With the annual tree planting event on January 16th upon us, HAF used the opportunity to evaluate the past three planting seasons. HAF wishes to constantly grow and change for the better and part of this process is learning from the different of outcomes.
Within the scope of the evaluation of Sami’s Project we visited 15 schools in the Rhamna and Al Haouz provinces. Our goal was to evaluate whether Sami’s Project met its three main objectives:
1. Environmental education of children: Students should learn about an eco-friendly approach to breaking the cycle of poverty, and should be encouraged to preserve their natural environment.
2. Conservation of nature: Planting trees should counteract deforestation and soil erosion.
3. Income generation: Fruits should increase the income of rural families and help them to produce beyond subsistence agriculture.
We found that the children enjoyed the tree planting event and vividly remember the day. The tree planting event enriched the rural curriculum and equipped the students with knowledge about the benefits of trees and green development. Seeing the glance in the children’s eyes when they talked about the tree planting event gave me great joy. It struck me that all students included trees after we asked them to draw their dream school.
Obviously, they value trees highly and could even give multiple reasons why trees are beneficial for example for clean air, shadow and a welcoming atmosphere. Furthermore, the students and teachers expressed a demand for more fruit and forest trees, as well as herbs and flowers in order to enhance the welcoming atmosphere at schools even more.
Most of the schools care well for the trees, however there can be a water problem in the summer. Building wells would address this problem and would benefit the whole community. We detected some cases where the trees died due to water shortages. We also found in cases that new principals were not aware of the High Atlas Foundation due to their recent hiring, or when the contact person for HAF left the school. Therefore, thorough monitoring and control is essential, as HAF is dedicated to do.
Communication and training is highly important to increase the positive impact of Sami’s Project. Involving parents associations, teachers, students and the HAF to a combined force, will strengthen contacts and therefore benefit the community as a whole. The High Atlas Foundation will continue to monitor Sami’s Project carefully and motivate the participants to show sufficient self-commitment via special training sessions and community meetings. This will thereby better guarantee that the trees will grow to be strong and healthy. Simultaneously, communities are already getting trained to raise their voice and participate in projects in order to change their environment for the better.
One example of how community efforts can make an extraordinary change is the Boaaza school outside of Marrakech. They started with just one class room, no wall, no toilets and no trees. The HAF helped to build separate bathrooms for boys and girls and planted fruit trees (funded by Katharine L’Heureux at Kahina Giving Beauty). Two years later these trees have grown to be strong and already produced fruits. The profits of this fruits will help the school to build another classroom in the future.
Overall, it was a great pleasure to see the literal fruits of HAF’s hard work over the past years and to learn from the past three years will make our project even more sustainable.
We hope that you give to expand Sami’s Project with schoolchildren in marginalized communities in Morocco.
Benefits of Sami’s Project:
· Students gained extensive knowledge about the benefits of trees for green development and their environment
· Trees created an inviting atmosphere in the schools
· Once mature, the trees will create income, clean air and shadow and counteract soil erosion and deforestation
Reasons why the project has been less successful in some schools:
· Lack of water, especially during summer, due to lack of wells
· More communication and training needed to ensure proper fostering of trees
By Kerstin Opfer
Kerstin is HAF Intern from Cologne, Germany. During her previous travels in Morocco, she witnessed first-hand how climate change and extensive agricultural practices are endangering Morocco’s ecosystem. Inspired by this experience and propelled to apply her biological knowledge, she decided to intern at the High Atlas Foundation. Interning at HAF is an amazing opportunity for her to work in an intercultural and interdisciplinary environment.