Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project

by High Atlas Foundation
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Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project
Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project
Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project

Planting has always been an interest not only for adults but also for younger kids, and this is what our visit to Dar Tifl Marrakech showed.

HAF’s Farmer to Farmer (F2F) team, alongside the U.S. Volunteer Mrs. Stenstrom, paid a first visit to the Dar Tifl Orphanage in Marrakech. The purpose of this visit was to meet with the kids and the staff there and get a better understanding of the activities being undertaken at this orphanage.

The place is spacious enough to shelter up to 400 kids, and it consists of residential units for boys and girls, dining rooms classified by ages, study rooms, a sports room, an arts and crafts area, an environment club, a pedagogical farm, bathhouses, and a mosque. Therefore, the kids have a variety of daily activities they can pursue in addition to their studies.

The F2F team and the staff at Dar Tifl had previously discussed the possibility of conducting a planting workshop with the kids, which had indeed been implemented the next time the team and the volunteers visited the orphanage.

U.S. Volunteer Afra Stenstrom started her workshop by asking the kids some planting-related questions, and to our surprise, the kids seemed to already posses a great knowledge about planting trees. This contributed greatly to everyone’s enthusiasm during the workshop. After a brief tutorial by Afra, we soon began planting the trees, which were provided by the High Atlas Foundation for the benefit of the orphanage.

The second section of the workshop consisted of teaching the kids how to germinate the seeds using tissues and plastic bags. Germinating the seeds using a damp paper towel speeds up the sprouting process of the seedlings; it starts by wetting the tissue well and then spreading the seeds inside. The third step consists of wrapping the tissue twice before sealing it up in a plastic bag, which should then be put in a place that is accessible to light. These steps were clearly understood by the children who were fully engaged and concentrated on Afra during her explanation.

The outcome of this germination experiment can be seen shortly, and then when the seeds sprout, they can be moved to small pots first and then bigger ones as they continue to grow. These fun activities allow the kids to discover the process of germination and planting trees, and opens the door for young, new gardeners to grow. 

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March 26, 2022—As part of the activities carried out by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in partnership with the BeGreen program, the HAF team revived tree planting with some schools in Casablanca province. There, over 1,300 male and female students at Al-Farabi Prep and Ibn Battouta High School had the opportunity to replace their pens with shovels and planted 100 trees of various types for the improvement of the climate and environmental conditions. The HAF team took the initiative to introduce the institution and its programs, as well as a practical explanation of the correct way to plant trees and ways to take care of them. 

It is clear that the city of Casablanca is the economic capital of Morocco, and as such it is more vulnerable to pollution than others. Such activities give it some life and some hope. One can see the joy of the glimmer in children's eyes as they touch the dirt and plant for the first time. This in itself is something to be proud of. It is essential. There should be a green space and environmental activities in every school in particular to maintain clean air for these children and provide a healthy, comfortable and positive school environment.

All students, teachers, and directors showed appreciation, enthusiasm and gratitude for this wonderful opportunity, expressing their urgent need for such activities as well as their desire for more trees. The day ended with hope and enthusiasm for the future, and agreements were concluded for more of these effective activities. The HAF team looks forward to continuing to work with these schools to make a difference in the lives of these communities, and of course to see the flourishing of these trees, which were small seedlings that signified hope.

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On March 28, the High Atlas Foundation in coordination with Zrayka Association for Development and Cooperation organized an environmental workshop for the students of Ibn Battuta School in the village of Ganfouda in Jerada province. Students of all school levels were involved in the planting process for more than 20 trees after they learned how to plant them. They gained information about the stages of tree planting and its importance in human life as well as the significant role we play in preserving our lives on earth.

The main objective of this workshop was to educate students about the importance of preserving the environment and integrating the culture of tree planting into the educational system to create a generation of young people who possess the culture of defending the environment, preserving nature, and improving the aesthetics of the school space.

The students interacted with this workshop and expressed their joy and thanks to the High Atlas Foundation, which provided them with many trees and contributed to raising their awareness about the environment and the need to plant trees anywhere to ensure the future of humanity.

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Within the framework of its environmental and awareness activities, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), in coordination with the Environment and Human Association in the city of Berkane, organized a field training workshop for a group of young people in the eastern region as part of their participation in the Be Green program. The program is supported by America House, which aims to enhance local participation in the planning and implementation of social and economic projects focusing on the environment in Morocco and in order to enhance skills in the areas of environmental awareness, community assessment, business planning, organizational development, project design, and management.

