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. HAF's 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 app...
Mar 10, 2016

ENRICHING US ALL - HAF'S HOUSE OF LIFE INTERCULTURAL INITIATIVE & CGI

Morocco: Supporting economic development in a way that enriches us all – High Atlas Foundation House of Life intercultural organic agriculture initiative and Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action

 

Monday, January 25th, 2016 – Akrich, rural commune of Tamesloht, Al Haouz province (27 km south of Marrakesh): A spirit of unity and hope reigned at Monday’s intercultural celebration of the new planting season, which was graced by The Honorable Dwight L. Bush, Sr., Ambassador of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Morocco and Mr. Younès Al Bathaoui, Governor of Al Haouz province, and which represented a further milestone for the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) under its President, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir.

The definitive shift in scope and scale of HAF’s innovative House of Life initiative was publicly fêted at the event.  This builds on and strengthens intercommunal relationships between Moroccan Muslim and Jewish communities and commenced in 2012 as a pilot organic project at Akrich itself – where a total of 90,000 fruit seeds and saplings have been planted to date.  In July 2015, under the terms of a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, HAF embarked on a three-year program to plant a further one million trees in nurseries adjoining rural Jewish burial sites in the provinces of Azilal, Essaouira and Ouarzazate, for the benefit of local, disadvantaged Muslim farmers.

House of Life forms an integral part of HAF’s ongoing One Billion Tree Campaign, which also includes a junior educational initiative,Sami’s ProjectAs a whole, this transformative scheme has already succeeded in planting over a million organic, indigenous trees and medicinal plants in 13 Moroccan provinces, with the commitment representing a significant amplification of the process.

Monday’s event, with its interfaith, agricultural and communal emphasis brought together the communities of Akrich, Asni and Ourika involved in HAF projects, as well as members of the Moroccan Jewish community, Moroccan and United States government officials and prominent supporters of HAF.

Coinciding with Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year for trees, it was framed around four elements; a visit conducted by Mr. Jacky Kadoch, President of the Jewish community of Marrakesh-Essaouira, to the 700-year-old shrine of Raphael HaCohen adjoining the nursery, including the prayer for rain requested by H.M. King Mohammed VI in view of the significant lack of rain this winter; the planting of a single fig tree; the symbolic distribution of mature trees – almond, fig, grape and pomegranate – to local farming families: and the signing of the Clinton Global Initiative certificate that took place at the opening of a communal lunch attended by around 250.  Children in particular played a prominent role, as future trustees of the land and educators regarding its care.  Ambassador Bush summed up the event as a unique opportunity to celebrate Morocco’s multiculturalism and support economic development in a way that enriches us all.

 

Please click here to enjoy photos of the event.  

 

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has been implementing development projects in predominantly rural areas throughout Morocco since 2000, building on the Peace Corps experience of its founders. HAF is both a U.S. 501(c) (3) organization and a Moroccan non-profit association. Since 2011 it has held special Consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. 

HAF utilizes a participatory, democratic approach to the management of all its projects, which are determined and managed by local communities, to support the Kingdom of Morocco in its twin bid to overcome subsistence agricultural practices that lie at the root of systemic rural poverty and to offset severe environmental challenges, including soil erosion and deforestation. 

The foundation actively seeks expertise within Morocco and is supported by Moroccan and international volunteers. The dynamic created by this intercultural team affords HAF a unique capacity to advance human development

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Mar 7, 2016

LEGAL AID PROGRAM IN MOHAMMEDIA BENEFITING MOROCCANS WITH DISABILITIES

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) team is currently in the process of wrapping up its Legal Aid Program, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and held in partnership with the Faculty of Law, Economics and Social Sciences in Mohammedia.

 

The program concentrated on providing legal services for civil society organizations (CSOs) and marginalized communities and groups, particularly women and youth. Areas of the law focused upon included economic, political and social aspects that impact on the ability of CSOs and communities to engage in efficient advocacy efforts for policy reform so as to make a tangible, positive impact on citizens’ life conditions.

