| Mar 26, 2018
An embodiment of Morocco's integrated development
By Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir | HAF President
An embodiment of Morocco’s integrated development approach is its way to preserve its diverse cultures. Morocco’s vision is that cultural activities should be advanced in integration with people’s development. King Mohammed VI described in 2008: “That vision consists in making sure culture serves as a driving force for development as well as a bridge for dialogue.” HAF’s cultural projects critically move forward human development, in education, livelihoods, the environment, and with people in remote places.
HOUSE OF LIFE is an innovative agricultural initiative whose implications are broad and set in the specific context of Moroccan human development needs and cultural history. The model thus created could be replicated throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. The term HOUSE OF LIFE denotes a traditional name for a Jewish cemetery. It was therefore particularly appropriate for the former Governor of the Al Haouz Province, to employ the phrase in respect of the project, led by HAF in Morocco and endorsed by the Clinton Global Initiative. The uniqueness of the scheme lies in its intercultural aspect. HOUSE OF LIFE facilitates the free loan of land adjoining Jewish burial sites, in order to establish organic tree and medicinal nurseries for the benefit of farming communities.
Pluralistic Moroccan Human and Agricultural Development: The goal of the project is to plant the two million seeds on land lent by the Moroccan Jewish Community and implement the agricultural value-chain, including the export of organic certified product to the United States and European Union. HAF proposes to grow two million seeds in four nurseries in three provinces, transplant them to orchards and schools in the twelve regions of Morocco, certify organic in three municipalities, monitor carbon offsets, and provide training with the community and cooperative members.
In 2014, the HAF pilot nursery on Jewish communal land was established at Akrich, located on the northern side of the High Atlas in Al Haouz province, around 25 kilometers south of Marrakech, at the site of the 700-year-old tomb of a Jewish healer. Since that time, we planted 150,000 almond, fig, pomegranate, and lemon seeds which have reached maturity and now are maintained by about 1,000 farmers and 130 schools. The project was funded by longtime friends and GlobalGiving supporters of HAF, and the Lodestar Foundation.
In 2016, the first trees from the pilot were handed to local children and farmers by the Governor joined by the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco. Earlier, the Ambassador hosted a reception for House of Life at his residence in Rabat, at which Advisor to the King, and former Peace Corps Director in Morocco (and current HAF Board Member), addressed the audience.
Having started during the holy month of Ramadan 2017, HAF is hosting a series of community meetings in the Mellah neighborhood of Marrakech to prioritize local needs and establish a path for a sustainable future. In coordination with the Association Mimouna, Jewish Community of Marrakech, Region of Marrakech-Safi and the Marrakech Beladiya, HAF hosted a series of traditional Moroccan breaks of fast with the local community in order to foster participatory development action. Immediately following these interfaith meals at the Slat Lazama synagogue, local residents and organization leaders developed plans to achieve new projects - in clean drinking water, education, and building revitalization.