The Young Potters of Luxor

Gourna Pottery SchoolIn 2008, Marie-Christine, a French nurse who, for 8 years, had been treating children in the clinic she had created in a poor village outside the modern city of Luxor, Egypt, had an idea to create a pottery school for underprivileged boys. She found that it was not enough to treat a wound and that in reality it was necessary to work on the education of the children, to give them an opening for their future by teaching them a useful craft like pottery, and also by teaching them a healthy lifestyle through diet and hygiene. She sought to provide these underprivileged boys with a way out of a fate of begging from tourists. Indeed, most of the dozen or so children that joined the pottery school already had to earn a living.

The basic idea was to bring these children together to better surround them, to offer them a place for a protected life, a source of support. Marie-Christine was inspired by an existing school in Fayoum, an oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt, to launch this project in Luxor. In addition to learning pottery, the children receive courses in Arabic, geography, history and anatomy. They enjoy balanced meals and basic medical care. They are also offered the opportunity to discover their own country through excursions. 

Today, the first generation of children have become young adults. The pottery made by these young potters is sold in a shop attached to the school, and the proceeds of their sale are paid back to them in the form of a small salary. In addition to teaching, teachers also produce beautiful pottery and the proceeds of their sale are used for the running of the school.

We recently visited this pottery school in Luxor and met some of the young potters who are part of the first generation of children, including Saber who is in the picture here above. Saber started with the school 8 years ago when he was 12. In the picture Saber is holding a couple of the beautiful pottery pieces he created. On the wall behind him, in the frame to the left, is a photograph of Saber when he had just started at the school.

Children of The Gourna Pottery School