeed in this, then it's about upscaling and then it's about a certain moment when we reach the critical mass, which doesn't mean 51% but maybe 20%. But if we can hit this 20% then onwards the mainstreaming will happen by itself. We don't basically need to take on more than, more than reaching this tipping point. So this was the pathway for each one of the 16 Sekem vision goals. And the one which we met last year is this, how to make organic and biodynamic farming mainstream in Egypt. And we agreed, I think when we met that one of the major reasons why it's not happening in the US and in Germany and in Egypt, that prices assumingly are higher in organic and biodynamic farming than in conventional farming.
Helmy Abouleish (21:29):
And the last 200 years have convinced the majority of the population of every country we are knowing that cheap is beautiful and efficient and good and that Adam Smith is right. And and so we have to cater to this as unfortunate it is because every true cost accounting research we have done in Egypt and any other country of the world proves that basically biodynamic is cheaper than conventional farming. If you internalize the externalized costs in our food systems, then biodynamic is much cheaper. If you include social health, water pollution, air pollution, climate change impact and so on, many, many, many things, biodiversity loss, if you would include them then there is no doubt that biodynamic is much, much cheaper anyhow. But unfortunately this doesn't show on the shelf and hence nobody is yet paying for it. And even if you tell by the way the story to the ordinary people out there going into the supermarkets, they don't change their purchase behavior.
Helmy Abouleish (22:34):
They acknowledge, but they don't change what they buy. So this is when we came with this idea of monetizing some of these externalized costs, monetizing the ecosystem services biodynamic farmers are providing to the world. One of them is that they sequester carbon or avoid the emittance of methane and CO2 equivalent carbon. And this is what we started as a prototype in 2021, finding out that by sequestering up to 10 tons or 15 tons of CO2 equivalent carbon in trees, soil or avoiding the emittance in compost, making a biodynamic farmer in Egypt can make an additional income which exceeds his original income from his crop. Finding this out was obviously our biggest lever for system change ever. So we then said, okay, let's test it with the small holding farmer. Then we went to 2000 small holding farmers all over Egypt. This is what we presented together at Sharm El Sheik in COP 27.
Helmy Abouleish (23:40):
And it was fantastic to see that also this 2000 farmers could sell biodynamic products at conventional prices in the local market of their villages. Could then with their carbon credit still have a much better income than their neighbors, better livelihoods, send their kids to school and sequester hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2 and mitigate climate change. So a real win win win, as we said. Then you remember, and this is what really encouraged us then to go for a next phase now until 2025 when we want to upscale it from 2000 farmers to 40,000 farmers, which would then sequester or avoid the emittance of one and a half million tons of CO2 and improve the livelihoods of 40,000 farmers and their families and reach to 250,000 acres, which starts to get relevant for the system in Egypt and would be then our next step to upscaling, next step to mainstreaming.
Helmy Abouleish (24:41):
And I can tell you we are in full swing, full flow. We reached in the last six months now already 2000 new farmers. So we are speeding up in the process. We are very, very optimistic and hopeful that it will go on as we are and that we will ultimately see this upscaling and mainstreaming of of regenerative organic biodynamic farming within the next five to 10 years happening. And of course, we learn every day and our biggest obstacles are, is our own capacity and ability to serve this 40,000 farmers with training and inputs and seeds and biological control measurements and compost and compost tea and biodynamic preparations, not only as a quantity but also as the right quality and and so on. And so, but this is our, you know, these are the, the problems we love because they make us better and stronger and make us learn and develop every day.
Helmy Abouleish (25:43):
So this was a big, big outlook now for, for, for where we are going on one of the 16 Sekem vision goals actually. And for those who are interested, they can then also look into our yearly reports and and so on. And we'll see that we are doing the same in every field. We are trying to upscale renewable energy as much as we're trying to upscale economy of love in Egypt, waste management, holistic education and potential unfolding and many, many other things. And I think in farming we are more advanced than the other one of the 16, but we really work on all of them, learn in all of them, and in a wonderful flow.
