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02.07.2015

Integration Ecovillage – Solution for Migration and Eco-livelihoods

By: By Allan Stewart, Treasurer SICE

A team of engineers, students and philanthropists from multiple nationalities have come together to build ecovillages as a solution to migration issues. This is intended not only to create ecologically sustainable livelihoods, but to give opportunities for refugees to integrate into their host countries. The Syrian Initiative Craftsmanship Ecovillage (SICE) formed as an NGO in Uppsala, Sweden, on the first day of Spring (an Arab Spring?), April 1st. Looking for their first pilot site near Uppsala, SICE wants to build several ecovillages in Sweden and internationally.

The project concept was initiated a couple of months earlier by environmental engineer Fayez Karimeh during his stay at the Tamera peace school ecovillage in Portugal. After witnessing immense atrocities in his home town, Fayez left Syria in February 2014. On his long journey to Sweden, he spent a month in an ecovillage in Turkey, followed by 6 months in Tamera community, which he had collaborated with before the war. Having worked his entire life on environmental issues around Asia, and having created an oasis in the Syrian desert, Fayez finally arrived in Sweden this winter with a greater purpose. He believes that ecovillages are a solution for refugees and all displaced people worldwide. “The people of my region have lived in natural ecovillages for thousands of years”- Fayez exclaims.

The idea is to create easy work opportunities for people who are having difficulties integrating into Swedish society, especially those seeking asylum. Combining this with a truly local and resilient infrastructure of clay housing, permaculture, constructed wetlands, nutrient recycling toilets, micro scale biogas and renewable energy gives people a chance to reduce their expenses and avoid debts.

Fayez says “the money will come by itself” because he envisions this project as so close to many people’s hearts that it will generate the necessary interest. And it has generated quite a bit of interest already at this early stage. The project has featured in two Swedish newspapers and the SICE board have met with several municipalities and organisations who have expressed interest. Having already given a presentation at Uppsala university, Fayez has been nominated to come back to the university’s TEDx talk in the fall. The SICE team will also be presenting their project at the Nordic Permaculture Festival in Sweden this August and holding their very own conference in the Autumn.

The SICE team say they want to get as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible involved. This makes them very open to suggestions and offer opportunities for anyone to initiate a project that could be a component of this integration ecovillage model. Some of the ideas they have are to create a craftsmanship workshop, host training programmes for immigrants and for Swedes, have an eco-hostel, offer internship and research opportunities to students, scrap metal social enterprise, a clay building company, wild food & farming produce, and to create a collaborative platform with relevant projects in Sweden.

Meet Fayez at the GEN+20 Summit in Findhorn, Scotland this July.

Find out more  http://www.ecovillage.nu/

allandstewart@gmail.com

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