A fundraising for a bee garden for Essam

28 January 2023 | Great job

Nagłówek rMost of us know how important bees are for the entire ecosystem. The role of a beekeeper is to look after bee families and harvest honey. It requires a lot of consistency as well as knowledge and experience.

There are around twenty thousand species of bees in the world. The most known and popular is the honey bee which makes up half of the entire bee population. Although they are very small insects, they are famous for their incredible diligence.

The history of beekeeping goes back several thousand years. A cave painting was discovered in Valencia dating back 9000 years and depicting a man harvesting honey. Four thousand years old Sumerian records mention the healing and nutritional qualities of honey. In ancient Egypt it was sometimes used as a currency to pay for work.

That’s it as far as bee- and beekeeping-related curiosities are concerned. I could find more, but the story of Essam that I’m about to tell is worth reading as well.

Essam’s story

Essam comes from Sinjar. If you have associated this region with the Yazidis (especially those of you who already know the specificity of the places in which we work), you may be surprised by the fact that he is Christian. To be more precise, he is a descendant of the Assyrians who were saved by the Yazidis from the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire in the years of 1914-1916 (historically known as “Seyfo”). His descendants settled down in Sinjar to live among their saviors.

When in 2014 ISIS terrorists took over Sinjar, the Yazidis and Christians shared the same fate. They fled from the criminals together leaving their properties and belongings behind. For Essam and his family, the most painful loss was their house and bee garden which he had built over many years. Their lives were spared but they lost everything they had. They arrived in Duhok in Kurdish Iraq where they had to start from scratch. They settled down in a container next to a building site that was about to become a housing project consisting of blocks of flats. When I visited them for the first time two years ago, they were living very modestly but they were full of hope as well.

In 2020 we support Essam by buying for him more than a dozen of bee families which allowed him to think about rebuilding his bee garden. All was going well. He quickly gained customers for his honey which is well-regarded in the neighborhood. I had a chance to try it and I confirm that it is indeed delicious. It’s a shame it is not allowed to bring honey into the European Union because Essam wanted to give me several jars as gift as his way of saying “thank you”.

Unfortunately for Essam, several months ago the day came when the construction of blocks of flats near his place came to an end. Increased movement caused by residents of the newly-built buildings has turned the neighborhood into a busy area forcing some of the bee families to emigrate. To make it worse, torrential rainfalls that happened in northern Iraq in autumn and winter destroyed more than a dozen of Essam’s bee hives. As a result, honey production, the family’s only income, was drastically reduced. In addition to all of that, the land where Essam built his bee garden is not his property. The owner can show up any time and decide to build a parking there for the new residents, for example. Moving bees from one place to another is not advisable and always carries a risk of losing even more bee families.

How can we help?

The solution is simple but unfortunately costly. Near Duhok there is a village called Seje where it is possible to buy a piece of land and build a proper bee garden. We can say that we are known over there as we have helped several residents of Seje, so we will most probably be able to negotiate a good price. Seje is very serene and there is plenty of greenery around (for Iraqi conditions). A fence and a roof protecting the bees from the sun and rainfalls wouls need to be constructed To begin with, we would like to build several dozens of bee hives so that Essam could start working full-time. He knows his profession well. He has enough experience and I am sure he will get on well. It will be easy for him to sell his produce – as he emphasizes, his problem is with production and not with demand which remains pretty high.

It will probably take some time to collect the 60,000 Polish zlotys (12 000 USD/EUR) required for this to happen. It is not a small amount, but it is worth looking at it from another angle as well. It is often said that life on earth could not exist without bees. They pollinate most plant species, including fruit and vegetables, making our planet green. This is particularly important for Iraq where there is not much greenery. And in this case, we will not be helping a family of humans only – some bee families will be supported as well!

Help Essam make his dreams come true

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