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September 2017

As the summer draws to a close, Project Wadi Attir is teeming with life! If you could visit the site today, you would enjoy a cup of herbal tea (grown and packaged onsite) in our new Bedouin hospitality tent, while listening to the birds chirping. You would take a tour through the grounds with one of our newly-trained guides, pet some newborn lambs, sample some delicious labneh, and tour the newly-installed elements of our green technology system. Can't make the trip? Peruse this newsletter–it's the next best thing!
Construction Progress
This summer saw a flurry of construction on the project site. On the technology front, we have completed construction on the infrastructure for our wastewater treatment facility and our compost facility in June of this year. Still remaining are our biogas system, which will be installed in October, and the hybrid solar-wind energy system, which will be completed early next year. In the meantime, we have installed the heliostat field of solar energy mirrors—one giant step towards having the energy system up and running!
The heliostat field
Our seed bank and drying shed were also completed this summer, to support the activities of our Medicinal Plants and Indigenous Vegetables departments. As of this August, our Visitor's Center received a new, natural cooling roof as well as a permanent Bedouin hospitality tent, both designed with help from Professor Isaac Meir and his team at Ben-Gurion University, who specialize in green building. This tent will be crucial as we launch our Eco-Tourism programming (more on that below)!
Yunes, Amran and the BGU Green Building Team (from right): Prof. Isaac Meir, Kobi Nahon, and Michal Barak
The new natural cooling roof on the Visitor's Center
Our Products Breaking Out of the Project Site
Our products are making their way out into the world. We have begun taking our mobile kiosk to farmer's markets in the area, where they are becoming very popular! We are also proud to announce that Rak Hayom, a restaurant in Tel Aviv's Shuk Tzafon which prides itself on the freshest ingredients, and is popular with foodies in the area, is now using Project Wadi Attir's dairy products in a number of dishes on their daily rotating menu. We know this is just the beginning, and that with a continued emphasis on quality as well as targeted marketing, our products can be in restaurants and stores all over the country. 

Meanwhile, we have filled out our Medicinal Plants marketing and product development team. Zohar Shalev, a marketing professional with 15 years of experience, will join Ali Alhawashla in spearheading product development and marketing. In addition, Salman al-Sana, a local pharmacy owner and member of the SHARAM Pharm Cooperative, with 105 pharmacies across Israel, has joined the project as a volunteer to help market our products to pharmacies nationally. Currently, we have already placed dedicated stands containing 5 to 6 units of each product at a half dozen local pharmacies, as a start to rolling out a more national campaign.
A dish from Rak Hayom using the project's labneh, here paired with beets, spicy green pepper, mint and olive oil
Our "Oasis" skin care products, made from our medicinal herbs, now on sale at pharmacies all over the region
Our medicinal plants team (from left) Zohar, Ali, and Salman, hard at work
Belal and Um Atia at a local farmer's market selling PWA products from our mobile kiosk
Eco-Tourism Program Launch
Amran Amarni, Director of the Visitor's Center, has been working hard to launch our Eco-Tourism Program. Besides the infrastructural improvements to the Visitor's Center, which include the cooling roof, the Bedouin tent, new onsite signage and more complete landscaping, we have also been building capacity with the staff. We have hired two new Bedouin women as guides, Shaimaa Alamour and Khulud Abu Arar, and the guide team as a whole have continued their training with tourism veteran Raz Arbel.

