Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project

 
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Sep 3, 2013

Celebrating Morocco's Youth

21 August was Youth Day in Morocco. This article was written by Malika Kassi, HAF Project Manager, in tribute to Morocco's young people.

Community-driven and Participatory Development: Morocco’s Key to Sustainable and Equitable Growth

tree planting - Sami's projectOne of the things that I discovered and recognized during my experience with HAF is the concept of participatory contribution to sustainable development.  Although in my life the action of participating in good works and deeds have always been present, the concept of participatory development was not clear until I worked for HAF. Now I experience the beauty of this concept every day in my life. Participation is the fastest way to change the world for sustainability, economy, agriculture, health and well-being purposes. Most of the rural young girls and boys do not have access to education and health services. These communities survive with little income, which creates a huge frustration and makes the youth feel unable to fulfill their potential.

When we lead community meetings with young people, they develop new and amazing ideas, yet the youth lack the opportunity to put these ideas motion. In this regard, the High Atlas Foundation plays a great role in developing human capital and other core assets of sustainable livelihood in nine provinces of Morocco. The best example HAF offers is scholarships for intelligent and disadvantaged students to pursue their academic studies. HAF helps not only the youth, but also it illustrates the way to fulfill their dreams.

Essaouira Cultural Project - Dar TalibI think my generation is very powerful and we shouldn’t be looked on as troublemakers but we need to be given opportunities as opportunities . HAF has helped to build the capacities of youth and made the channels of communication wide open.  Typically; HAF’s trainers and facilitators sit with the young people and they state their needs and list the solutions to their problems and concerns using the participatory devlopement techniques.

I believe my generation is very powerful because they have the drive to improve conditions in Morocco. The youth have passion and they can start their own businesses. They need, however, the government and relevant organizations to ease the difficulties that interfere with success. By doing so, together the youth and government can contribute to Morocco’s development. The youth do not want Morocco to experience un-just blood-shed. Morocco’s Green Plan 2020 has many initiatives that include the youth within the development process. Further it engages them into multiple types of inclusive programs.

visit to Christian cemetery EssaouiraI call the young to change their negative mindset and start to think about the solutions to better the societal conditions and embrace the characteristics of positive ethics, faithfulness and responsibility. This will build a strong civil society for a compatible sustainability. Nevertheless the youth can best participate, when heard and provided with the opportunity to grow.

Malika Kassi
HAF Project Manager

We hope this call to action reaches you, from Malika's mouth to you energy to make a difference. We are so grateful for your continued support to help these youth reach their full potential. 

We are committed to enabling more opportunities to kids this school year than ever before in Morocco, and your support is key to making this into reality. Thank you. 

Jun 18, 2013

What We Accomplished Together

During the 2013 season, HAF planted in total 234,000 fruit seeds and saplings (inclduing also walnut and cactus) – the most HAF and its partners ever planted in one year.  This brings the total amount planted since 2003 to 692,500 trees.

From the 16thof February to the 23rdof April, HAF, along with primary school directors, teachers, and students, organized planting events that integrated children and their families. Fruit trees were planted, including walnut, lemon, olive, almond, and pomegranate – all of which grow endemically.

The delegate of education in Al Haouz province participated in planting to show his support of Sami’s Project, which seeks to teach children about protecting and benefiting from the environment, improving quality of life, and building school infrastructure.  Sami’s Project, in memory of lovely Sami, also partners with local parent and environmental associations.

Together, the students and  staff school dug holes in their school plots and planted the trees, and HAF team members presented information about caring for trees.  The students prepared thoughtful theatrical scenes about environmental degradation caused by human misuse.  Some of the trees were planted in community gardens, while the majority of trees (varieties that local families identified) were given to the schoolchildren to plant in their family farm.

In March 2013, G4S North and West Africa, contributed 5,000 trees to Sami’s Project. Over 70 members of the G4S team visited schools in the Rhamna province over two Saturdays to plant these trees with school children and community members. G4S has voiced its commitment to continue to support Sami’s Project in the future.  HAF is also grateful to the OCP Foundation for support of human development projects also in Rhamna.  Of course, the combined support of hundreds of inviduals made a powerful difference.  Finally, we’d like to thank U.S. Consul General Brian Shukan for his visit to Sami’s Projet Site in Ait Talib commune of Rhamna.