Martin Ping (26:25):
Curious on some of the mechanics around the carbon credits, because as you say, as you're scaling it, that's, there's a lot of logistics in that and one is financing them who's, who's paying for the credits and, and the other is the monitoring, which I can imagine is presents some challenge. So maybe a little bit about both of those.
Helmy Abouleish (26:44):
Developing a scheme, internalizing or monetizing ecosystem services took us nearly two years, huh? From 2019 to 2021 because to set up a high integrity rate transparent governance system to develop such projects, design them, then validate them according to an U N F C C C methodologies and then ultimately inspect and verify them according to ISO standards and, and and so on. International approved methodologies, this all needed capacity building and people to get educated and organizations to get certified and accredited and so on. So there is luckily today all the knowledge and all methodologies needed for such measurements. They are all developed and they're all there. So we need, didn't need to develop our own scheme for soil carbon sequestration measurements or tree carbon sequestration measurements. All is there well established the issue is to do it, to find the people to do it, and to have the courage to make your next step while you do not know yet the outcome a hundred percent and invest into the future which you envision, I would say beside the holistic vision and everything else I was speaking about, it's also this courage and our belief that by doing the next step we will learn and believing that your hands and feet sometimes are better learning than your head.
Helmy Abouleish (28:17):
This is part of the miracle of Sekem-. I think that what we have developed will work in every single country of the world and needs to be adapted to the context. Of course, governance systems can be adapted and so on, but it's nothing which is unique or just working in Egypt or in Sekem from the other side, there is a growing voluntary carbon market because there are gladly consumers, airlines, companies who take responsibility for the world and for the future and for the climate by offsetting their carbon footprints. And by the way, there is a lot of discussion should we offset or not should we reduce, what is more valuable? I think everything is valuable and everything is needed in this,crisis we are in. But also I want to be very clear, there is no race to zero for humanity and companies because race to zero in a very strict meaning would mean I stop breathing and I close all my companies.
Helmy Abouleish (29:19):
This is the zero <laugh> way. Anything else by reducing to the most efficient systems in the world, I still have emissions. So, and this is what for hundreds of thousands of years was always balanced out by the natural based solutions, the oceans, the trees, the soil. So it's not really requested that I go to zero as long as there is a tree and it's not requested for every company in the world to go to 100% zero as long as there are forests and soil taking on much more CO2 or carbon, then what we have in the atmosphere today. So I think it's about this balance, and this is why these companies which offset their footprint with agricultural carbon credits in, in our particular case or economy of love carbon credits in our particular case, they do something for the climate, but they also support the farmers to do a transition and have better livelihoods and so on. And there are these partners and clients of us in our value chains, of course in supply chains. This, this would be the easiest, the insetting partners let's say. But there are also some platforms and customers, bigger customers, retail, wholesale, and all kind of customers who buy this CO2, agricultural carbon credits from us, which then create the income, which, which goes back to the farmer and improves his livelihood.
Martin Ping (30:49):
You mentioned Otto Scharmer and thinking of the three voices that can get in the way of doing that deep dive to find out what is my true purpose in the world and how am I operating from that space. And there's voices of judgment, voices of cynicism and big one voices of fear. But cynicism seems to be running rather rampant with, you know, people being cynical about somebody trying to do the right thing. And you mentioned doing it with integrity and transparency as being key which I agree to maybe the only way to safeguard against cynicism, but I guess people get frustrated that there are examples of so-called greenwashing and companies or others who know what they should be doing and say they're doing it as a marketing ploy but aren't actually getting around to doing it in the same way that Sekem is. How would you see us like moving beyond this, this kind of cynical outlook?
