Earth Day is an annual worldwide event that is celebrated each year on the vernal equinox, here in El Gouna we choose to extend the festivities to an Earth Week so we can enjoy a series of earth related events and activities.
Earth week is an opportunity to celebrate the natural beauty and bounty of our planet while also recognising our duty to control our environmental impact and to protect the earth for all future generations. The El Gouna community celebrates Earth Day by hosting a week of informative, educational and engaging events. This is a community initiative which it orchestrated and coordinated by El Gouna resident and business owner, Hoda Mansour, to involve the community and raise awareness of environmental issues and the part we play in the bigger picture. This is a totally non-commercial initiative, its organised by community volunteers that want to help educate people to protect the world we live in. It’s about awareness, togetherness and to encourage people to continue their earth week efforts all year not just during earth week. Anyone can participate and help organise an event, partake in an activity or just increase their own personal efforts, it really is all about the community.
El Gouna was already designed for the protection of the environment, coastal development is the biggest damage to the Red Sea, with that in mind the developers of El Gouna extended back into the desert instead of along the coast and introduced natural lagoons as a luxurious compromise to the coastal locations. Orascom promote a Green El Gouna in many different ways and have won awards for their efforts. They have Green Globe Awards; these prestigious worldwide awards are issued by Green Globe International, as recognition for providing environmental and socially responsible tourism. El Gouna is also a pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative which aims to improve environmental standards in the Egyptian hotel industry. In 2014 El Gouna was honoured to be the first destination in Africa and Arab Region to receive the Global Green Green Award, which is awarded to cities that display substantial measures and efforts within the field of environmental sustainability. We are a Green town and we pride ourselves on this. Earth week is a reminder to everyone to keep striving to maintain these standards and to improve on them on a daily basis. The amazing this is that every year new initiatives develop throughout the events of earth week which will improve our green status and hopefully inspire other town. From this year’s escapades there is now a plan in place to reduce single use plastics bags which will be implemented over the next two years.
Earth week 2016 began on Friday the 15th of April with an opening presentation and environmental talks at the TU Berlin where Biologist Islam El Sadek, delivered a presentation about ‘the Red Sea National Parks’ while guests also enjoyed wine tasting of El Gouna’s own 100% organic wines from Kouroum Egypt. This lead us perfectly in to a week of a Flea Market, open air documentaries, beach clean ups, underwater ocean clean ups, quizzes, tree planting, tour of the recycling farm, recycled art workshops, presentations, a theatre performance, street art and to end this spectacular week a recycled raft race.
The people of El Gouna recognise that today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders! They deserve a healthy green existence and this will only happen if we educate them about protecting the world we live in. The students from around El Gouna fully submerged themselves in the majority of Earth Week activities. Earth Week has actually been added to part of the curriculum at The German Hotel School, EL Gouna International School and Honey Bee Nursey. The older students from EGIS participated in beach clean ups and the year 10 business students presented their findings from a survey they conducted regarding El Gouna’s environmental awareness at the Library while the younger students were lucky enough to plant trees at the Fish Farm. The Art teacher Ms Rasha delivered a recycled art project with some of her classes; these works of art were on display at the Earth Week market and as part of the street art displays around town. The teeny tiny students from Honey Bee Nursery spent the full week learning about our wonderful planet and the three R’s, Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. They planted seeds, watched educational fun documentaries, sang songs, made crafts from plastic water bottles, they even had special Earth Week work sheets to enable them to learn about their responsibility to the earth even at such a young age. During Family day in Tamr Henna there were many exciting activities, Kids and adults were given the opportunity to craft their own masterpieces with recycled products and there was an abstract theatre performance by TAG. TAG (Theatre Art Group) is a new group that meets every Friday for a drama class in the Club House. The group is aimed at 3-12 year olds to enjoy drama related activities and work on performance pieces. This was TAGs first performance, a unique performance highlighting the importance of recycling and the devastating impact unnecessary waste has on the planet. It was amazing to see so many youngster embracing Earth Week and actively getting involved. They are our future and with the right education they can make the world a better place for us all to share; plants, animals and humans alike.
The week would not have been complete without the annual recycled raft race at the Club House. Ertekaa, the company who control all the waste and recycling within El Gouna, supplied most of the recycled waste products to everyone to use to build their rafts. Eleven teams gathered for the race to build the most ergonomic raft, which had to be raced across the lagoon and back to the shore. There were several capsizers yet most of the rafts made it across the lagoon and back but not all in one piece. As always it was certainly one of the highlights of the week with lots of laughter. The day ended with a prize ceremony in which each team was presented award and a prize which were kindly donated from local businesses followed by a BBQ. The winning team was the Element’s team who won an Ocean Diva Sun Set Cruise and the runners up, The Enhancements from Ertekka won a Colona Divers Snorkelling trip. The Club house kindly catered for the BBQ and most of the events and the staff were amazing, helping set up several of the events and they even made their own raft but unfortunately they didn’t win but their raft did make it back in one piece. The biggest supporter of Earth Week and the raft race was Ertekaa and they helped with several activities throughout the week and opened up their recycling farm for a tour, its ingenious the things they are doing with our waste. As always Orascom and the hotels were all extremely supportive and some even organised their own beach clean-ups. This truly was a community initiative that we must embrace and continue our efforts on a daily basis.
This year El Gouna Earth Week were lucky enough to have their own logo designed for free by the amazing Philip Bochkov, which in true earth week style will be reused for many years to come. The logo which features a green eye is a reminder to open your eyes and be aware of all things green, something that the community of El Gouna will continue to do ALL YEAR ROUND.