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Ifrane Nursery Progress

 

 

By Lloyd Farley 

HAF Inter, Fes 

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 undoubtedly running around the schoolyard. 

 

Without the help of our wonderful staff and partners, especially Ecosia, progress like this would not be possible and the vision of a sustainable future would be a little less complete.

HAF’s future project in Youssoufia

 

By Erracid Montassir 

HAF Project Manager- Marrakesh 

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 work as a 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.

 

Start of my immersive experience in Tassa Ouirgane

 

 

 

 

By Jan Thibaut

HAF Intern, Graduate Student in International Development

 

So, there it was, the big day has finally arrived! On May 19th I bade Marrakech adieu and made the big move to the little village, Tassa Ouirgane, to be immersed in the Tashelhit language and culture. Together with the ever-so-helpful Amina, we had managed to find me a family willing to open their doors and arms to me during my assignment in the vallée d’Azzaden. Armed with some intensive Darija-courses fresh in the back of my mind, and accompanied by Si Larbi and Si Hassan, I arrived at Dar A Zrge.

Up until that point, I had only been given two pieces of information about the place I will be calling home for the next two months. Number one: the father of the household would be named Ahmed, and number two: they would have a son that could speak some French and that would be there occasionally. This son turned out to be Mustafa, who was still working in a restaurant in Marrakech and who would be arriving the next day. The rest of the family was present when we arrived around noon, and gave us a traditional Moroccan welcome: sweet mint tea, olives and olive oil, tenurt (bread baked in a traditional clay oven), and a chicken and lemon tajine. Following tradition, the women and children ate separately from the men, as we were outsiders from the family household. My introduction to the rest of the family would have to wait until later, while the three of us had dinner with Si Ahmed and talked about the house, the village, and his farm.

After lunch it was time for Si Hassan and Si Larbi to continue their journey to another community which HAF is working with, so I began my new life in Tassa by meeting my new family. Fatima was by far the one that stood out the most by her infectious laughter and twinkling eyes. She’s the mother of the family, always dressed in bright colours and seemingly balancing twenty tasks simultaneously, the true master of the household. Next up, here two children who were there that day: Abdeltif and Hadidjah. Abdelfin is the family’s youngest, an eleven-year-old boy with a bright mind and youthful energy blazing through him. Hadidjah is a quieter, more held back member of the family, charged with cooking amazing tajines and helping her mother run the household. Lastly, there is the elderly mother of Ahmed. Age has played its part on her, dulling her reactions and causing her to move, eat and speak with great effort. Although our interactions remain very limited, we give each other kind smiles and friendly words of greeting and small talk.

At the end of that first day I went for an evening stroll to explore my surroundings, when I stumbled upon a group of little girls from the village. Even though they were already running around, giggling and grabbing each other to start with, all of this multiplied tenfold when they saw me arriving. They joined me on my walk, which became dominated by them yelling their names, waving, whispering in their friend’s ear, and us changing the few words I knew in Darija for the few words in French they had learned at school. A little bit later it became clear to me where the boys of the community were hanging out: they were playing a football game down the road, on a dusty field surrounded by beautiful mountains bathing in the last light of a breath taking sunset.  I don’t know what this experience will bring me yet, but I do know that I will live it to the fullest!

 

 

BIO: Blog entry documenting my arrival in my new home in the High Atlas village of Tassa Ouirgane, and meeting my Moroccan family.

A Statement of Congratulations to our friends at Ecosia!

By Lloyd Farley

Marrakech

 

Our friends and partners at Ecosia have just met a wonderful landmark and we are happy to have been a part of their wonderful project. Just yesterday the folks at Ecosia celebrated planting ten million trees and we were happy to join over livestream from Morocco.

 

For those who do not know, Ecosia is a search engine that pledges to plant a tree each time someone makes a search. It is an ingenious method that enables people to make a difference in the world even as they go about their daily routine in the office, classroom or at home.

 

We with High Atlas Foundation in Morocco are glad to say that we have seen the difference that the users and proprietors of Ecosia are bringing to the world with our very own eyes. Just as Ecosia is present in several cotenants helping plant trees, we have started our very own nurseries with the support of Ecosia. The partnership with Ecosia has enabled us with the High Atlas Foundation to continue our projects of extending hands on green education with school children, creating environmental benefits through tree planting and enhancing the incomes of rural incomes by planting high value fruit trees. From our perspective, we know that each tree is making a difference, given the global reach of Ecosia, we can only imagine the scale of their impact.

 

Once again, we would like congratulate and thank the folks at Ecosia and the crucial work they are doing in connecting a global community to the needs of our planet and the people that live on it.

 

 

 -The writer is a third year Anthropology student from the University of Texas at Austin and intern with the High Atlas Foundation.

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