We've just put out a proposal asking to build 40 toilets in rural schools that don't have the facilities for students to relieves themselves sanitarily or modestly. This is our next goal for Sami's Project until the 2013 planting season. We hope you can give these children a chance to learn comfortable and cleanly. 

Thanks for your support!

Links:

Mar 27, 2013

Making the Most of the Planting Season

Planting with Students on a Rainy Day
Planting with Students on a Rainy Day

Thanks to you, HAF helped improve the lives of over 700 children and their families by delivering fruit trees for students to take home and planting fruit trees in the schoolyard, teaching students agricultural techniques for sustainable development. This planting and distribution with children is the pinnacle of Sami’s Project, a HAF program inspired by the loving memory of Samil El Kouhen to bring sustainable benefits to youth in Morocco.

Every weekend for the past month, HAF's team has joined local educational and community leaders to plant trees in schools throughout Rhamna and Al Haouz provinces in rural Morocco. Trees planted include pomegranate, lemon, fig, and olive. Others are given to the students to bring home to their families. HAF has been greeted by songs and presentations from eager, clever, and passionate youth. 

Sami's Project encourages children to be their own advocates for education through the participatory approach that gives them a stake in their education, assuring that Sami's students aren't part of the 400,000 students in Morocco who drop out of school before their baccalaureate. This is because HAF teaches the benefits of small scale farming by showing the direct impact of innovative agricultural techniques on families' income. Students that learn how to properly care for a fruit tree understand the opportunity to scale up and agricultural and market entrepreneurialism. HAF and communities are working to improve this model and the economic benefit as it seeks to incorporate organic certification of fruit trees around Morocco, and train students and families in these methods.

The benefits of Sami’s Project resonate around Al Haouz and Rhamna, because the results are sustainable, and the next generation in Morocco will benefit the most. Sami’s Project teaches elementary school students the numerous benefits that trees can bring to a community, and then trains them in how to plant and maintain trees in their school yards. The eventual fruits of the trees will benefit each school. HAF coordinates this project with teachers, community members, local Ministry of Education delegates and members of communal councils. Labor to plant the trees is provided in-kind by the communities, and the students participate wholeheartedly in the planting.

Sami’s Project was conceived by the El Kouhen family, inspired by loving memories of their 3-year-old son Sami (in the photo) who, before losing his battle with cancer 5 years ago, had already shown his love for the outdoors even at such an early age.  Sami’s father, Dr. Rachid El Kouhen, catalyzed this initiative with HAF Board Members, and together they organize the youth activities.

HAF is concerned with all aspects of community development. HAF recognizes that it is not only tree planting that encourages students to become entrepreneurs through education and good practices. It is also improving conditions in communities by bringing clean drinking water, which leads to a 16 percent increase in attendance rate (HAF Study in Tassa Ouirgane 2011). HAF both works with children to improve their technical education, and encourages participation in education through clean-water projects, school infrastructural and botanical garden initiatives, and participatory trainings.

Planting Proudly in Morocco
Planting Proudly in Morocco

Links:

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

Links:

Sep 28, 2012

Summer 2012 update from the Province of Al Haouz (near Marrakech), Morocco

Summer months are very hot and extremely dry in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, so during the summer vacation, project manager Ouafa Elbarqui decided to visit the trees planted with schoolchildren this past season to see how they’ve been doing in this heat.

[Her report with photos is attached.] 

As she explains in the attached photo essay, the school staff and students have made sure that the trees are being watered regularly even during the summer.

In the meantime, the next round of Sami’s Project is in the early planning stages, with one project to plant and distribute 2,000 trees, benefitting 100 students and families in Taza and other projects still to come.

This initiative aims to instill in young schoolchildren an appreciation of nature and allows them to experience that they can make a difference in their environment. Schoolchildren outside Morocco who have helped to raise funds for the trees have learned too that they can help others. We look forward to building upon this as the project enters its second year, and all ideas are welcome.

If you know of any youth group (outside Morocco) interested in teaming up with HAF for Sami's project, please contact me at:

hilary@highatlasfoundation.org


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Organization

Project Leader

Jacqueline Seeley

New York City and Marrakech, NY (US) & AlHaouz (Maroc) Morocco

Where is this project located?

Map of Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project