Ifrane Nursery Progress

By Lloyd Farley 

In the field of development it is not often when you can see so much happen in just one day. A lot of the  projects consist of behind the scenes work that yields undramatic, yet important results. However, today is a day in which significant progress has been made. As a result of our awesome partners with the Salam school, local government and Ecosia we were able to make significant progress in transforming a dusty hill into an even, flat field with good soil ready for planting. Additionally, This newly transformed field will be the home of our second tree nursery in Ifrane!
Transforming the land in the way that we did is part and parcel of sustainable agriculture. Slopes are deadly to productive soils and exaggerate erosion. With our work soil erosion will be significantly mitigated and the soil quality will be protected and other natural resources, such as water will not go to waste. With the proper investments in the land, the land is certain to repay us in kind with fertile and productive soils! 
Speaking of natural resources, we also cemented the top of the well that we will be drawing from to irrigate the nursery. The cement will allow for us to install a pump and will ensure the safety of the students who will be undoubtably running around the schoolyard. 
Without the help of our wonderful staff and partners progress like this would not be possible and the vision of a sustainable future would be a little less complete.
-Lloyd Farley is a 3rd year anthropology student at the University of Texas at Austin 

Sami’s Project to empower kids

10 years reflection – by Sami’s Father


This year we commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Sami’s passing.  We continue to remember his smile, love and beautiful memories within us and through the thousands of kids impacted by Sami’s Project.  The planting and distribution of trees with children is the foundation of Sami’s Project.  It empowers kids by providing a feeling of belonging, love, and respect.  It teaches kids a sense of initiative and increases their enthusiasm for learning.  Through the participatory approach, Sami’s project delivers transformational and sustainable benefits to often poor and neglected youth in Morocco.


Sami’s Project was initiated in 2011, and since, it has been well received by kids, schools and communities.  It has gained ground, year after year, in provinces across Morocco.  Thanks to the relentless work of the HAF and the help of Moroccan officials, schools, and volunteers, Sami’s Project has reached out to thousands of kids across Morocco from Oujda to Boujdour.


As a community, we want to see our children grow into strong leaders to develop and nurture our communities further. Education and the importance of pursuing post-secondary education are vital to the development of our children and the community. However, there are many barriers that limit access to post-secondary education, especially in rural areas of Morocco. This is where we, the HAF/Sami’s Project, come in.


By looking at all of the present barriers in rural areas in Morocco, Sami’s Project is narrowing the scope on these issues to help facilitate kids and their families through these processes. We want to provide solutions for families through existing resources, and one in particular is the kid’s self-awareness and development.  Through participatory approach, Sami’s project has engaged thousands of kids and hundreds of schools and communities toward a common goal for development of our kids, as well as their economical, health and environmental prospects.  Engaging our children earlier on is the only way to ensure that future generations will continue to flourish into a stronger and healthier community.


While Sami’s Project has in the just last year has worked with more than 20 communes, 50 schools and 8,800 students, nothing speaks about the value of the project like the stories of these specific students. For example, Nabil is a 10 years old kid, studying in primary school in a rural area  in Morocco. Nabil was a priceless surprise during the project evaluation. He is a highly motivated student that struggles with the challenges of being deaf and mute and has became involved in the planting event this last 16th January, and that was the first time that school benefited from SAMI's Project.


As Nabil’s teachers told us, he is a brilliant student and the environmental education of Sami’s Project has provided him with even more things for him to learn. He loves the trees that he has helped plant. SAMI's project was a wonderful surprise for him. The HAF gave more than 80 trees such as almonds, olive, pomegranate and fig to the school where Nabil is studying. His excimentment for being involved in planting the trees was clear which, by the way, are even bigger and greener now. Nabil is still taking care of the trees and watering them, and encourages the other students to continue doing a great job.


We received a priceless smile coming deep from Nabil's heart when we gave him a certificate of appreciation for his active work and his big support to SAMI's project. However, Nabil is just one of the many examples of the driven students that we have worked with.


