Catherine Exists: The Initiative That Is Empowering Bedouins in Saint Catherine
by Nadine Arab
Under the golden sun of South Sinai, an initiative was created in 2009 to support a great cause. Catherine Exists, a community development initiative that first started off as a social art project, tries to raise awareness of the isolated mountainous Saint Catherine protectorate. The initiative also aims to empower the Bedouins of the Jabaleya tribe living there as they are subject to prejudicial treatment.
The project first started in the form of a series of photos, showcasing nature’s astonishing work of art in the area. The photos reflecting the beautiful landscapes, as well as the Bedouins overcoming their daily struggles were published online and were displayed at exhibitions. The mind-blowing photos helped the area to gain much attention and reputation as an eco-tourism destination. Shortly, the project was able to raise donations and receive support from volunteers who were blown away thanks to the rich culture of the place.
Today, Catherine Exists with the help of its supporters, is building a community center to serve the local Bedouins by providing medical services, classes and new income-generating activities. The center is expected to start operating by the end of 2017. The project also focuses on enhancing travelers’ experiences by providing facilities at an existing eco-lodge that’s being renovated, as well as introducing them to the local culture.
With the current circumstances and the misleading safety rumors about the area, the number of tourists, whether foreign or local, dramatically dropped since the revolution in 2011. This has highly caused a negative impact on the Bedouin community as tourism is considered their main source of income.
With all of this happening, they’ve been deprived from their civil rights and weren’t provided with proper medical services or educational facilities. In attempt to end this daily struggle, Catherine Exists supports and empowers the people of Saint Catherine by creating human connections. If you want to support a good cause and wish to participate in making change, there are several ways in which you can contribute. All you have to do is reach out for them, you can easily get in touch by visiting their website here.