On this day, March 13, 50 young men and women from different areas of the eastern region participated in order to communicate and learn about women's cooperatives in the Berkane region and the role of women in promoting local development and preserving the environment in commemoration of International Women's Day, which falls on March 8 of each year. In addition, they visited a tree nursry to gain a range of information about tree nurseries.

The trip started from Berkane towards the Hamri Roundabout in order to visit the Al-Hamri Women’s Cooperative for Solidarity and Development and to communicate with the head of the cooperative, Mrs. Hasnaa, and members of the cooperative. The team also visited the Qaid Al-Mansoori Center for Rural Development in the Al-Hamri Roundabout, which is run by the Women’s Cooperative,  to learn about its projects and natural products, and to tour inside a nursery. 

For the cultivation of natural herbs managed by the cooperative, a discussion and dialogue was opened with the cooperative to learn about its history and projects. A number of points and challenges faced by the women’s cooperative, mainly “product marketing,” were discussed, where the participants spoke about the topic and shared their suggestions and ideas to contribute to supporting the cooperative’s development of its projects and products. and achieve all its future goals.

Also, a visit was made to the Malwiya Nursery, which produces all types of trees, where the participants in the program were introduced to the stages of seedling production in the nursery and the types of trees that are produced.

After acquiring a set of ideas and information about the nurseries, the participants went to the village of Tgma to visit Ms. Al-Yaqoubi, who is responsible for managing the Tegma Resort in the roundabout of Awlad El-Hajj, as a symbol of the struggling women in the field of tourism. This resort is a quiet place among the mountains, and it is characterized by a landscape consisting mainly of carob trees that have inhabited the area for years. She is trying to manage and succeed in local tourism by undertaking her normal duties in the daily running of the resort as well as meeting the requests of Moroccan and international visitors.

Mrs. Al-Yaqoubi, who knows the region well, received the HAF team and the participants in the Be Green program training. She also shared with everyone important stations in her life in the field of tourism and indicated that she did not have any experience at first in this field, but with her determination, she developed her skills and learned through her experiences in Al-Hayat and was able to support its tourism project despite the many difficulties it was experiencing, mainly in recent years due to the Corona health crisis.

At the end of the training, a visit was made to the Women’s Al-kimma Cooperative in Tafoughalt, which works in the context of extracting natural essential oils, valuing and marketing aromatic plants, as well as traditional industry products, such as carpets. The head of the cooperative provided a historical overview of its establishment and its choices in the nature of the projects it accomplishes. 

The cooperative leader also added that the beginning of this valuable women's cooperative faced great difficulties in its early stages, including the lack of experience in the field of cooperative work and the self-training of cooperative members. However, working as a team enabled the cooperative to overcome crises and challenges and continue its work and planning, as it recently participated in exhibitions in the Eastern Province and presented its products to the public. She concluded her intervention by adding that the cooperative aspires in the future to better develop its products and to participate in exhibitions and initiatives to present its experience and its natural products to the public.

In summary, this training trip for the Be Green program aimed for the participants to experience all the different contributions to protecting the environment and nature and acquire a set of information and ideas about women's cooperatives and their role in preserving the environment and green cover through caring for nature. In addition, they were to get closely acquainted with the role of rural women and to benefit from their experiences in life and their determination to contribute to sustainable development by creating job opportunities for women in the deserts, developing their life skills, and helping them to face life conditions.

The participation of women in everyday life is an important necessity in order to confront climate changes and expand the circle of spreading environmental awareness and culture to future generations.  As the old saying goes, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, but we borrow it from our children.”

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On Monday, January 17th, I had the honor to come and participate in an exceptional work with the High Atlas Foundation. It was actually my first time doing tree-planting activities and giving students awareness of the benefits of tree planting.

We started with a primary school in Marrakech, called al Mokef, an old school with four decades of history. We were very well received by the principal and teachers like students, who were very happy to be part of the program. We planted as many trees as we could and what caught my attention the most was how members of HAF took notes on problems that students and teachers face every day in school. The next stop was a secondary school, a boarding school called al-Mansour al-Dehbi, and we were greeted by its students who are members of the school's environmental club. We started the activities as we did before in the first school, and today's task was 100% successful. This is just one of the thousands of programs that HAF organizes every year across Morocco,

I really enjoyed my volunteering with the High Atlas Foundation, and I can't wait to do it again.

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High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
New York City, NY United States
$52,318 raised of $100,000 goal
 
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