SICE is an NGO driven by a group of Syrian refugees in Sweden, with the goal to achieve a fully functioning ecovillage with job opportunities to its residents
The Syrian Initiative Craftsmanship Ecovillage (SICE) is a newly formed NGO (April 1st 2015) driven by a group of Syrian refugees and Swedes in Uppsala, Sweden. Our aim is to empower migrants and other Syrians to take control of their own lives, integrate into Swedish society, and do so in an inexpensive and ecologically sustainable way. We also find different ways to job possibilities for our residents in our Ecovillage.
The idea of craft as a sustainable and healthy way to supply for residents in an ”eco-village” has been there from the beginning in the SICE. A sound forest management creates many different type of jobs, from tree to product. SICE has already prepared a Training in the crafts of renovating log houses with SICE:s partner Pär Ivarsson as a teacher.
We ask for your help to start a new type of society which is independent of social assistance and can create many new jobs by the fantastic renewable natural resource – the forest.
Sweden, with its vast uninhabited forested areas, offers a wide range of opportunities for ecovillages that can among other things create products from selected logged trees.
Presently we are initiating carpenter courses in renovating log houses with Pär Ivarsson.
We are asking for financial help to initiate a new form of society that eventually will be self-supporting, independent of any grants or contributions from either public or private sector.
The Syrian Initiative Craftsmanship Ecovillage (SICE) is a newly formed NGO (April 1st 2015) driven by a group of Syrian refugees and Swedes in Uppsala, Sweden. Our aim is to empower migrants, Swedes and other Syrians to take control of their own lives, integrate into Swedish society, and do so in an inexpensive and ecologically sustainable way.
Fayez Karimeh Michael Bergman Magdalena Hydman Willy Palm
SICE President Planning and design adviser Coordinator Vice president
Kick-off for Syrian Ecovillage in Avesta
One by one the cars arrive at the old, decayed brick barn, in the middle of a vast field outside Avesta in southern Dalarna. The place lies deserted, but this windy Sunday in May marks the beginning of something completely new: a Syrian craftmanship- and ecovillage, combining housing, jobs and integration for families fleeing from the war in Syria.
The car doors open and the barnyard is soon filled with fathers, mothers, teenagers and smaller children – some of them already acquainted, some greet each other for the first time. A total of 30 people have made their way to this unusual event, some from refugee camps close by, others driving from towns one or two hours away.
L->R Ehsan, abdullah, Petter, FayezNadia & Ammar Michael, Fayez, ingrid, Robert Linda and Sabah
The guests explore the site curiously. The ruin of a cement silo rises between two brick buildings in clear need of repair. No farming has been done here for decades. But shortly there will be planting of apple trees, ecological clay houses will be built and the settlers will be trained in useful craftsmanship and maintenance techniques, leading to proper jobs and cheap housing, according to the plan.
– I am very eager to get started, this is a highly interesting project, says Ammar Hokan, engineer from Aleppo, who back in Syria ran a successful trading business, importing construction materials on a large scale.
Now he is looking forward to a role as technical adviser to the planned ecovillage.
Since the beginning of last year a group of Syrian engineers, architects and economists, strongly supported by Swedish eco-activists, are working resolutely to make the vision come true.
The Syrian Initiative Craftsmanship Ecovillage (SICE) is the name of the organization that was formed last april, and which now is on the verge of signing a lease contract for the land with the municipality of Avesta.
During the past year the group members have studied ecological building techniques, explored a number of alternative sites and visited other ecovillages in Sweden.
– We want to show that Syrians can contribute with new and sustainable models for the integration of refugees and take responsibility for our own livelihood, says Fayez Karimeh, water engineer from Syria and founder of the project.
On a table in the farm yard Olle Ridelius from the Swedish Society of Pomology (the art of growing apples) has displayed bunches of apple twigs, that are to be grafted onto larger stems and thereafter planted.
– The planting will be the symbolic start of our ecovillage, even if we for now have to do it in buckets since we don’t yet have access to the land, Fayez explains.
After a short lesson led by Olle, the children and grownups begin to try their skills, cutting the twigs at the correct angle and fastening them in a slit on the larger apple stems.
– I have always liked to pick fruit, we used to have a nice garden at our summer house outside Aleppo. But others took care of the trees so this is new for us, says Nadia Airoud who is here with her husband Ammar and their children Hamza and Obada.
