Oct 11, 2012

Tassa Ouirgan: a new women's co-op to be constructed

Oct. 2012 Field Report from Ouafa Elbarqui, HAF's Center Coordinator:

Cooperative for women and young girls of Tassa Ouirgan, Rural Commune of Ouirgane, Province of Al Haouz, MOROCCO

October, 2012 Updates 

The High Atlas Foundation’s field team had led a great deal of participatory community meetings with women and girls of the rural village “Tassa Ouirgan” for them to prioritize and identify their local development projects. As a result of this series of participatory community planning meetings, around 60 women and girls will benefit from the co-op to be constructed, enabling them to easily manage the local development projects they have already identified. Creating this co-op will also give them a chance to improve their lives in the sense that it offers them a space to meet, discuss and make decisions by their own. More than that, it can be a space for improving their capacities; learning of new skills in different domains: Crafts, Agricultural, educational and environmental skills…etc. It is an important space for skills and knowledge exchange not only between women and young girls but between experts, which will be provided by the HAF.

The HAF has given a lot of importance to the construction of this co-op location for women and has put it as one of the first goals of the HAF in Tassa Ouirgan because of the  great interest the women and young girls have expressed for this need. On September 20, 2012, Ouafa Elbargui, the HAF’s center coordinator was joining the group of women and young girls during two hours of the general assembly for the registration of the women’s co-op, and together we succeeded to formulate the board of directors, which consists of 9 members (women and young girls). These Board members will manage all of the business of the co-op with participation of the other advisors. The co-op is called “Hope Association for Women of Tassa Ouirgan”. For this moment both the HAF’s team and the board members are working together to complete the application file for the registration to submit it to the Caidat of Ouirgan, a state administration which belongs to the Ministry of Interior which provides the authorization for creating cooperatives, nonprofit associations….etc.

Once we get the provisional permit, the construction of the co-op building will begin. Normally, this professional document is received after 15 days of the file submission. Then after two months, the Caidat will provide the final permit. Both the women and the young girls are very ambitious and happy about having their co-op, feeling that sense of autonomy of managing their lives and projects themselves. It always used to be a hope for them but now it is going to be a realized dream.

[See attached photos.]


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Oct 9, 2012

Exciting NEWS About Upcoming Value-Added Initiative

At this time of year, HAF prepares projects for the upcoming planting season, which will begin when the rainy weather arrives.

GOOD NEWS:

While planting 458,492 trees in 9 years, HAF has been looking into ways to add value to the yield. 

Currently, a team has been busy working out the details of a value-added project for the walnuts and almonds being harvested at several HAF project sites, and HAF has just been awarded one of four Alliance for Global Good’s Innovation fund Prizes, which will enable HAF to obtain organic certification. (Details below)

Now, your contributions will go further than just planting trees. The yield from those trees will create jobs and additional income for community members.

PLEASE CONSIDER making a RECURRING DONATION to this increasingly beneficial project.  

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HAF Seeking Organic Certification:  

As part of a new initiative, HAF has undertaken obtaining organic certification for the walnut and almond crops from High Atlas villages.

In September, HAF led nut specialists and entrepreneurs, a photographer and a technician from Morocco's Ministry of Agriculture on a week-long tour to study the current crops and systems and determine what steps will be necessary in order to obtain certification for these farmers. The expedition is described in detail in this HAF blog: http://www.highatlasfoundation.org/blogs/308-Hafs-harvest-and-organic-certification 

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HAF Wins an Alliance for Global Good's Innovation Fund prize:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Innovation Fund Winners Announced 

Four Nonprofits Selected For Project Funding

Winners use best-in-class combination of nonprofit mission and business models for sustainable social good.

Greensboro, NC – A path to prosperity for the poorest of Morocco's rural farmers through organic certification. … These are the proposals that were selected from nearly 50 applicants to be the [4] inaugural grantees of the Alliance for Global Good's Innovation Fund.     ...

High Atlas Foundation | | Morocco 

  • Challenge: How to grow earned income of resident client population, as well as create source of
    sustainable revenue for organizational needs. 
  • Solution: Obtain organic certification for residents’ agricultural products and create supply chain that
    eliminates middle man, thereby increasing revenue generated many times over, allowing both organization and target population to benefit.

To learn more about this prize, read HAF's blog post:  http://www.highatlasfoundation.org/blogs/312-haf-innovation-fund-winner-of-the-alliance-for-global-good

Attached please see photos taken during a recent tour of these projects earlier in September.


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Oct 8, 2012

Ben Guerir region: Female Elected Officials Learn HAF Participatory Planning Development Techniques

Thanks in great part to funding received from MEPI (Middle East Partnership Initiative), HAF has been teaching another group of female elected officials some participatory planning techniques that help them voice their views and be heard, thereby empowering them to strengthen their roles and become more active and effective leaders in building the capacities of their communities. This training is "learning by doing". While conducting participatory planning activities, HAF is coaching these elected women, supporting them to enter into the process and actively contribute to their communities' development. 

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HAF Community Facilitator Malika Kassi reports:

This particular program benefits 20 elected women from the province of Rhamna, and HAF’s goal is to implement 10 of the projects proposed during their community participatory planning activities, eventually benefitting 4000 people. 

The women trainees expressed that the training has already made a difference in their lives because they feel proud that they will be able to be active leaders in their communities. 

Prior to the training, most of the elected women found it challenging to participate in the political life of their communes because they lacked the necessary skills to be decision-makers concerning the issues of their communes. 

To understand more about their roles, we opened a discussion with them through the following questions: 

How do you feel about your role as elected women?

Some of the elected women feel that they haven’t had opportunities to get involved in political life in the sense that most of the decisions when they are made, do not include them. 

Others expressed that they don’t have enough knowledge about how the communes work, and they are not aware about their roles regarding nonprofit associations and civil society. And some of them said “I am not happy with my role because I feel as stuck in place as a stable rock and I can’t make change happen, although I want to do something good for my community but I don’t know how to make my role effective’.

In addition, some of them said: “I have enough knowledge but I don’t have the power to express my thoughts freely”.

How would you like to see your role as elected women?

Elected women hope to develop a sense of their responsibility for communal issues and be more active in their communities so that their thoughts will be voiced — and heard — in the communes they are working for.

What skills need to be gained in order for them to be more proactive? 

Elected women expressed that: “We have been participating in different workshops but we didn’t feel that we gained enough skills to be active in our communities”. And one of them added: “But I think the way HAF approaches us makes us feel that we can do a lot, and we will gain trust among our communities by being more responsible and active”.

 

To support them and motivate them, HAF organized a set of trainings and workshops where the elected women learned new skills of both group facilitation and identifying the needs of their communities. 

HAF has been supervising the trainee women in the participatory planning meetings held in their communities where they use  the methods and tools of the HAF participatory development approach in order to understand the community’s needs.  

In this program, HAF is trying to encourage and empower elected women to share their ideas with their communities and discuss social issues and governmental actions by being very proactive in order to acquire full political and social participation. Most importantly, with MEPI’s support, HAF is seeking to enhance leadership skills among elected women.

As we near the end of this particular program, the elected women feel supported because they finally are discovering how to assume their roles in a proactive way.

Not everything is certain, but everything is possible

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