Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge, and he...
Oct 11, 2011

Training Herbalist Researchers at Lalla Aouda

Analyzing interviews conducted by students.
Analyzing interviews conducted by students.

The rehabilitation of the gardens at the Lalla Aouda Saadia high school continues through ongoing discussions and coordination with local authorities, high school teachers, an association of the parents of the students, and students. This includes discussions with local authorities to have their support in order to facilitate the reports of the high school with the neighboring houses so that they are conscientious of the importance of the garden for the school, and with the Regional Academy of Education, Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, in order to have  permission to proceed with the rehabilitation of the garden.

In the meantime, effort to train students at Lalla Aouda as herbalist researchers has continued. Intern from Connecticut College, Joanna Smith, dedicated much time with the students from Lalla Aouda during her summer internship with Global Diversity Foundation (GDF). During this time, the students were further encouraged to be involved in the ethnobotanical study of five traditional women’s recipes. They received training on the use of a database containing the results of the field research previously conducted by thirty students from Lalla Aouda, who went into the Marrakech Medina to interview Marrakechi herbalists on important cultural recipes. All the traditional compositions collected in the field are available in the herbarium at the school, allowing the girls to re-examine, analyze, and discuss their own data. This is in line with the aim to build an educational framework at the school that allows students to explore their own city’s rich ethnobotanical traditions. Information from the database will published in a brochure for Lalla Aouda students and other residents of Marrakech.

Apart from this, several clean-up activities were carried out in September and October, funded in the majority and supervised by GDF, involving paid workers and aided by teachers of the school to clear rubbish that had accumulated in the school grounds over the years. These cleanup actions are helping to provide a safe space and conducive environment for the girls.

It is only with the support from its generous donors that GDF has been able to provide the opportunity to the students at the all-girls Lalla Aouda school to advance their appreciation and knowledge of the important uses of traditional plants, allowing them to discover, through this, a deeper understanding of their unique culture.

Joanna (back row, in black) having a discussion.
Joanna (back row, in black) having a discussion.

Links:

Jun 27, 2011

Building the Educational Framework

Trees waiting to be transplanted to the garden
Trees waiting to be transplanted to the garden

Since beginning the rehabilitation of the gardens at the Lalla Aouda Saadia high school, GDF and its partners have made great efforts to involve students, teaching staff and administration in the project. The success of the project thus far is demonstrated by the broad participation of school members on all levels. Led by their teachers, the girls have been contributing to each step of the project. While cleaning and tending to the gardens, they have been learning how to compost and identify plants.

In June, Global Diversity Foundation signed a partnership with an association at Lalla Aouda Saadia that aims to support school success, whose president is the headmaster at the school. This joint cooperation will help to facilitate the rehabilitation of the garden.

On 18 June, Charles Hamilton, who is conducting a Master study on the rehabilitation of green space around Lalla Aouda Saadia, presented his research to the school’s director, numerous students and representatives of a local organization.

As part of the ongoing Lalla Aouda Saadia school garden project, GDF is working on ethnobotanical education with the students. During the past academic year, thirty students conducted their own field research by interviewing Marrakechi herbalists about important cultural recipes. GDF is now organizing a database of the girls’ findings, titled, “An Ethnobotanical Study of Five Traditional Women’s Recipes.”  In the autumn of this year, the girls will be able to re-examine, analyze, and discuss their own data.  We hope that this will be the first of many such educational initiatives at Lalla Aouda Saadia.

Thanks to its generous donors, GDF has been able to not only lay the groundwork for Lalla Aouda Saadia’s gardens, but to build the educational framework that will allow students to explore their city’s rich ethnobotanical traditions.

Students pruning and weeding the garden
Students pruning and weeding the garden
Smiles are everywhere after a hard day
Smiles are everywhere after a hard day's work
Len Davis of Pangeality Productions capturing work
Len Davis of Pangeality Productions capturing work
Students label specimens collected for research
Students label specimens collected for research
Mar 25, 2011

Laying the groundwork at Lalla Aouda Saadia

The school campus before the big clean-up
The school campus before the big clean-up

Global Diversity Foundation, our project partner Aniko Boehler, and the students and staff at the Lalla Aouda Saadia School would like to extend our gratitude to the 68 donors who have supported the Educate 1300 Girls By Restoring A Marrakech Garden project to date. Thanks to you, work can begin on this community endeavor that will develop sustainably over the coming years – providing the school community with a learning environment that can nourish students body and soul.

Thorn trees planted long ago to surround the school have grown unchecked for years, creating areas that collect garbage and are unwelcome to the students. These photos highlight the recent improvements made by work crews hired to remove litter and trim overgrown trees. These initial efforts are essential to preparing the campus for the landscaping and planting that is to follow. 

While the grounds are being cleared of rubbish and prepared, Charles Hamilton, a graduate student in landscape architecture, is working with the school to draw up a garden plan that includes both ornamental and edible plants, and captures the rich cultural history of Marrakech. He has created a 3D computer model of the campus that will serve as the base structure for the proposed garden redesigns, as well as hand-drawn and computer sketches of the future garden.

In December, Len Davis of Pangeality Productions (http://www.pangealityproductions.com/home/), a video production company with a commitment to social justice, visited the Lalla Aouda Saadia Girls’ School to produce a documentary of the work that is underway. The short film, which is nearing completion, describes how the project came about and captures the perspectives of students and teachers on the revitalization of their campus.

We look forward to bringing the Lalla Aouda Saadia School garden to life with the students, and we will share our progress with you each step of the way. We welcome you to post comments and questions to our Wall. Please consider telling your friends and family about the project. We are just beginning this transformation, and we count on you to help make this garden a reality.

The school campus after the big clean-up
The school campus after the big clean-up
Designs based on zellij patterns -C. Hamilton 2011
Designs based on zellij patterns -C. Hamilton 2011
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