We with Sami’s Project also helped to transform an all girls boarding school, and these transformations were in more ways than just one. Just last January we provided an environmental workshop for the students of the boarding school, where the students had the opportunity to share with us the vision that they had for the school. Most importantly these girls wanted to be a part of that transformation. For the first time they were given the opportunity to plant the trees themselves. In addition to bring changes in the live’s of the students, their work has radically changed much of the space around the school into a place filled with vibrant greenery!


The process is an ongoing one. We are constantly reevaluating our progress with the help of the students. For example, the original trees we planted included only fruit trees and now the students are finding that they want to also increase the trees to include medicinal plants. The excitement and involvement from these students is a testament to the positive changes being made in the environment around the school and the lives of the girls inside of the school.


The success of Sami’s Project is due to a number of factors, from the constant efforts of the HAF, staff and volunteers, to the warm welcome and support to Sami’s initiative by Moroccan officials, schools and communities, and last but not least, the generous monetary support of many people around the world that is critical to the success of Sami’s Project.  All of these factors are focusing on children’s development in systematic and sustainable approach. 


We are so thankful to all these parties for embracing Sami’s Project and marching together in this exciting journey.  It’s a project where we all win, and will continue to honor Sami’s love and life, by reaching out to new kids and areas across Morocco.  This work would have not been possible without your commitment and support.  It is greatly appreciated.



Dr. Rachid El Kouhen, Sami’s father






HAF’s future project in Youssoufia


Errachid Montassir

HAF Project manager


Among the upcoming projects with communities in Morocco, HAF is seeking to create a big industrial unit in the Youssoufia province. The unit will be a big factory of apple cider vinegar.  The province is strong in terms of human resource and other resources, but in terms of factories and industrial units, it is not strong.


On July 13th, HAF’s members and one expert from the USA went to Youssoufia, first to attend a conference, and then to hold a meeting with associations, cooperatives and the population for a workshop about the future project.


In those beautiful streets in the OCP neighborhood, there is a Center named "Youssoufia Skills" which houses conferences and many programs for the youth population. In that Center, we met the director and some members who welcomed the HAF team. Then we talked a bit about the project’s business plan and other HAF projects in regards to sustainable development.


It was also a chance to meet the official spokesman of OCP Foundation: Mr. Yossef Allaoui, as well as other members of the international youth foundation.


The two last foundations presented a training program called "I-Grow", a program for the future youth entrepreneurs, especially from rural populations, to lead their business.


During the question and answer part of the conference, the vice president of the High Atlas Foundation, Mr. Larbi, came up with an important question about climate change directed to OCP Foundation. The question was approximately, “are there any upcoming projects about sensitization for the population to deal with this problem of climate change”?


Mr. Yossef Allaoui responded that there was already a lot of meetings about climate change risks and providing objectives and comprehensive information on climate change. But, that is only for the population in the city. However, HAF is going working with the population in the rural areas, and Mr. Yossef said that we will work in partnership with HAF on this climate change project in rural areas.


After this conference, we went to a workshop with more than 18 people, different associations, and cooperatives in Youssoufia province.


The workshop used a participatory approach, which is HAF's way to figure out the future projects and needs.  This specific approach was for finding out the optimal location for the apple cider vinegar factory. And naturally that information will come from the people right there.


For me, it was my first time doing a workshop, which was easier to do than I thought, because I have been in many HAF's workshops. So I was really excited to meet those kind people. I represented HAF and I was surprised that they already knew about the Foundation in terms of the environmental work. I talked to them about the future project and reiterated the general goals behind it, which were:


    - Create work opportunities for both men and women  


    - Improve on the region's economy.


    - Encourage people to plant more trees.


    - Come with a new product to the local markets, and work with the international markets at the same time.


    - Produce an organic product.


The final product, the apple vinegar, has many health advantages:


    - Can kill many types of bacteria.


    - Lowers blood sugar levels and fights diabetes.


    - Helps you lose weight by making you feel full.


    - Lowers cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease. (...)


And it's very tasty in food and salads.


We started the workshop with three groups, and in each group were people from different communes. So first they drew the community map of Youssoufia, which was represented by the blue color and the green was for the appropriate places of the factory.


