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An Update from Project Wadi Attir, a Jewish National Fund Partner

A Note From Michael and Mohammed
The months since our last update saw a significant surge of activities at the project site. With the Visitor Center coming into its own, the number of students and visitors has been growing steadily. During this period, construction and various site development activities continued and the first batch of products from the project’s economic enterprises have been successfully introduced to local markets. New talent, both women and men, have joined the team and we have been putting efforts into strengthening management processes.


It has been a long haul since the project’s inception in 2008, but we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If all goes well, the task we set ourselves up to accomplish should be completed by the end of next year, with all of the project’s essential functions in operation.

During the next period to the end of 2017, we look to complete the project’s construction program, with a focus on installing our integrated infrastructure of green technologies, including the hybrid solar and wind energy system, the wastewater treatment system, and biogas and compost production components. At the same time, we plan to strengthen our income-producing activities, improve our management processes, and address long term organizational questions to ensure that we meet expanding future needs to the best of our ability.

Once again we wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our supporters and friends.

– Dr. Michael Ben-Eli and Dr. Mohammed Alnabari

Organic Olive Oil from PWA
We are proud to announce that our abundant olive harvest has yielded the first batch of organic olive oil. In honor of this milestone, click here for a photo essay that takes you through the planting and growth of PWA’s olive grove.

 

Selling 1000s of Kilos of Dairy Products!
As we finalize construction on the Herding and Dairy Initiative’s milking facility, the dairy has already produced thousands of kilos of Jibneh and Tzfat cheese, Labneh and yogurt, as well as tens of thousands of liters of goat’s milk this year. The team has completed the product branding and packaging design, and has purchased a delivery truck (pictured below) for distributing the finished product, which is selling briskly within the Bedouin community, and is enjoyed by all visitors of the site.
With the dairy’s new delivery truck.
A batch of yogurt ready for sale.
Launching a Line of All-Natural Cosmetics
There has also been great progress in the development and branding for 10 new, all-natural cosmetics, made with medicinal herbs grown on the project site.Ali Alhawashla, the Director of the Medicinal Plants Initiative, has meanwhile designed and supervised the fabrication of a tumbling machine in order to more efficiently process the dried herbs, removing the woody parts of the plants from the herb itself. You can view the machine in action here.
Branding samples for two of the ten products in the launching line.
Ali with his new machine for processing medicinal plants.
Welcoming 100s of Visitors Monthly
Our Visitor, Training and Education Center is now welcoming between 600-700 diverse visitors every month, from around the country and the world. To see photos from the Center’s educational offerings this quarter, from pre-kindergarteners through to higher education and even to the educators themselves, clickhere. To see photos of other visitors, including Holland and Germany’s Ambassadors and the Directors of their Ministries of Agriculture, as well as the Ambassador from the European Union, click here.
Pre-kindergarteners from the local Andalus pre-school.
A member of the EU delegation in the project’s pens.
New Student Programs at the Visitor’s Center
The Visitor’s Center has launched two promising new programs this summer. Amran has created a Zoological Farm and Humane Education Program to introduce both students and tourists to the animals of the Negev, and the animals close to Bedouin culture, imparting a message of empathy, kindness, stewardship and ethical treatment of animals and teaching children how to express their feelings in a non-violent manner. Local students have already begun visiting the project, and will take on a consistent role in caring for the animals—horses, camels, goats, birds, and others—that now live on the project site.But perhaps our most exciting development this summer was our Young Ecologist Summer Camp. Led by five newly-trained Visitor Center guides, 35 local 3rd to 5th graders spent nine days together, caring for and observing animals, doing science experiments, making eco-art, building teepees, playing team-building games, and lots, lots more! On the last day of camp, campers presented about something they learned at camp to other children from the area, and were awarded a graduation certificate. “We have based this intensive project, and its curriculum, on The Sustainability Laboratory’s Five Core Principles of Sustainability, and I am so happy and excited to share it with the children,” Amran said. For more wonderful pictures from our Young Ecologist Day Camp, click here and here.
Introducing students to the animals that live at PWA, as part of our new Zoological Farm Program.
Campers at the “Young Ecologist” Day Camp.
Improving our Management and Fundraising Processes
Yoram Cohen, a seasoned entrepreneur and business leader with extensive experience in both small and large enterprises, is directly mentoring new hire Lina Alatawna, a young Bedouin woman with a Masters degree from Sami Shamoon College of Engineering, to fill her role as the project’s Director of Operations. The two of them are leading the project team in strengthening business and management processes. Under their partnership, the team as a whole—which has grown to 25 employees, 20 of whom are full-time, and 13 of whom are women—is gaining in discipline and capacity.Meanwhile, we have also begun working with the Marom Group, an international social investment house who will mentor our team in building its own fundraising processes and capacity, which will help the project build for years to come.
From left: Mohammed Alnabari, Mayor of Hura; Yunes Nbari, Project Manager; Yoram Cohen, Business and Management Consultant; Lina Alatawna, Director of Operations; Nahid Abu Shareb, Bookkeeper
Greening the Desert
The project site continues to bloom thanks to our Ecosystem Restoration Project, appearing particularly green during these spring and summer months. The team is preparing to launch a comprehensive soil evaluation, while also working to expand the educational modules on the Ecosystem Restoration Educational Website, with a pilot curriculum focusing on high school students.
Recognition
We are pleased to announce that PWA has been featured in an impressive new publication called “The Desert and the Cities Sing: Discovering Today’s Israel,” by Lin Arison (who decided to include the project after visiting in 2012) and Diana Stoll. From the publication: “Today Project Wadi Attir–the first-ever Bedouin agricultural cooperative in Israel–serves as a hub for eco-tourism, and as a model for Jewish-Bedouin collaboration. As Mayor Alnabari puts it: ‘It is good for the people. It makes them feel good as citizens. It makes them proud to be part of Israel.'” The multimedia package, which also includes a portfolio of photographs, documentary DVDs, and even a scarf, will be released September 20 by Chronicle Books, but you can preorder your copy here.Project Wadi Attir was also recently the subject of a feature in the Jerusalem Post, and in the local Negev paper Yediot HaNegev.
The Desert and the Cities Sing multimedia package, which features Project Wadi Attir
A feature on the project in local newspaper, Yediot HaNegev
Craving more photos? Head over to our Instagram, where you’ll find a bunch of new pictures from our Young Ecologist Day Camp!

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