Helmy Abouleish (31:47):
I really truly believe that what is needed today and what every one of us as a responsible citizen, responsible person can do is taking responsibility by his next purchase decision, his next step, his next act in life. And it starts of course, with what I'm going to eat, but knowing that what I'm going to eat is not only affecting my stomach, it's affecting climate, society, biodiversity, animals, all the natural kingdoms. I think this is what people today still do not always embrace and instead of complaining about those outside who are not doing the right job, and they should do this, and let's say the defense should stop this and Monsanto should, should stop this with, and all this I agree with, of course I'm not saying they're doing great things, but instead of just complaining about people, we could change the world by doing the next step ourselves and just by the deeds of us, the world will change because the world outside is the world we buy and purchase.
Helmy Abouleish (33:08):
It's the world we create. It's not the world of the big corporations. The big corporations are serving our needs and demands and wishes. So this is why I'm always trying here in our community, within our students and Sekem community, I'm trying to promote instead of critics, cynicism, discussions an attitude of let me do my next right step, let me care about what I can care and change about and and the world will change. Yeah. If many, many people join us in this movement, we don't need only to focus on the the mistakes of others, let's focus on the right things we are doing. Which does not mean we don't need lobbying and we don't need all kind of communication. But I, and in our Sekem community, we, we tend to focus more on what can we do and we can do so many things. And we as the very beautiful Sekem community you have witnessed, are still improving every day, asking ourselves what can we do better? How can we emit less? How can we sequester more? How can we have a better social impact on the villages around us? And so on and so on. And by doing this, we can really contribute instead of speaking about contributions
Martin Ping (34:31):
During the turbulence in Egypt, not too, too long ago you were actually arrested, correct?
Helmy Abouleish (34:38):
Correct. I was in remand custody for 100 days.
Martin Ping (34:43):
100 days. Now knowing all the work that where you live and all the work that you have to do to be, to be remanded for 100 days could have been demoralizing, I would imagine. But you turned it around <laugh>.
Helmy Abouleish (35:01):
I actually learned in this 100 days more than I learned in some years before. And there were a lot of, of, of lessons learned for me in this, in this 100 days. But the most important is to, to really sense that you can get free behind fences and you can be very, very much a slave outside the fences, slave of, you know, of this race to nothing race of darkness, slave of your mobile Blackberry iPhone or whatever you want to call it, and just of so many things. Yeah. And, and, and this is, this is the real danger. So I think I learned, again to really honor the importance of spirituality and reflection and vision. For me it was a very well timed 100 day capacity building program because I was 59. 49, exactly 49. So it was the right time. And at 49, you, you either do it by your own enlightenment or you do it by crisis, but in the end it's the chance of your life to readjust things in your life. And this is what happened to me by crisis, but I, I think it, it, it was a real gift for, for my for my biography.
Martin Ping (36:24):
My dear friend Helmy, I will again say thank you and I hope we cross paths soon. I think maybe in November we do something together for the biodynamic conference in Boulder.
Helmy Abouleish (36:36):
I'm looking forward.
Martin Ping (36:37):
Yeah, me too. It's gonna be a lucky group to get to hear <laugh> hear this and thank you. Well, my love and greetings to everyone.
Helmy Abouleish (36:45):
Thank you. The same to your community of course. And all, everyone I know there, thank you.
Heather Gibbons (36:53):
If you'd like to learn more about the miracle in the desert and their company's products and vision for a sustainable future for all, visit sekem.com. S e k e m. Thanks for listening to Hawthorne Valley's Roots to Renewal podcast. We are an association comprised of a variety of interconnected initiatives that work collectively to meet our mission. You can learn more about our work by visiting our website at hawthornevalley.org. Hawthorne Valley is a registered 5 0 1 C three nonprofit organization and we rely on the generosity of people like you to make our work a reality. Please consider making a donation to support us today. If you'd like to help us in other ways, please help spread the word about this podcast by sharing it with your friends and leaving us a rating and review. We are grateful to our sponsor, Tierra Farm, for making this podcast possible and our heartfelt thanks to Grammy Award-winning artist Aaron Dessner for providing our soundtrack, and to Aaron Ping for his editing expertise.