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May 2017

A Note From Michael and Mohammed
It is with pleasure that we bring you news on recent developments at Project Wadi Attir. As you will see, the period since our last update continued to see intensive activities on a number of fronts.

While we have had our challenges, the project is thriving. Our construction program proceeds in full swing. We've improved professional oversight of our growing herd of goats and sheep. Sale of dairy products, now mostly within the Bedouin community, continues to expand, and various health-related products from our medicinal plants program are being marketed to the public. We anticipate a marked increase in income from the project's enterprises this year.
 
At the same time, the Visitor's Center is bursting with activity, hosting hundreds of students of all ages, and visitors from many parts of the world. We've also started work on developing an eco-tourism program, a potentially important source of revenue. Impacts of our ecosystem restoration program continue to awe us, with life now flourishing on our previously barren site.

Our efforts to improve management capacity continue, and we feel fortunate to welcome Itzik Zivan—already well known to the Bedouin community for his tireless support and numerous leadership roles—to our team as a volunteer CEO. 
 
A particularly exciting event during this period was our presentation at President Reuven Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem. This was definitely a moment which confirmed to us the validity of our efforts.

- Dr. Michael Ben-Eli and Dr. Mohammed Alnabari
Aerial view of the Project Wadi Attir site in February, 2017
Our Goods are Coming to Market!
With the help of the project's long-time designer, Shai Zauderer, PWA finalized branding, packaging and mobile kiosks (built by the project's maintenance staff, Mohammed) for selling dairy products as well as products from our medicinal herbs, including health products and cosmetics, infusion teas, and the high-potency dried herbs themselves. We debuted our new products at a Passover Festival aimed at engaging local families. Despite inclement weather, over 100 families took part!
The new branding and packaging for our line of dried herbs and infusion teas
The display for our line of health products, from our medicinal herbs
Waiting with our new mobile kiosks for the guests to arrive
Families at our Pesach/Spring Festival
Professional Training
Project Wadi Attir has held several vocational and professional development trainings for both its staff and the wider community. PWA guides were recently led by veteran tour guide Raz Arbel in a training program, wherein they visited several different tourist attractions and modeled developing their tourism programming. Samir Kaadan, an expert in animal husbandry with the Ministry of Agriculture who has recently joined the project to strengthen the management of our herd, led a seminar for over 50 local herders on disease prevention in sheep and goats. On a related note, ORT Israel, Israel's largest network of vocational schools, chose PWA to guide 200 students from their ACCESS program in activities and workshops regarding the value of volunteering and community stewardship. 
Raz Arbel, veteran tour guide, leading PWA's guides in a professional development exercise
Samir Kaadan delivering a seminar to local herders about disease prevention in the herd
Women Wage Peace
During the week of Tu B’Shvat, Arab and Jewish families from all over the Negev came together to plant seeds of hope at Project Wadi Attir—a response to recent violence in Umm al-Hiran, where both a Bedouin citizen and a police officer was killed. The planting day was a joint initiative of the project’s own Ghadir Hani, founding member of Project Wadi Attir, and Pnina Doba of Kibbutz Lahav and a regional coordinator of Women Wage Peace in the South (pictured below, in an embrace). We are glad that the project had this opportunity to act as a space for healing in the community. For more information about the event, click here.
The organizers of the event (center), Ghadir Hani, founding member of PWA, and Pnina Dobo of Women Wage Peace
The group planted 40 seedlings of fig and mastic trees, with a Jewish and an Arab family near each seedling. 
Our Visitor's Center, Onsite and Out in the Community
Our Visitor, Training and Education Center is as busy as ever! So far this year, we have welcomed scores of visitors from the government sector, including from the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Tourism, and Development of the Negev and the Galilee, as well as inspectors from the Municipality of Tel-Aviv. This, in addition to hundreds of students ranging in age from kindergarten to higher education. Our family-friendly programming, including a sand art workshop and our Pesach festival, continues to bring new people to the project.

Visitor's Center Director Amran Amarni has also been bringing the project's message of sustainability off the project site and into the broader community: presenting the project’s ecosystem restoration efforts at the 17th Annual Environmental Education Conference, attended by foremost experts in the country; judging a Scientific Research Competition for Negev primary schools; and lecturing at Tel Aviv University's Porter School for Environmental Studies. 

