High Atlas Foundation

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) is a Moroccan association and a U.S. 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 2000 by former Peace Corps Volunteers, and is dedicated to participatory grassroots human development in disadvantaged areas in Morocco, mostly rural. HAF received United Nations Special Consultative Status in 2011. HAF's team is comprised mostly of Moroccans with some international members. Using a participatory approach, HAF works to establish development projects in Morocco that local communities design and manage, and that are in partnership with government and non-government agencies. HAF is committed to facilitating, and training facilitators in, the participatory approac...
Dec 2, 2013

HAF to Plant 1 Millionth Tree with Schoolchildren

Dr. Rachid El Kouhen, Sami's father, recently reflected on the transformational work of Sami's project:

"Franklin Roosevelt said; “We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.”  Sami's Project encourages children to be their own advocates for education through the participatory approach that gives them a stake in their education...a few years down the road, today’s kids will be looking around and be proud of the amazing work and impact they had on their schools, communities, regions, and country as whole.  By the same token, Sami’s project is providing trees as a tool for growth and development of these kids into responsible and steward generation."

Sami's project is an important element of HAF's organic agirculture initiative, the One Million Tree Campaign. On 16th January 2014 we will celebrate the success of this campaign in various locations throughout Morocco. Over ten years, we estimate to have helped 50,000 people make the step out of poverty. The project is poised to continue indefinitely, at an accelerated pace, with 500,000 young trees expected to be planted in 2014 alone, many of which will be planted with schoolchildren.

The planting of HAF's One Millionth Fruit Tree will occur in eight provinces simultaneously where HAF currently has projects: Al Haouz, Azilal, Boujdour, Essaouira, Ifrane, Rhamna, Taroudant, and Taza. As a part of Sami’s project, this event will be celebrated with schoolchildren, and the millionth tree will be planted in school yards as symbol of commitment for this generation and the next to take care of our earth and find sustainable methods for our lives.

Thanks to you, schoolchildren and community members benefit from environmental knowledge and trainings, and are given the tools to break the cycle of poverty. Every donation received until the January 16th planting event will provide additional trees to be planted on this day, and will enable us to expand the scope of this transformative project. 

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Nov 27, 2013

Empowerment Through Experiential Learning

The High Atlas Foundation believes that experiential training is key in effective capacity-building. At the Center for Community Consensus and Sustainable Development, the HAF team builds knowledge of sustainable development through applied activities. As an integral part of the Hassan II University, the Center provides ongoing workshops to transfer skills in effective development management, project implementation and technical maintenance, and fundraising. 

HAF volunteer Zaynab spent time with students, CSOs and officials trained at Hassan II University and learned about the method of participatory development that HAF and its generous supporter promote: development through empowerment: Ownership and control of the development process rests in the hands of beneficiaries who are capable and willing.

Zaynab reflected on her time spent with the HAF team and project participants:

"A month ago, participatory development was the title of a chapter in my development textbook, the name of a series of lectures I had attended at university, or the topic of an essay I had written; just theory. Nonetheless, it was a theory that I had been told worked. It is said that ‘seeing is believing’ and after a month of interning with the Center for Community Consensus-Building and Sustainable Development, I am convinced not only of the fact that participatory development works, but that it promotes true sustainable development: the ultimate goal of any development initiative."

Thanks to the generous support from our volunteers and donors, HAF is able to increase the scope and impact of our community-initiated projects. On behalf of the HAF team and the many students, CSOs and officials who benefit from this training program, thank you for your contribution. 

Nov 18, 2013

Looking ahead to a new preservation project...

US Consul General Attends the Conference
US Consul General Attends the Conference

Thank you to all of our supporters who enabled us to make such great progress with our Cemetery Preservation initiative! As this project comes to a close, we are happy to report that we achieved our goals for 2013 and are excited to start work on new cultural preservation projects in Essaouira.

On Tuesday 1 October, 2013 the High Atlas Foundation held a closing conference to present the results of its one-year long cemetery preservation and education program in this small port town on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast.

HAF was honored that the US Consul General, Mr. Brian Shukan, visited Essaouira to deliver the keynote speech at the conference. He described the project as "a testament to the cooperation between the United States and Morocco." 

Thanks to our generous donors, this project resulted in:

  • The rehabilitation of three cemeteries; the Christian, new Jewish and Muslim Chouhadda cemeteries including clearing, planting, guardian training and restoration activities;
  • The integration of over 400 local young people in a program of educational presentations, visits to the cemeteries and participatory educational activities;
  • Capacity building of over 120 members of civil society organizations;
  • The cataloguing of the epitaphs, gathering of historical knowledge from the cemeteries and the creation of a self-guided brochure for visitors to the cemeteries;
  • The creation of sustainable partnerships for the development of further activities in the field of cultural preservation.

As this cemetery preservation project comes to an end, we now turn to new cultural preservation projects in Essaouira. Maintaining our focus on the long history of interreligious and multicultural peace and prosperity in the region, we are working with local partners to identify 3 religious sites, 1 Muslim, 1 Christian, and 1 Jewish for renovation and rehabilitation, as we usher in the next phase of our cultural preservation initiative. 

Students help clean the cemetery
Students help clean the cemetery

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