“Aswan and the people of Aswan have a place of deep affection in my heart and within my family.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam
AKDN Press Release, December 18, 2003
Mata Salamat Begum Om Habibeh, wife of Imam Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III, established the Om Habibeh Foundation (OHF) in 1991 in Aswan, Egypt, to improve the quality of life of residents of Aswan and surrounding areas. The Foundation, now an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, has contributed to health, education, and income-generating initiatives for the disadvantaged in Aswan including the Aswan Nursing Programme, now a partner of the Aga Khan University School of Nursing.
The Foundation draws on the support and technical expertise of the agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network to advance the newly formed initiatives.
Om Habibeh Foundation Grant for Aswan
In 2003, Mawlana Hazar Imam announced a grant of US$ 320,000 for medical equipment by the OHF, as part of a series of new development initiatives to benefit the people of Aswan. These included a plan for a social development training centre to have national reach, and programmes in the areas of nursing education, pre-school education and the strengthening of civil society organisations.
AKDN’s Civil Society Capacity Building Programme in Aswan
AKDN’s Civil Society Capacity Building programme in Aswan was established in 2007 by the OHF with the goal of promoting civic engagement and participation, community responsibility and capacity-building in community development agencies while fostering stronger and more impactful networking and links between various local civil society and community development organizations.
Om Habibeh Continuing Education Centre
The Continuing Education Center (CEC), an initiative of OHF, was inaugurated on May 18, 2010 in Aswan. The CEC aims to provide employment-related training to the youth of Aswan and Upper Egypt with the ultimate goal of fostering economic development.
OHF Signed Agreement With the Ministry of Education
In September 2014, the OHF and the Ministry of Education signed a five-year Partnership Agreement to strengthen co-operation in the field of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the Aswan Governorate. Under this partnership, the OHF provided further support for ECD teachers and centres, enhancing the impact and success of the collaborations it has undertaken at government-run ECD centres in the Aswan governorate.
Aswan Skills Development Program
In January 2015, the Department for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development announced a grant to Aga Khan Foundation to implement the Aswan Skills Development Program in Egypt, in collaboration with Manitoba’s Red River College.
The project was designed to strengthen the quality and impact of vocational, technical, and professional training programs. The initiative focused on improving access to relevant job skills development and employment services for unemployed or underemployed youth.
OHF Signed Agreement With Aswan University
The OHF signed an Agreement with Aswan University to further develop the institutional relationship with the two organisations, specifically around the strengthening of the quality of education at the Faculty of Nursing, and the improvement of employability skills of Aswan University students. As part of the Agreement, OHF offered English courses for 3,000 students of Aswan University from various faculties to improve their chances of gaining employment after graduation.
OHF and Aswan Directorate of Agriculture to Support 5,000 Farmers
In January 2015, the Aswan Directorate of Agriculture (DOA) and the OHF signed an agreement o provide technical assistance to 5,000 more farmers over five years. The Agreement expanded the current assistance provided by OHF including technical support, development of private enterprise in the agricultural value chain, and sharing of best practice models.
Faced with the loss of her husband and no income of her own, Hwida had very few opportunities to better her circumstances. Living in the small village of Eqleet, Aswan and supported by her father, she needed a way to provide an education for her two children. A kind neighbour invited Hwida to a local women’s association, where she received basic training from a local civil society organisation supported by the OHF. Hwida was provided the tools, materials, and training needed to start her own kitchen garden. More at AKDN
About Om Habibeh, Begum Sultan Mahomed Shah
Om Habibeh, the Begum Sultan Mahomed Shah first travelled to Egypt before her marriage in 1944 and returned often after that year. She and Imam Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III spent many years at Noor El Salaam, their residence by the banks of the Nile at Aswan, where she made a home after her husband’s death in 1957. Om Habibeh, the Begum Sultan Mahomed Shah, who died in 2000, aged 94, is buried alongside her husband in the nearby mausoleum in whose design she was closely involved.
The family’s historic connections with Egypt go back to the Aga Khan’s ancestor, the Fatimid Caliph-Imam al Mui’zz who founded the city of Cairo in the tenth century.
Compiled by Nimira Dewji