40 CSO activists and leaders from 6 communes in the province of Mohammedia participated in the program. Of these, 12 were themselves disabled and represented 3 CSOs dedicated to providing services to individuals with disabilities and special needs. All participants gained legal knowledge, analytical skills and a heightened capacity to plan and manage participatory advocacy strategies leading to legal and political reforms.

Direct beneficiaries also included 25 law students, 4 of them with disabilities. They were able to build their applied skills through providing legal counseling for the other participants and by extension, for the CSOs and communes they represented.

One component of the program was a needs assessment conducted together with the participants to help design community development plans. As a result, two projects were created to benefit directly people with disabilities.

The first was an advocacy strategy to ensure equal access for people with disabilities to government buildings in Mohammedia. CSO activists were able to meet with the Governor and representatives of newly elected communal councils and convince them to activate and enforce all existing regulations and policies regarding disability and accessibility. By the end of December 2015, CSO activists were able to report that the infrastructure necessary to ensure equal access had been installed in six government premises in the province.

Mme. Fatima, who has a physical disability and who is the president of the association ‘All Together to Develop and Support People with Special Needs’ commented "being able to bring together activists from different CSOs to lead the process of developing and implementing an efficient advocacy strategy to address the issue of accessibility to government buildings by people with disabilities and the positive reaction of the Governor and local authorities - all of these are positive indicators that, with support and guidance we, individuals with physical disabilities, are able to be independent at all levels”.

The aim of the second project was to create a vocational training structure for teenagers with Down syndrome. The HAF team helped secure funding for a year-long training for 6 teenagers currently preparing for their diploma to become chefs. It is hoped that, on qualifying, they will be able to be integrated into the job market.

M. Tarik, the general secretary of Association ‘Parents and Friends of Children with Down Syndrome in Mohammedia’ commented: "partners, both public and private, were hesitant to work with our association. Now that we were able to restructure our operations thanks to training and guidance provided by the High Atlas Foundation, we were able to expand an existing partnership with the Ministry of National Education and sign a new agreement with the National Welfare Department. These agreements allowed us to provide education and professional training to over 50 children and youth with Down syndrome."

 

 

 

Feb 19, 2016

Trees for a bright future!

HAF President and students from the school
HAF President and students from the school

Since 2003, HAF has planted over 1.3 million seeds and trees throughout the Kingdom. In 2015, HAF planted a record-breaking number of trees: 320,000 fruit trees and seeds throughout all of Morocco, of this, 15,809 trees planted in 86 schools and reaching over 17,800 students.  In 2014, we planted trees with 67 schools. 

It is in light of the 2016 planting season, which has already begun, we have the opportunity to plant more seeds that we have in our entire history as an organization.

Specifically, for Sami’s Project, HAF has the potential to reach over 36,200 students at 113 schools throughout 44 Municipalities in 11 Provinces in Morocco. These schools and communities have identified local priorities and needs for which species to plant, over 17,100 in total. The pedagogical gardens that could be grown from these quantities, would greatly stimulate the learning environment and engage entire communities.

Growing environmental stewards of Moroccan reinforces community efforts to identify, prioritize and implement community-led development projects. Sami’s project supports policies like the Plan Maroc Vert and the “éco-école” program of the Mohammed VI foundation for the Protection of the Environment, among others. These efforts lay the future for a sustainable, stimulated and green Morocco for generations to come. Knowing of your deep commitment to inspire participatory environmental education, we hope to work together to facilitate human development throughout Morocco.   

With the planting season already under way, we hope with all our heart that we achieve the 2016 Sami’s Project potential and at the many other schools in years to come. It is therefore, that I would kindly like to request your support of HAF this planting season to allow Moroccan school children to opportunity to reap the benefits of the seeds sewn. We look forward to our collaboration to make a real difference in the lives of Moroccan school children.

HAF President & A. Guahouane working for project
HAF President & A. Guahouane working for project
The female students from the school in Bouchane
The female students from the school in Bouchane
Trees change their future
Trees change their future

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