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 30, 2014

A successful start to the Bernard Mejean Fund!

Thank you to our incredible Global Giving donors for such a successful start to the Bernard Mejean Fund for Girls’ Education! In 3 months, we have raised $6,275, bringing us a third of the way to our $20,000 goal!

Your generous contribution is supporting a program that currently provides tutoring lessons for 5 high school students in Taza Province. Our dedicated mentor and coordinator of the program, Hanan, is preparing these students (from disadvantaged homes) to do well in their high school courses and exams, leading them on a path towards college entry.

The High Atlas Foundation, with support from community partners, is developing a service-learning program for students to volunteer their time with local non-profit organizations, including with the local orphanage and homeless shelter. This volunteer program prepares students for a promising future by developing their professional skills and engaging them with the associations that provide human services to their communities.

Furthermore, we are identifying university programs that provide high school students the opportunity to participate in youth development forums hosted at the university. During these university visits, students meet with faculty, tour campuses, and start thinking about their future professional paths.

Two individuals have made a critical difference in this education program and scholarship fund. Wahiba Estergard (born and raised in Taza), is helping to ensure the success and expansion of this education and experiential training initiative. Our sincerest gratitude to Bruno Mejean and his family and friends, who have created this fund in memory of his brother Bernard to help expand high school student participation, particularly among young women. This fund ensures that they have the best chance of excelling and entering into university programs that will enable them to determine and achieve their dreams.

Through their generosity and the support of our Global Giving donors, the High Atlas Foundation is currently searching for promising and dedicated young girls in HAF’s current project areas in different municipalities in Morocco to provide them with the services and opportunities given by this fund.  

Jan 7, 2014

HAF to Create New Women's Co-Ops in 2014

To all our generous Global Giving donors, we wish you the best for this new year. 2014 promises to be an exciting time for HAF with new projects in agriculture, youth projects, and women's empowerment. After the success of the Tassa Ouirgane Women's Cooperative in 2013, HAF is excited to replicate this project in other provinces. 

After 10 months of participatory planning meetings, community members in Boujdour Province have identified a women's cooperative as a priority human development project. Pending funding, HAF will work with local field trainers and community leaders in Boujdour to get this new co-op off the ground in 2014. 

Women's Co-ops provide women with the skills to enter the socioeconomic sphere and increase household incomes. HAF's women's projects build self-esteem and promote the importance of gender equality in the workforce. By expanding this initiative to new provinces, HAF can provide thousands more with these opportunities. 

HAF is so thankful for the support we received in 2013 from local communities, partners, and individuals like you. We are confident that 2014 will bring great success and further development for HAF's Women's Co-Ops throughout Morocco. 

Dec 31, 2013

HAF to plant its 1 millionth tree Jan 16th

On 16th January 2014 a milestone event in the calendar of the High Atlas Foundation is scheduled to take place in various locations throughout Morocco, with the celebration of its successfully completed 'One Million Tree Campaign'. 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.

The planting of HAF's One Millionth Fruit Tree will occur at noon on 16th January 2014 in eight provinces simultaneously where HAF currently has projects: Al Haouz, Azilal, Boujdour, Essaouira, Ifrane, Rhamna, Taroudant, and Taza.

HAF encourages communities and associations to make their own tree planting events on this momentous occasion. Contact us about creating an event in your area and we will do our best to send organic trees conducive to your region.

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. We do this in memory of Sami El Kouhen who passed away from cancer at three years old.

As we approach this historic occasion, we are reminded of how far we’ve come since the inception of the HAF agriculture project in 2003. Each year this project has accelerated rapidly towards the One Million Tree goal, with 235,000 trees planted in 2013, capping four consecutive record-breaking years.

Land is made available by a variety of interested parties including the Moroccan High Commission for Water, Forests and Desertification Control, cooperatives, municipalities, women’s associations and the Jewish community of Marrakesh. We plant recognizing the High Atlas Foundation’s Peace Corps roots, with the Ouaouizerth of Azilal community where the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens served as a Volunteer, in southern Morocco remembering former Volunteer Kate Jeans-Gail and her mother Victoria, and in the north inspired by former Volunteer Tom Tolen – allah yarHamu, God rest their souls. We plant, with faith in the Moroccan people and in humanities future, and we will not stop.

Fruit seeds and saplings including carob, olive, pomegranate, almond and walnut are planted in nurseries managed entirely on organic lines. At the end of each project mature trees are distributed at the symbolic cost of 1 Moroccan Dirham (a fraction of their true market value) to the surrounding population, starting with the most marginalised. In this way the local and national economy is being developed through a variety of business initiatives, overseen initially by HAF. Crucially, the land management strategies put into place prevent erosion and desertification.

Ten years ago, we could only dream that the Campaign would blossom into a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty, strengthening the communities’ connection to local environmentalism to achieve socio-economic empowerment. Through HAF’s participatory approach, tree nurseries have lead to other human development projects: fruit tree plantations, women’s coops, local irrigation projects, youth empowerment and educational projects and much more. Each project improves confidence, income and socio-economic development in rural and often marginalized communities.

Initiatives inspired from the 1 Million Tree Campaign

Organic Certification: The HAF-initiated organic agriculture project spans the entire development process – from nurseries to market. HAF trains rural famers in organic agriculture techniques and empowers them with the skills to expand these projects. By securing organic certification, farmers are able to generate higher revenue for their produce.

High Atlas Agriculture and Artisanal (HA3): The HAF is in process of establishing an enterprise to manage the agriculture initiative. With 1 million trees planted, and millions more to come, this enterprise will unite rural farmers, allowing them to market their produce in the domestic and international market. HAF was recognized as 2013 SEED Award winners for this achievement in innovation, entrepreneurship and promising efforts to promote economic growth, social development and environmental protection in Morocco.

HA3 will distribute a portion of the net profit generated to family farmers for additional income. The remaining income will be directly reinvested in the community, by funding new human developed projects in education, health, and women’s and youth empowerment, initiatives identified and implemented by community members.

Zero Waste Commitment: The HAF has made a Zero Waste Commitment to account for the waste produced by these 1 million trees. Fruit trees produce agricultural waste, be it nut shells and hulls, or fallen leaves, the HAF has a plan to repurpose this waste.

What’s next?

In order to break subsistence agriculture, Morocco needs to plant billions of trees and plants (according to its own projections). HAF is proud to have contributed 1 million trees to this cause, and will continue to expand our agriculture project until we reach that next million. As profits from the sale of organic produce are reinvested in human development projects, HAF is confident that this project will continue to accelerate each year. It took us 10 years to plant our first million trees, help us plant the next million in 2 years! Community partners are ready, are you?

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