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!
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.
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.
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:
Shonali Banerjee and Aliza Appelbaum are In-The-Field Representatives for GlobalGiving. They are visiting projects in Morocco, Spain and France. Here is their most recent "postcard" from Morocco:
On June 27, 2012, Aliza and I had the pleasure of visiting two local High Atlas Foundation project sites, both in the High Atlas Mountains outside of Marrakech. In the afternoon, HAF Project Manager Abderrahim took us to Tassa Ouirguane, a rural village home to Sami's Project and several other development projects. After arriving in the village, we were invited into the home of the local town leader, Hassan. While there, we discussed the benefits of the project whie enjoying tea, fresh baked bread and olive oil made from local olives. Since Hassan only spoke a Berber dialect, Abderrahim kindly acted as translator for us while we talked about how Sami's project has impacted the village and improved the livelihoods of the local citizens. After leaving Hassan's home, we walked down the road to see the orchards and site where they will build a women's co-op. The co-op is the next project the village leaders have chosen for their community, and Abderrahim told us it can be built in about two months. We were thoroughly impressed by how quickly this project will be completed. Hopefully the next time GlobalGiving representatives visit Morocco, they will be able to see the finished co-op! We were accompanied to the orchards by Hassan and his son Abdul Karim (pictured below), who brought an empty crate to pick some of the fruit. We saw apricots, plums, and nectarines, all ready to be picked. As we came to different kinds of trees, we got to try all the different kinds of delicious fruits. After a few minutes, we decided to climb up in the trees also to pick our own. It was a fun and interactive site visit! This also felt rather like coming full circle. In the morning, we were able to see the small cherry and walnut saplings in the nursery. In the afternoon, we saw a flourishing orchard, where village leaders are successfully selling the produce in local markets.Sadly, the school was already closed for summer vacation, but we stopped by to see it on the way back to Marrakech. The school is for primary education only right now, but considering the low literacy levels endemic to the region, this is a great start for the village. Aliza and I were thrilled to visit this site, and see just how much of an imapct this High Atlas Foundation project is having on the local community.
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New York City and Marrakech,
NY (US) & AlHaouz (Maroc)