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...
Nov 11, 2014

Dar Taliba boarding house, 1999 - 2014

Dar Taliba girls planting a new tree
Dar Taliba girls planting a new tree

In our previous report, we described the diverse gardens we have planted at Dar Taliba, a girls’ boarding house in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains. Just 45 minutes from Marrakech, we have collaborated with Dar Taliba’s staff and the girls in residence to create aromatic herb, ornamental and vegetable gardens along with a fruit tree orchard. As we have noted, our latest initiative is an ethnobotanical garden created with support from the Montreal Botanical Garden.

Understanding the importance of these school gardens requires a little bit of history of Dar Taliba itself. The boarding house was founded in 1999, as Morocco was going through an important transition. King Mohamed VI had just taken the throne, and one of his first official visits was to Dar Taliba in the Ourika valley. This was a symbol of his commitment to improving the situation for girls and women in Morocco, including enhanced educational opportunities in rural areas.

When Gary Martin, Director of the Global Diversity Foundation, first visited Dar Taliba in 2002, he met several girls from the first generation of students. Among them was Jamila, a young achiever from the remote village Ait Lekak nestled high in the Atlas mountains. Originally monolingual in Amazigh (the local language), Jamila went on to learn Arabic in primary school, French in secondary school when she was resident at Dar Taliba and then English in university, where she studied communications. After a few years studying in Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, and additional years working in its largest city, Casablanca, Jamila was invited to return to Dar Taliba as its new director. Martin says, “Having Jamila return to the rural boarding house where she was a resident for three years is an incredible opportunity for Dar Taliba, and you can see on the faces of the current residents that they are embracing their good fortune in continuing their studies in a nurturing environment”.

Jamila is an enthusiastic collaborator in our ethnobotanical and horticultural projects. In our next report, we will describe one of our new initiatives that she is leading: recontacting and interviewing many of the 750 girls who have passed through Dar Taliba over the last 15 years about the impact that access to education has had on their lives.  

Photo descriptions:

One of the residents in Dar Taliba takes of photo of other girls planting a new tree in the ethnobotanical garden (Credit: Inanc Tekguc). 

Dar Taliba Director Jamila interacting with members of the Pacific Horticultural Society who came to visit the gardens (Credit: Inanc Tekguc).

Jamila interacting with visitors to Dar Taliba
Jamila interacting with visitors to Dar Taliba
Oct 1, 2014

An overview of GESA 2014

Salvia Goethe Dynamic Engagement Retreat
Salvia Goethe Dynamic Engagement Retreat

GESA 2014 concluded just over a month ago, with high levels of enthusiasm for the connections forged and the promise of new collaborations, yet with sadness to be leaving such a cohesive, stimulating space of exchange. As always, it was an intense, fascinating, memorable experience for all who participated – this year brought together 18 participants (1 from Africa, 5 from Asia, 5 from Europe, 6 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 1 from Northern America) who actively engaged with highly experienced representatives of academia, civil society, government and the private sector invited to GESA as resource people. GESA, once again, served as a meaningful platform for the exchange of insights drawn from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

We would like to thank our GlobalGiving donors who provided crucial funds enabling participants to attend this year’s Global Environments Summer Academy.

GESA 2014, through pictures:

Salvia Goethe Dynamic Engagement Retreat

GESA 2014 opened with the 5-day Salvia Goethe Dynamic Engagement Retreat, a retreat that prompted participants to weave Goethe’s presence into the rest of the course, both in everyday interactions and reflections, and through specific workshops and discussions. In this photo, Silvia (from Italy) introduces her course-mate Eda (from Turkey) to different elements of nature during the Mirror Walk exercise, an exercise designed to provide a holistic lens and activate all pathways of perception. (Credit: Inanc Tekguc).

TED-style talks at GESA

The application of TED-style talks, a new feature of GESA, resonated throughout the course with the aim to develop participants’ communications skills through the practice of presenting their research and ideas, which came to be known as the GESAx talks. Here, GESA 2014 participant, Edgar, who hails from Mexico, delivers his presentation titled "My environmental education: A journey of theory and practice". (Credit: Silvia Forno).

Video Communications Workshop

For the fourth year running, our successful Video Communications Workshop was conducted, led by visual anthropologist and GESA photographer/videographer Inanc Tekguc, and journalist and videographer Ruth Krause. (Credit: Silvia Forno).

