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Turning Numbers into Stories

Updated: Aug 18

Hope Weiner

HAF Volunteer Fes Legal Clinic, May 2023

Yoga training class with student clinicians, Mai 2023. Photo: HAF

We all have the ability to improve someone else’s life every day. This can be as simple as flashing a smile to a stranger on an overcrowded bus or supporting a local childrens’ sports team. However, there are also ways to strategically improve the lives of many people through participating in organized projects. The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) is mobilizing communities to implement projects that increase equitable access to Morocco’s legal services. Projects on this scale, however, require a larger investment of resources in order to provide the services and programs included.

Many of HAF’s projects rely on the generosity and support of foreign donors. Because these organizations do not always have the opportunity to see such projects firsthand, the donors rely heavily on what grant applications and interim reports to understand the vision, mission, progress, and impact of a project. Ultimately, much like the beautiful carpets that flank the narrow alleys of Fes’ famous Medina, the job of a good project coordinator is to weave words and numbers together to bring the project to life on the page.

In Fes, I had the amazing opportunity to support HAF’s Legal Clinic in Fes –the Clinique Juridique de la Faculté de Droit (CIFD) – by drafting a grant proposal for a new project in Oujda and supporting PHD Students and Clinic Volunteers from the Legal Clinic at Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah in Fes with understanding the fundamentals of proposal writing and reporting.

The session, which was part of a very full enrichment seminar that the students attended during the second week of May, was Co-Led by Sara El Ouedhiri,a PHD student, and one of the leaders on the Legal Team. The group of some 20 students were given a briefing about the basic structure and reasoning behind grant proposal content and project updates before being divided into four groups to engage in a practical exercise to simulate the planning process.

Grant-writing training delivered by Hope Weiner with student clinicians, Mai 2023. Photo: HAF

The purpose of the practical exercise was to demonstrate the importance of integrating and applying writing and reasoning skills to a standard project proposal. I can happily declare that these students “ROCKED IT” (I am from New York, after all! And proper English is a stretch for me too) as they not only quickly understood the reasoning but went the extra mile (or kilometer) and came up with innovative variations on projects to meet civic and social needs. After getting a chance to watch these students in action, I have no doubt these students are ready to make their communities a better place.


In order to be strong for others it is important to make sure you are taking care of yourself as well. The hardest thing about delivering services to vulnerable communities is that you cannot help everyone and sometimes you will fail. Regular volunteers from the legal clinic hear the hardest stories from clients who have experienced extreme situations that extend beyond Morocco’s borders. A consistent, simple yoga practice can give clinic practitioners, or even clients, an opportunity to literally pause and breathe when in the midst of a high stress situation to collect their thoughts, manage stress, and process difficult information.

At this point anyone might wonder what some random chick from New York City was doing in Fes in the first place. Well! I was there to teach yoga at a beautiful Riad in the city’s Medina and then came across HAF in late April when I realized my position at the Riad would allow me some time to volunteer during my stay. Two weeks after facilitating the grant writing workshop, I returned to the University to lead a short yoga program. This practice was filled with much needed laughter, and will hopefully be the first step for these future leaders and innovators to maintain their own equilibrium along the difficult path to social change.

Yoga training class with student clinicians, Mai 2023. Photo: HAF

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