Back in 2008 I took a trip to Sinai to research the possibility of building an eco-farm community to help orphans and widows. We toured a community called New Basaisa, founded by Professor Salah Arafa from the American University in Cairo. Back 30 years ago, Professor Arafa started travelling to Basaisa in the Nile delta to work with the villagers. After many years, the young college graduates lamented that they had no opportunities for jobs or buying a house. So the group established New Basaisa. Each family gets 7.5 acres of land to plant. When they have saved $6,000, they build their house. I was excited until I learned the Egyptian government was a huge impediment to progress and that they were charging something like a million Egyptian pounds per acre for land. We put the project on hold.
Fast forward three years. The Egyptian government is gone. The new leaders are begging people to come to Sinai and do exactly what we were planning three years ago. And get this, the will give the land and help financially with getting started. They are worried about the unhappy Bedouin in Sinai, the Palestinians on the border, and the crazy idea that Israel wants to reoccupy Sinai. So they want more people to go and live in Sinai. Magdi and I started researching and I rediscovered Set El Hossn farm just south of New Basaisa. I had wanted to visit this farm in 2008, but circumstances prevented me. We are planning a trip to Sinai later this year to check out Set El Hossn. This video is wonderful.
Here are photos of our trip to New Basaisa in 2008. It will be interesting to see how much the place has changed in three years.
Here is half of the model for the community.
Here is a training center being built, paid for by the European Union.