After 10 minutes, we moved to the next step in the workshop which was for presenting the results; One person from each group did that, and he explained why they chose those places exactly. They suggested 5 places in the total:


- Sidi Ahmed


- Alkhwalka


- Sidi Chigar


- Ras Elain


- Assbiaat


After the elections and the sorting out the results turned out that the Sidi Ahmed commune is the best place to create the factory, because there is a good source of water and enough youth potential, and Sidi Ahmed is a center of all those communes.


We ended the workshop with a long discussion about this upcoming HAF's project in that province, and we also talked about how we should continue working together to achieve future success between HAF and population in Youssoufia.


Many associations expressed their pleasure to work with the HAF in the future, as the Foundation is also very excited to work with them.


The apple cider vinegar project in Youssoufia is just an example of many of HAF's upcoming projects with our communities in our kingdom of Morooco.



Eid Mubarak in Tassa Ouirgane


Celebrating the end of Ramadan in a rural village and planning the future of Tassa Ouirgane.


Today was the Eid, the celebration signalling the end of Ramadan, so that means no more fasting! In the morning I went and observed the prayer from a distance, because I didn’t want to interrupt their religious ceremony. Even from a distance this was an impressive sight: all the men of the village had gathered in open air to pray, asking Allah to bring them fortune and prosperity in the future. For this occasion they were all dressed in white robes, making them very easy to spot against the reddish background of the mountains. After the prayer had finished, everyone made their way back to their homes and families for a day of feasting with loved ones. Back in my home the breakfast-table was a clear reflection of this celebratory state: special sweets, pancakes, honey and other treats were shared with the extended family dropping by during the course of the day.



Seeing how the Eid called everyone back to their families and their childhood homes, the douars in the valley were filled with young people who had migrated to the big cities in search of employment. Earlier that morning I had run into a new contact that could speak both English and French named Hafid. He normally worked in Marrakech for a travel agency, but he had also come back to his parental home in order to spend the feast with his family. He helped me in calling together the men from the association of Tassa Ouirgane in order for us to go over the project that was about to start.


Whereas I thought this would be a casual, informal get together, the room soon filled up with about half of the men from the village. During the meeting Si Mohammed, the president of the organisation, and several other members voiced concerns regarding the nursery-component of the project. While they were still enthusiastic about the gabions, solar pump, well and basin, they feared the nursery would miss its intended effect in the valley.


Seeing how the goal of the High Atlas Foundation is to support communities in their self-development, it will never go through with a project that does not enjoy the full support of the local population. The Participatory Approach was used to help the community form the idea of installing a nursery, but needs can change over time and projects can be adapted. We agreed to set up a new community meeting. This way, a solution will be found that enjoys full community support and can bring about lasting change.



Meeting with the association for the development of Tassa Ouirgane.


When concluding our get together, the trademark Moroccan hospitality immediately reared his head and I was invited to share a meal with the people from the organisation. Seeing how it was still the Eid, the town was bursting with young people that I had never seen before and with who I could communicate in French and English. Some of them were very busy printing diplomas for the soccer tournament they had organised for the children of the valley, which would be handed out during celebrations the next few days. Others were telling me about their jobs, ranging from a call centre to working as bodyguard for a Polish prince. After a delicious tajine and interesting conversations I headed home, exhausted but satisfied after a productive day in the valley.




HAF Hosts Community Meetings in the Marrakesh Mellah

Community Meetings at the Marrakech Mellah

Having started during the holy month of Ramadan, the High Atlas Foundation is hosting a series of community meetings in the Mellah neighborhood of Marrakech to prioritize local needs and establish a path for a sustainable future. 

In coordination with the Mimouna Foundation, Jewish Community of Marrakech, Region of Marrakech-Sofi and the Bahia neighborhood, HAF hosted a series of traditional Moroccan breaks of fast with the local community in order to foster participatory development action. 

Immediately following these interfaith meals at the Slat Lazama synagogue, local residents and organization leaders developed plans to achieve new projects - in clean drinking water, education and building revitalization. HAF implements grassroots development initiatives that community beneficiaries determine and manage.  