For a more detailed overview of Visitor's Center activities in the first third of 2017, click here.
Members of the UK Task Force with Mohammed in the animal pens
Children in the project's nature-themed after school program ("Chug Teva") with Visitor's Center Guide Belal Alatrash (center)
Amran leading 120 Superintendents from the Society and Youth Authority in the Ministry of Education through the new milking facility
Amran with 5th graders from Al Fardus School in Rahat, the winners of the Scientific Research Competition for the Negev 
Building Management Capacity and Establishing a New Board 
The project has welcomed Itzik Zivan, an Israeli business leader with deep ties to the Bedouin community, as a volunteer CEO and mentor to the PWA team. Itzik is working with the staff on team building, budgeting and financial reporting, and business development efforts. With growing leadership capacity on the team, the project's enterprises are gaining in strength.

We have also reconstituted our Board of Directors to function as custodians of the project’s principles and vision. The new five-member board met for the first time on Tuesday, May 9th in Hura. Members of the board, all serving in their personal capacity and not as representatives of an organization, include: Dr. Michael Ben-EliDr. Mohammed AlnabariDr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha, Co-Founder and Executive Director of GENESISDr. Mansour Nsasra, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; and Professor Glenn Yago, Milken Institute. During the meeting, Dr. Michael Ben-Eli was unanimously elected Board Chairman.
Um Attia of PWA's Dairy wearing the new dairy uniforms and creating some of the project's already-famous yogurt
Drying herbs for sale. Both our vegetable and medicinal herb fields are now managed by traditional Bedouin healer Ali Alhawashla
Construction Progress
2017 marks the installation of the bulk of the project's green technology systems, a hallmark of the project plan. We began milking in our new milking parlor in February of this year, and our wastewater collection pit was also recently completed. The compost facility, green basins for constructed wastelands, and the medicinal plants' drying shed are all in various stages of progress and should be completed by the end of the summer. Work continues on our hybrid solar/wind energy system, which should be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

We are excited to report that we have laid the foundation for our traditional Bedouin hospitality tent and shop, also slated for completion this summer. Signage in three languages, explaining the principles on which the project is based, has been installed for the benefit of interested guests.
Prof. Isaac Meir, Green Building at PWA, and Yunes Nabari, Director of Construction, in the drying shed 
Work continues on the hybrid wind/solar energy system, which will be completed in the first quarter of 2018
Presenting our Ecosystem Restoration Research
In late April, Dr. Stefan Leu, who spearheads our Ecosystem Restoration Initiative at PWA, and BGU PhD candidate Amir Mor-Mussery presented findings at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. The presentation compared soil quality, biodiversity, water filtration, carbon sequestration and other factors of dryland health on the PWA site as compared to an untreated, unconserved plot, over a period of five years. One highlight of the results is that one hectare of restored dryland at PWA can now feed 3-5 goats or sheep, while in the degraded, untreated control areas at least 2 hectares of land are required to feed a single sheep or goat! Taken as a whole, these findings have great potential for combatting desertification and climate change worldwide. For more information on the results of this research, click here, or visit our Ecosystem Restoration Education Website.

Under Amir's guidance, a group of primary school students from the Bedouin community participated in the National Science Fair. Their project researched the effect of climate change on ant populations at the project site, and was based in the project's Ecosystem Restoration research.
Amir Mor-Mussery presenting research results at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria
Amir (left) with Bedouin students, presenting their research from the PWA site on ant populations and climate change 
Presenting PWA at President Rivlin's Residence
On Thursday, May 11th, PWA was presented to Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and a group of civic and business leaders at the official President's residence in Jerusalem. The presentation was very well received and served as an important milestone in introducing the project to a broader audience.
Presenting the project at the President's Residence in Jerusalem
Craving more photos? Head over to our Instagram, where you'll find a bunch of new pictures, including these #BirdsOfWadiAttir! More than 30 new bird species have been spotted onsite since the Ecosystem Restoration interventions began! In fact, the site is fast becoming a favorite resting place for birds along 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 JFNA Social Venture Fund for Arab Israeli Equality & 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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