Nadia, who is a construction- and environmental engineer, most of all wants to resume her master studies at a Swedish university. After a year and ten months in Sweden she speaks Swedish quite well, slowly but almost without errors.
– We passed all the SFI-levels in three months. Now we are studying highschool-courses in Swedish online through the computer, says Ammar Hokan.
His plan is to start up a business for construction- and decorating materials, like the one he had to abandon i Syria, but he realizes that this can take some time.
– So we will be following three different paths simultaneously: studying, starting a business and working with the Ecovillage. You have to be an optimist, says Ammar.
After the planting of apples, food is brought out onto the long tables in large pans and bowls. Several of the families have helped to cook and bake Syrian specialities. Soon the yard is turned into a very idyllic picnic outing, although a bit chilly in the windy weather. Some of the teenage boys bring out a football, while the younger children play in the grass.
The program concludes with a short lecture by some of the SICE board members, telling about the plans.
– The plan is that Syrian architects and building engineers will work together with Swedish colleagues to draft the houses. In this way they will learn professional Swedish language and Swedish building legislation, skills that will make it easier for then to get other jobs in Sweden, explains Michael Bergman, landscape architect and strongly involved in the project.
Two representatives from Suderbyn – an ecovillage in the island of Gotland – presents a picture of the daily life in an ecological cooperative:
– We own the land together, cook together and own the cars together in a car pool. Every week we have meetings where we take democratic decisions on which repair works and other chores that need to be done, says Ingrid Gustafson from Suderbyn.
Finally, Linda Kurdi, highschool headmaster from Damascus, dressed in a brocade kaftan and pink head scarf, holds a solemn adress:
– It is very important for all of us who have come here to Sweden that we can integrate, learn the language and understand the traditions and customs of the new country. We are a simple, hard working people and we don’t want to be a burden to the country. That is why we are starting this project, she says, applauded by the rest of the group.
Then tables and chairs are packed into an old van and the families return home
– We have reached very far now. Next we have to succeed in raising enough money. I am very optimistic, we even have a chance of attracting investors from abroad, says Fayez Karimeh.
A message from Linda Kurdi
First of all, I would like to thank the Swedish people for hosting us and welcoming us in your country.
Your kindness and niceness are highly appreciated. We are here today to talk about our project; Ecovillage. My coworkers spoke about it earlier, I would like to discuss another point, which is to integrate our people with the Swedish society. For this to be done we have to learn the language first as it’s the main tool of communication. The other thing is to familiarize ourselves to the customs and habits of the Swedish people, we want to fit into your society with ease and harmony.
Each individual has their own way of thinking and living that’s why it is important that we get along to further this community and hopefully achieve a better tomorrow.
We are simple folks. We love life and we are social by nature, we are known for our hospitality and tolerance and kindness to other people regardless of their race, sex, religion or nationality. We are hardworking people and we don’t like to slack that’s why we started this project. we were forced to leave our home because of war and injustice and we hope to find a peaceful home in your country.
On a final thought, I wish success for everyone involved in this project.
Thank you very much.
Agriculture Engineer, Hossam Mohammad Hakkouk comments on Sice Concept
Human adopted the organic agriculture at past to produce food needs . And the Syrian human excelled at it for many reasons and he still aspire to exercise this activity
within the environmental villages projects , which we look forward to do it in this ecovillage. The Organic agriculture is the art of dealing with nature not against it and the Product food with high nutritional value , sufficient quantities , maintaining soil ,fertility and avoid all forms of pollution to as little as possible for the non-use of chemical fertilizers and reliance on animal dung and residues of human after separated it's components to the liquid which is rich with organic food , and use the steel as a compostage , provision of appropriate life for those working in the field of production and processing of the food for their own needs and their access to adequate return , while ensuring a safe environment by working to open markets for food crops produced the desired consumer period , it is one of the basic organic agriculture objectives , addition to the benefits such as development sustainable , reduce pollution of surface, ground water , reduce to the risks to public health and covering the needs for animal productions .This is achieved by organic agriculture has ever known - IFOAM (ecological agriculture system is an economic social dimensions , aims to produce clean food with safe ways , taking into consideration the natural ecological balance , without prejudice at the ecosystem ..)
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