Oasis at the edge of the Sahara
Hello dear people,
We are Said (34) from the Sahara and Linde (31) from the Netherlands. It is our pleasure to meet you!
I, Said, come from a big Amazigh-Tuareg family. After growing up in the Sahara desert and living many years a nomadic life, our family settled down in a village called Tagounite. Now I live next to the small village Beni Hayoun, 4 kilometers outside Tagounite, where we are working on recovering 200-year old mud house. Behind the house there is a large garden which needs a lot of care and work. Our aim is to make the land green again, bring the oasis life back and to grow enough food for us and for the community.
Our wish is to recover and expand this house by (mostly) natural materials and to make this area livable again. The place carries many memories and the history of our ancestors. As a child, my family and I still moved around as nomads, but we would sometimes visit my grandparents in this area, who had already stopped in the area of Tagounite.
After rebuilding this old house, the goal is to bring back the oasis life - plants, water, birds, insects - in the gardens and help stop desertification, as it is a severe and growing problem in this area. We will also create a small guest space for travelers, a cultural & education place for children and an empowering space for the women in this area.
The village Beni Hayoun is one of the oldest jewish villages in Daraa Valley, and it was discovered by Ishak Aquim, around 2500 b.C. This place was used a lot by the people who lived here, for making a lot of traditional hand works and for trading.
My father comes to the house every day to work in the gardens and to help with the work that is needed for the house, and sometimes my younger brother(s) comes to help.
Linde is an artist from the Netherlands/Denmark. Her experience includes working in Waldorf kindergartens, teaching workshops for children and families in a refugee center, and helping out in homes for disabled people.
She lives in the project & house for a large part of the year, helps in and around the project and participates for a big part in the organization of the work.
We are doing various work: rebuilding the adobe house, fixing walls, building new rooms, taking care of the animals, taking care of the palm trees, cooking, cleaning, making bricks, giving shape to our garden and finishing/fixing the water reserves. The work is depending on the season.
You can choose the work what you would like to do (the work is also depending each period), and everyone does what he can or wishes to do. Please don't worry about the need of any special skills. We will be happy to show & teach you what to do and we will be thankful for any help you can do! And feel free to relax when needed.
We will make three meals a day, cooked by ourselves and everyone can get a chance to learn how to prepare the real Moroccan dish.
In winter we sometimes make fires in the evening for warming ourselves up, and sometimes we play music or use the fire for cooking.
In our gardens we grow date palms, wheat, grass and a very young olive tree & cotton tree at this moment. Our future goal is to grow all kinds of organic vegetables and fruits in the gardens that belong to our piece of land. With the drought here in the south, water is a big difficulty, but we are trying our best to find solutions on how to keep the plants growing, and all your ideas about growing ecological food & different systems are of course very welcome :) We recycle as much water as we can and have also created some small water recycle systems.
We’re currently also trying to grow some grapes, tomatoes, oranges, potatoes, watermelons, basil, aloe vera, sage and several other plants in our gardens.
AREA & ACCOMODATION:
The house is based in a calm area, and you will find yourself in an oasis consisting of a couple of date palm trees and gardens. We have a donkey, a dog and several cats :)
We have two shared rooms where people will sleep. One big, long room and a smaller room next to it. The rooms are inside the house which we will be working on, and the whole house is made of mud bricks. We have mattresses, sheets, blankets and pillows for everyone who will stay here. At this moment we still have no doors in the rooms, but we close the rooms with carpets. The whole building has an entrance of two big doors.
If you come as family/couple and would like a private room, please let us know and we can do our best to arrange this for you - although we cannot promise it as it is depending on how many people we host at the same time. We are planning to build a third room in the near future :)
We have a traditional Moroccan toilet and bucket shower which you will get used to very fast.
The place where we are settled can give you a good experience to get many ideas about the basic way of a nomadic life. For a moment you can discover and understand how technology can change your life and at the same time it is a good opportunity to enjoy some quietness and escape from the rush of modern life for a period. The weather here is sunny every day, you will enjoy beautiful sunsets every evening and at night you will see the millions of stars or beautiful bright moon in the sky.
