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Sami’s Project to Empower Kids – 10 years in

Updated: Jul 20

By Dr. Rachid El Kouhen, 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 too 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 of 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 the participatory approach, Sami’s project has engaged thousands of kids and hundreds of schools and communities toward a common goal for the development of our kids, as well as the economic, 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 a 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 become 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 excitement for being involved in planting the trees was clear which, by the way, is 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

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