HAF and Partners Facilitate Renewal of the Historic Marrakech Mellah

Over traditional Iftor meals during Ramadan, HAF, Association Mimouna, Jewish Community of Marrakech and the Region of Marrakech-Sofi brought together community members throughout the Mellah at the Slat Lazama Synagogue to collectively discuss the community’s needs and their hopes for the future.

“What we are talking about are not luxuries, they are simple human rights. We want to have access to water to drink, we want a school for our kids to attend, we want a hospital that we can go to when we are sick, and we want police in our neighborhood that ensure our security. I do not think that this is asking for too much, all other neighborhoods in Marrakesh have these things; why don’t we?” asked one community member.  

Community members highlighted that while there was once “no difference between the Jews and the Muslims who lived here,” the community now struggles with a significant lack of resources. Fatiha, a local mother said: “The kids here don’t have many choices; the schools are nonexistent, and they do not trust the local authorities. There are no jobs and they are in the streets all day, they all are turning to drugs and alcohol to forget their struggles. I do not know what we can do.”

In order to attempt to mitigate some of these significant problems, Amina, a facilitator with the High Atlas Foundation, led a series of community activities aimed at mapping what the community looks like now, how it once was, and what it requires to improve for the future. Community members presented their plans to the rest of the group, focusing around the lack of renovation and the need for social services.
In particular, community members emphasized the need for infrastructure improvements: “We have a hospital, but there are no beds in it,” and further they emphasized, “our houses are full of mold and they are falling apart.” Without this infrastructural renovation, the Mellah is suffering. Moreover, community members also highlighted that, “every other neighborhood in Marrakesh has a police force, they stop drugs from being given out, and they also arrest thieves. Here both of those things run wild.” As the Mellah has become more marginalized in Moroccan society, it has lacked the most basic resources to provide for its citizens.
The conversations continued to lead back to the need for the most basic infrastructure amelioration. With little access to running water, the discussions continued to return to the notion that they must first and foremost increase access to water and establish standards that ensure the hygiene of water. Yet, this prioritization just touches at the surface of the Mellah’s needs. While they hope to establish a system of clean water, they are also adamant that the community needs renovations that can bring it back to the center of vitality that it once was.

The High Atlas Foundation is moved and inspired by the conversations occurring at the Mellah and hopes to truly help increase the living standards with the people living in the Mellah. Moreover, HAF ensures that any help it offers to human development occurs through the participatory approach, empowering the community members of the Mellah to implement their solutions. 

Planning, partnership-building, proposal development all continue.  We are committed to the Mellah's community development vision.

To learn more about these meetings and about HAF's role, check out this video and the blog posts below.

Blog on the Mellah Participatory Experience

Pictures | HAF video | National press | Article on Moroccan interfaithEnglishArabic and French | Give to this Project

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HAF tweets

HafFdtn RT @treepieter: Just finished project visit in Morocco, great dedicated team from @HafFdtn working here closely with the communities! https…
HafFdtn New blog post about the progress of HAF's Ifrane nursery up now on our site!
HafFdtn My week on Twitter 🎉: 8 New Followers, 1 Mention, 50 Mention Reach, 5 Favorited, 1 Retweet. See yours with
HafFdtn As part of the partnership between the HAF and Ecosia, members of Ecosia visited HAF projects like sites of the community tree nurseries.
HafFdtn Dr. Rachid El Kouhen, Sami's father, wrote a touching letter dedicated to Sami's project and the initiatives work
HafFdtn With the Abdelazizz Ben Driss Child Protection Center in Fes, HAF is assisting teenage youth with planting an organic fruit tree nursery
HafFdtn Errachid, one of our project managers, wrote an interesting blog post about HAF's future project in Youssoufia!
HafFdtn We are proud to announce that High Atlas Foundation has officially partnered with the Abdelazizz Ben Driss Child Protection Center in Fes

HAF in Morocco

High Atlas Foundation
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Directions to HAF Marrakech Office


High Atlas Foundation
High Atlas Foundation 332 Bleecker Street, #K110, NEW YORK, NY 10014

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