We would love to meet people from different backgrounds and all kinds of cultures. By this way, we hope to exchange the cultures and different knowledges and ideas from all over the world. Since we have learned a lot from our parents and grandparents, it will be our pleasure to share with you in return this knowledge of our basic Bedouin life and to show you the desert. We will be very happy to organise a tour into the Sahara desert if you are interested, and we are super happy host you in our home!
ABOUT THE WORK:
The tasks could be all kinds of different tasks, varying day by day or week by week, like:
- Building different traditional rooms in the house. We want to build some new sleeping rooms and a big living room. For the building we will use mud bricks made from 2 types of sand and water
- Mixing mud and making a lot of mud bricks
- Cooking. We are happy to teach you how to make traditional Moroccan meals & tea, and happy to learn new recipes
- Cleaning the house & dishes etc.
- Building a sink and several other parts for the house
- Moving rocks
- Creating covers for the water reserves
- In some periods we need help with collecting water
- Digging canals for water
- Create irrigation systems
- Watering the plants. We use recycled water for watering the plants
- Gardening. In certain periods we plant new trees and plants and we want to grow organic vegetables and fruits as soon as we have a well
- Daily care of our animals; our dog Sou Sen, the cats and our donkey Khanaffi. The plan is to have other different animals in the future, including goats & chicken
- Fixing and cleaning the old rooms and walls (made with mud)
- We will soon start to build a new kitchen
- Make new door entrances in the rooms
- Building benches inside the house
- Building a wall around the project
- We need help with finding funds
- And with English writing and marketing for our desert tour website
We are always thankful for anything you can help with! Besides the work there is a lot of free time where you can relax, or we will be happy to walk together with you in the palm gardens. If you like to visit the nearby village Tagounite, we can arrange a visit to go there all together by tuk tuk.
When you arrive to Tagounite, I will come to the bus station to meet you there. After that we will find a transport to go to the project in Beni Hayoun (either we call a tuk tuk-taxi (70dh) or I take you by my motorbike).
It will be really nice if you can come to help us! We will do our best to make everything as comfortable as possible for everyone so we can all experience a great time.
- The weather is sunny everyday and the sun is very hot, so bring sunscreen
- Bring with you a comfortable shoes for working and some flipflops
- In summer (April-October): bring mosquito repellant and if possible a mosquito net
- There will be a lot of free time where you can rest or read a book/play games etc.
- Please bring your own towel and if possible natural shower soap (as the water goes into the earth & garden)
- It is good if you bring clothes that cover the legs and shoulders, out of respect for the locals
- Please let us know what kind of transport you will use so that we can be waiting for you in right time
- Let us know if you eat vegetarian or vegan, or if you have any diets/allergies. We are flexible with food and always do our best to accommodate everyone's dietary requirements
- During winter the nights are very cold, so bring warm clothes as well if you are coming in winter
- Due to wild dogs and passed on responsibility, walks outside the property will be enjoyed only together. This does limit your ability to explore the area alone, but opens doors for closer connection to the land and yourself.
Thank you for your understanding and please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have in mind!
Coming from a previous nomadic Tuareg family, my family and I feel most at home deep inside the desert. Far away from the city sounds and lights, we find rest and satisfaction as soon as I enter the quiet, golden dunes.
It is a hard way of living, but at the same time there is a lot of peace to find in the simpleness and in the direct approach to life that the Sahara desert and its surroundings have to offer.
During the everyday life in the small villages, I often think back to the previous life deep in the desert. It contains a certain way of living that is difficult to find in our current time. But in the Sahara desert, it can still be accessible.
The quietness, the harsh but calm lifestyle and realization that we are such a small being in this enormous universe, those are some of the precious gifts that the desert has left behind.
It is our pleasure to have you as a part of our project and we will be happy to receive you in our family house. Our days are varying and flexible.
In the work we will show you our old and traditional ways to build rooms by a natural and simple way. Of course it will also be amazing to teach you how to cook some traditional Moroccan dishes. There are many stories to tell about our history, way of living, the past and about the Sahara desert, where Said was born and grew up. He will be very happy to share with you his knowledge.