Cultural Activities for Bedouin Children

The activities aim to improve the knowledge the children of Serabit el-Khadim have of their environment, history and cultural heritage.

1) Pottery Session
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Create cultural elements of Serabit el-Khadim: the temple, Hathor, daily-use pottery, inscriptions carving…etc.

2) Astronomy Session

101 astronomy, draw the skies above!

3) Story Telling

Each child tells a local story.

4) Photography Session

Disposable cameras for Bedouin children, a field trip in order to recognize, observe and capture elements of the surrounding cultural and natural landscape.

5) Geology Session

Identification cards of various local rock formations to be distributed to children in order to collect similar rocks.

6) Coloring-Activities

Bedouin hand-drawn stories.

7) Geography Sessions

Introduction to the basics of reading a map and to the Geography of Egypt and Sinai.

Training of the Women of Serabit el-Khadim

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Training Focus

Introducing the women of Serabit el-Khadim to more contemporary bead-work, thus helping them compete in the current market for Bedouin crafts.

Training Personnel

The training was performed by Elham Zayed; the trainer currently handling women’s training projects in St Catherine and collaborating extensively with the Fansina project.

Training Localities

Serabit el-Khadim was divided into six localities; Ba’la, Sewq, Abu Maragh, al-Zubier, el-Lehyan and al-Sieh.
The training took place in five localities with exception of al-Sieh due to limited resources.
Al-Sieh presents a good opportunity for farming. Further training is recommended in order to include such an activity.

Trainees

There are currently 30 women included in the training:
- 9 in Ba’la: bead-work and wool
- 13 in Abu Maragh: bead-work and wool
- 2 in Sewq: bead-work
- 4 in al-Zubier: bead-work
- 2 in el-Lehyan: turquoise piercing and shaping

The Training

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The training for each group was held in the house of the oldest women of the locality. Due to the cultural customs restricting women’s movement from one locality to the next, the training was repeated per group and required tremendous effort and dedication from the trainer.
During the first week of training, some obstacles arose; mainly the demand for money in return for the work done. It was decided from the start that with regard to women training, no money would be given so that the concept of learning a trade is instilled in the trainees. Another problem was that some of the men did not welcome our presence as they felt their wives were being used due to the lack of stipend.
These problems were not felt during the second week. The people, particularly the men, were much more welcoming as the women were able to sell a large percentage of their work to passing tourists. Some even sent their work to relatives in Dahab and Nuweiba where there seems to be a demand for their handiwork.
In Wadi el-Lehyan, two women received turquoise piercing machines. They only needed a couple of days to be able to properly manipulate the machines. The aim is to form a local demand in this area. Wadi el-Lehyan is located further from the remaining localities and the people are not as exposed to tourists. By creating local demand where other localities can buy the pierced turquoise from them, instead of in Suez and other nearby cities, the women are able to generate income for themselves thus linking the localities together in a form of micro business in which they depend on each other. It is worth noting that the people of Wadi el-Lehyan buy their turquoise from an even further area—not included in the project—called al-Sahw where people are known for their poor living conditions. We hope the trickledown effect will reach them.
As the training ended, the women seemed pleased with the knowledge obtained and were showing us their own alterations to the different designs taught.
As a trade-off and for encouragement, since the women were not given money, they were provided with EGP 5,000 worth of material as start-up “capital” by the time of this report. This idea encouraged the women to participate in the training as it helped them generate profits. To ensure the fair distribution of material, the oldest woman in each locality, except for Wadi el-Lehyan, was chosen to handle this task. Each woman was introduced to her job and was told of the material left for her. That helped in organizing a sort of respected hierarchy and gave the women a place to assemble and exchange notes. The idea proved quite successful.

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The women were also encouraged to save money from their sales in order to buy materials. A list of all vendors the project had dealt with is currently under preparation and will be given to the women for future orders as a couple of them occasionally go to Cairo. This is to ensure the continuity of their work.


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