Updated: Jul 12
By Ikbale Bouziane HAF Field Coordinator
Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir was invited on December 22 to give a talk on tree planting, human development, and the overall experience of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) as a pioneer organization in the Moroccan non-profit scene.
We were received by Marrakech’s Elaraki International School’s principal and the president of the TED-Ed club, Aya, who enthusiastically introduced the club she is presiding over, and expressed her and her fellow schoolmates’ interest in learning more about the organizations that make a positive impact on Moroccan society. From our short talks with other students, we noticed how talented and willing they are to take matters into their own hands and have a say in everything that takes place in their surrounding environment. They are aware and proactive.
Dr. Yossef was given the floor, and he told the “Story of a Tree.” To the students’ surprise, this was not merely about a tree that was planted, grew, and bore fruit. It was an inspiring talk about the unbreakable links between people and between us and the land. Dr. Yossef elaborated on the projects monitored and carried out by HAF and how those can be great examples for youth who are intrigued by their future and what it will bring.
The students were invited to reflect on the question: What is in your heart? What is it that you desire the most? Silence reigned in the amphitheater for a while before it was pierced by a hesitant “Happy, I want to be happy, comfortable!” When asked by Dr. Yossef about what could make her happy, the student responded, in a more confident tone this time, “money!” Everyone laughed, and timidly agreed with their schoolmate’s bold answer.
This answer encouraged Dr. Yossef to elaborate on the process of defining a dream and how brave, emotional, exhaustive, weakening yet strengthening this process can be. He shared more information on IMAGINE, the self-discovery workshops that follow rural women as they grow personally by assisting them in finding their voices, achieving their dreams, and attaining a future that they themselves define. Part of these women’s dream is to be in charge of their own lives, achieve financial independence by implementing their knowledge of the land and agricultural activity. Hence, the “Story of A Tree,” planted by an aspiring woman, or a detained teenage boy, in one of the partner children protection centers, or a curious volunteer coming from faraway.
Belief, gratitude, hope, selfless giving, and energy is what is encapsulated in the “Story of A Tree.” From a person’s miraculous story of self-discovery, HAF and its partners’ joint efforts to facilitate the aforementioned process, the kindness and generosity of the Jewish community and the Waters and Forests Department, to the favorable laws in Morocco, youth were lead to understand that everything has to be built and looked after in order to yield results.
The “Story of A Tree,” is one that naturally applies to human beings, inspiring them to have faith, collaborate, and be resilient to bear fruits of compassion, understanding, plurality and peace.