In the meantime, Amran has been introducing the project to Israeli tourism companies. He has been working with project designer Shai Zauderer to create new marketing materials aimed at tourist companies and has met personally with company operators to invite them to visit the site. So far, two companies have committed to putting the project on their Negev itineraries, which alone will double the number of tourists we had on the site last year. Amran and Khulud also recently presented the project to hundreds of large companies at a corporate tourism fair in Tel Aviv, and Amran recently participated in a meeting of tourism managers in the Bedouin sector in Yerucham, in order to coordinate efforts and find opportunities for cooperation. 
Amran and Khulud present the project to 100s of large companies as a destination for corporate visits
Amran (center) at a meeting to foster cooperation between Bedouin tourism managers across the Negev
Better Herding Practices
Under the guidance of Samir Kaadan, an expert in animal husbandry who has been working with the project since earlier this year, we are significantly strengthening the management of our herd. Diseases have been prevalent in herds across Israel this year, and in response, we have hired a full-time veterinarian to insure the best care for our animals. In August, we added a second daily milking to the schedule, increasing our yield while relieving physiological pressure on our animals. We have also begun acting according to a scheduled reproductive timetable, which improves overall herd health and gives the staff time to focus on the new litter before another one arrives. Through these improvements and others, we are working towards modeling a healthy and economically productive herd.
Newborn lambs at the project site.
The Faces of our Project
We wanted to take a moment to highlight some recent accomplishments of a few of our own. Ghadir Hani, founding member of Wadi Attir and our Executive Secretary, was recently invited to address the Rimini Meeting in Italy on the topic of "Peace and Coexistence Where it Seems Impossible," due to her work with Women Wage Peace. (For video of the panel, please click here.) Earlier in the summer, our volunteer CEO, Itzik Zivan, was honored with the President's Award for his volunteer work with the Bedouin community. Amran Amarni, Director of the Visitor's Center was invited by Kaye College of Education in Be'er Sheva to teach a course on sustainability. We are so very proud of them all!
Ghadir Hani addressing the audience at the Rimini Meeting in Italy on the subject of peace-building
Itzik Zivan accepting an award from President Reuven Rivlin (center) for his work with the Bedouin community
Building Management Capacity
In addition to our continued work with volunteer CEO Itzik Zivan, we have also begun working with Zeev Arieli, an organizational psychologist. Under his guidance, and with the participation of the PWA leadership, the project has begun strengthening its organizational culture. As we leave the “startup” phase, we know it is crucial to examine our group processes and to interrogate our project culture, and the staff is extremely motivated to begin this important work!

Welcoming Guests
Students may have been off for the summer, but we weren't! Our summer camp served 300 elementary school-aged students on the project site. Following the success of our Pesach festival, we had another family day at the project, which was likewise well-attended and eventful. As usual, we also welcomed diverse groups from government, civil society and the general public. For more information on recent visitors to the site, click here.

It's worth noting that many of these groups have been led by Belal Alatrash (pictured below, left), a Visitor's Center guide who represents one of our greatest success stories. Belal came to the project after graduating high school and has learned both Hebrew and English through his work leading groups of all kinds!
Belal, a Visitor's Center guide, with children at the Project Wadi Attir summer camp.
One of our guides, Walid, in PWA's milking facility with Jewish families from Be'er Sheva visiting on "Family Day"
Craving more photos? Head over to our Instagram! Below, a nest full of hungry glossy ibis chicks calling for their breakfast! The project site has become a stopover for dozens of species of birds on their migratory route. 
Thank You!
We want to extend our sincerest thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Social Equality, the Ministry of Development of the Negev and the Galilee, the Finance Ministry, JNF-USA and its CEO Russell Robinson, and the Arnow Family. We'd also like to thank the many foundations and individuals (listed below) for their continued and committed support of the project.

General Development and Operating Funds have been provided by:
Individuals: Diane Archer and Stephan Percer, Joan & Robert Arnow, Kathi & Peter Arnow, Elyse & Joshua Arnow, Eli Arnow, Ruth Arnow, Chloe Arnow, Talia Arnow, Michael Ben-Eli, Lawrence Benenson, Lillian Ben Zion, Martin Blackman, Joanna Corrigan, Alisa and Daniel Doctoroff, Eugene M. Grant, Jeffery Gural, Ron Guttman, Pamela Kochen Baroukh, Tony Leichter, Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff, Murray Nathan & Rita Calderon, Susan & Randy Richardson, Joe Rosenblatt, Shelley and Donald Rubin, Steven J. Shaw, Susan Sillins, Michael Sonnenfeldt, Michael Weinstein, Bill Wiener, Roy Zuckerberg. Foundations: Anonymous Foundation (Israel), The Arnow Family Fund, The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, The Moses Feldman Family Foundation, Shirley and William Fleischer Foundation, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, The Green Environment Fund, Jewish Funders Network, The Social Venture Fund for Arab Jewish Equality and Shared Society, The Robert Sillins Family Foundation, The Alan B. Slifka Foundation, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, The Kirsh Foundation, Bernstein Family Foundation, The Strauss Foundation, The Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds. 
 
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