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. HAFas 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...
Jan 3, 2013

Ready for Implementation - Ready to Plant

A view of the site
A view of the site


After much planning and preparing, we are on schedule for the implementation of the fruit tree nursery in Akraich of Amizmiz, outside of Marrakech in the Al Haouz province.  Architects have designed the layout of the nursery. The area has been cleaned out, approximately 50 truck loads of earth and fertilizer has been delivered and spread onto terraces. A drip system expert has joined the team and installation of the irrigation system is currently being installed, and the well is currently being deepened by about 50 meters.  
Surrounding communities are well engaged in the project, and the Moroccan Jewish community of Marrakech has been an excellent partner. In fact, we at HAF are signing contracts for two more parcels of land for community tree nurseries. 
When the planting is complete by February, we will send press releases (in English, French and Arabic) with the message of diverse partnership, shared prosperity, and unity.  With your help, we can utilize this new system and space to its full potential. This will literally chance the lives of community members, bringing them a sustainable source of income for the first time. 
President Yossef Ben-Meir onsite in Akraich
President Yossef Ben-Meir onsite in Akraich


Dec 28, 2012

Identifying Schools in Time for Planting Season

Space available behind the class rooms to plant
Space available behind the class rooms to plant

Ouafa Elbargui, the HAF’s Center Coordinator and Malika Kassi, the Field Facilitator have identified two schools; one is situated in Touama Rural Commune and the other one,Youssef Ben Tachafin School, belongs to Aghouatim Rural Commune, both of these Rural Communes are in  Al Haouz Province. The two schools are chosen to be planted by the High Atlas Foundation in respond to the request of their headmasters. The purpose of this first visit is to identify the school space, introducing the HAF and Sami’s Project objectives. 

It is a central elementary school which is situated  in a rural village named  Talat Marghen  which belongs to  the territory  of Aghouatim Rural Commune, Al Haouz Province. It is about 3 Km from the center of Tahanaout town. There are 291 students studying for this school year 2012/ 2013.

The school was selected for the reason that it has an adequate space for fruit tree planting, and the water is available for tree irrigation as well.  Thanks for all of your support so we can continue the growth and prepare for planting season, which begins in January. We hope to be able to send each student home with fruit producing trees. 

Check out the photos to see all the space available for planting. Our goal is to bring green space to all the schools, with your support. 

Large space for planting
Large space for planting
Play area for children in need of greening
Play area for children in need of greening


Dec 27, 2012

Training Students and Political Leaders

West African Student Leader works with peers
West African Student Leader works with peers

Wednesday was an amazing day.  A day full of possibilities and adventure for the HAF Interns we have been training, as well as for our professional staff.  The training was.  The High Atlas Foundation’s MEPI program in Mohammadia had its first large scale – 65 people – meeting and training (held in the main auditorium of the University of Hassan II with full approval of the Dean) in Community Development with both students and a number of Community Service Organization (CSO).  The latter were represented by the presidents of several your association.

The training, with lunch provided was supposed to start at 11:30. I started getting nervous when 12:30 rolled around and we only had 5 students and large amount of food had arrived!  But as if by magic by 12:45 or so the room was packed!  The students from the various faculties – law Science, and Technology came in groups in quick succession.  It was wonderful to see so many eager faces. Food was distributed and the Vice Dean – Dr. Salim OURYAGHLI -- was sent for as he had expressed a wish to address the student and CSO before the training got on the way. 

Dr Salim OURYAGHLI gave a rousing speech, short, but to the point and powerful.  He encouraged the audience to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity that HAF/MEPI was offering them.  An opportunity that would help them themselves and their communities to reach new heights in community participation and the development of helpful projects the community would choose.  He emphasized that the mastering of the techniques that would be taught to them by HAF would in fact be good for all of Morocco.  The audience gave him a strong ovation before he retired to his office to his extremely busy schedule.  HAF was honored that he had taken timeout of that very busy schedule to talk to the congregated students and CSOs.

Next the HAF Interns (HAFI), introduced themselves: their names, the places of origin, by explaining their place in the PD process, and how they hoped to assist those in the audience to begin to learn the same process.  Ms. Malika Kassi, who conducted the training for this session, introduced herself and had me introduce myself, and then explained what she was going to do for the remainder of the session.

Handouts were given to each member of the audience, in either Arabic or French according to their personal preference.  The handouts delineated the PD mission and process, and were clearly stamped as a MEPI.  

The audience was asked to stand and Ms. Kassi led them in an icebreaker: She would call out a world and each individual had to pantomime what the world meant to them.  For example when she called out the word “peace” many participants held up their fingers in a victory sign, some hugged another person, etc.    After the Icebreaker the audience was divided into four groups and the training began in earnest.  Each group was staffed by a HFAI who assisted them through the first exercise, under the direction of Ms. Kassi, and which consisted of defining a communities and subsequently mapping them.  The chosen “community” for the sake of this training was the University Hassan II itself. The students identified what they would like to see improved and created maps that reflected their impressions of the university.

For almost an hour the groups poured over their definitions and maps, then each group choose a representative to explain their conclusions to the other groups.

Because of time constrains, both by having had started so much later than the designated time, and because more than half of the students had to leave for a class, the training was stopped at that point.  Evaluation forms were handed out and those that stayed completed theirs and the students that had to leave for class gave their word that they would return the complete forms to the HAF Training Center.

Before any of the students left for class, a date was set for the next training session, Wednesday, December 26, from 11:30 to 2:00pm with lunch again being provided.  The audience enthusiastically endorsed their willingness to come to the next training on that date.

The HAFI have been asked to provide a full report of the training, pros and cons. Those reports will be combined and posted here also.

Thank you so much for your support for enabling this project. We are headed in the right direction, and with your support we can make a great community impact. 


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