Visual note-taking

In keeping with the theme of enhancing participants’ communications skills, resource people Reinhold Leinfelder and Alexandra Hamann delivered a well-received workshop on making comics for communicating complex scientific ideas and innovations. Here is a participant’s experiment with visual note-taking and comic techniques to record the report-back from the mapping workshop led by Susannah McCandless. (Credit: Ana Elia Ramon Hidalgo)

Reflections on the Salvia Goethe Dynamic Engagement Retreat by participants:

Reflections, by GESA 2014 participant, Mel (Brazil)

“Many of us had the opportunity to get in touch with our deep emotions and our sense as part of a beautiful whole (with the wholeness within us).”-Mel (Credit: Silvia Forno)

Reflections, by GESA 2014 participant, Yuan (China)

“The method has triggered my interest in drawing, from which I discover many details I used to ignore. For my life, as now I am standing at the crossroads where many things could happen, I deeply appreciate this method so that I could describe and explore new paths, using my senses and feelings, which is quite new and exciting. I am not sure of how this going to influence my work in the future, however, for certain I will carry with me more emotions, feelings and imagination when I make decisions.” -Yuan (Credit: Silvia Forno) 

TED-style talks at GESA 2014
TED-style talks at GESA 2014
Video Communications Workshop
Video Communications Workshop
Visual note-taking
Visual note-taking
Reflections, by Mel (Brazil)
Reflections, by Mel (Brazil)
Reflections, by Yuan (China)
Reflections, by Yuan (China)

Links:

Aug 26, 2014

Connecting with Japanese visitors through shared activities and crafts in Ulu Papar

Arriving in Buayan by 4WD
Arriving in Buayan by 4WD

The strong living biocultural heritage of Ulu Papar, and the welcoming and self-reflective character of the communities continues to build and strengthen connections, so that visitors tend to keep returning. Early last month, Shinobu from Gakushuin University once again headed into the depths of the Crocker Range, joined by local counterparts, including representatives from the local university, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and from Arkitrek, the social enterprise fundamental in the design and construction of the community-action centre in Buayan. Raymond, who hails from Buayan, acted as community liaison and guide during the visit.

The purpose? To finalise plans for the DISSOLVA 2014 Borneo Project, a Gakushuin International Culture and Community Exchange Programme that brought 16 Japanese students to Sabah from 7th – 24th August 2014. Why are we excited about this? As with their two earlier visits, this year’s schedule included a good mix of activities. The Japanese students trekked deep into the dense tropical rainforest of Borneo to live with, learn about, and try to integrate with local Dusun communities in two villages in the Crocker Range. There, they assisted with the completion of the Bio-cultural Heritage Centre in Buayan, a hub for future outreach, self-advocacy and learning activities.

It is interesting to learn of similarities between cultures in two countries set more than three thousand miles apart. As Shinobu noted, forwarding photos from her July trip to Buayan, “Flat baskets made of bamboo are also common in Japan”. She added then that her student group hoped to make these baskets while in Kalangaan Village, and use them in their planned daily activities. “They also planned to use these baskets for the dance they prepared to show before their departure from Kota Kinabalu,” she added.

We thank Shinobu for sharing her story, and for Gakushuin University’s ongoing interaction with and support for the Ulu Papar community. 

Additional note: 

VOTE NOW! The photo of a Dusun child from Bundu Tuhan, taken by GDF photographer, Inanc Tekguc, made it through to GlobalGiving's Photo Contest this year! This opens up a new way you can support this project; the project with the photo that receives the most votes by noon EDT on August 29 will be awarded a $1,000 bonus. Vote now (it takes less than 1 minute)! Click here, enter your e-mail address, and verify your vote! If you’d like to learn about the story behind this phoo, click here. Thank you!

Photo descriptions

Shinobu, second from right, with the others on the trip in front of the 4WD that ferried them to Buayan. The group took an 8-hour trek on the way out. 

With the main structure and internal walls of the Bio-cultural Heritage Centre put in place last year, this year’s aim set out was to add finishing touches, construct a toilet and introduce the design of a septic tank/phytoremediation system.

The community centre in Buayan
The community centre in Buayan
Woven baskets in Buayan
Woven baskets in Buayan
A Dusun child from Bundu Tuhan
A Dusun child from Bundu Tuhan
 
   

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