Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project

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

Project Report | Jul 28, 2022
A Vision for the Future: Tiznit's Agricultural and Spiritual Cultivation

By Ryan Winegardner | HAF-UVA Intern

The road to Tiznit from Marrakech runs through the mountains, a landscape that floats and rises and arcs like the mezzanines and cantilevers and walkways of what could only be a heavenly architecture. Over the red and rocky landscape, the mountains truly seemed to be the spires of fairy-tale castles, and as we progressed, the world changed from furnace-blasted plains, to mountains, to fog, and then to the coast, where the Atlas flings itself into the Atlantic.

After a five-hour bus ride across this landscape, I stepped into Tiznit hoping to explore the town, but I was forced to pause. It was quiet. Compared to Marrakech, it felt like all the pent-up energy and commotion and chaos of everyone all along the Eurasian landmass had exploded in a stampede of wild horses across the Atlas and came here to descend into the water. Maybe it was just my relief from getting off the long drive from Marrakech, but Tiznit felt harbored from all the insanity of the world.

 The Vice President of Tiznit invited the HAF team to a conference with the city government, including the head of the ministry of culture and the head of the ministry of farming. These officials were proud of their town, and the cultivated atmosphere of tranquility, and they were happy to talk with us about Tiznit. We discussed the importance of culture, agriculture, and sports to their vision of development in town and throughout the countryside.

Through culture, they hoped to identify, improve, and advocate for important sites around the area, such as Jewish and Amazigh shrines that may have been forgotten over time. Through agriculture, they hoped to expand production of commodity crops like argan, which grows best in the Sous-Massa region. But I was confused by what sports could bring to this vision. It often seems that sports can be confused with big arenas and drunk fans and riots, all consumed in big commotion and craziness that is certainly antithetical to Tiznit, and would probably belong better in Marrakech. What place would sports have here?

Then we went an hour into the country to visit a middle school. There was a big dance from skilled Imazighen professionals. There were presentations on local culture, especially focusing on music and argan. The students had spent a lot of time studying the ecological practices that benefit argan production — a big industry in the region, and a bigger point of pride for many of the people. There were presentations that detailed every step undergone in creating argan oil, workshops on uses for argan, and even a play about protecting argan trees.

I was impressed by the enthusiasm shared by the students and faculty for sharing their knowledge about the argan tree, as well as the depth of knowledge covered in middle school classes about the local ecosystem. In the United States, I learned nothing in class about the environment around me, while subjects like history and state politics were endlessly drilled every day. Although history and politics are important, I think it is important for schools to instill knowledge and respect for our environments, especially as climate change presents looming challenges to the stability of landscapes everywhere.

After the presentations, we had dinner with the kids and were shown around the campus. Pretty soon, my friends and I found a basketball court with a couple of balls nearby. We asked if we could shoot around, and the Amazigh-language teacher was happy to allow us. While getting used to the different rims, the professional dancers who had originally greeted us at the school entrance came up and asked if we wanted to play. Of the HAF interns, we were four, and of the dancers, they were four — good numbers for a full court game. Soon, we were running back-and-forth across the middle school court, the dancers moving light on their feet to get open and shoot, while the HAF interns used quick passing to try and open up lanes for flashy dunks on the short hoops.

As the sun began to set out on the west coast just beyond the school, we eight people from all around the world had been brought together by an urge that may have been more powerful than even music or food. And as we exchanged phone numbers to stay in contact throughout our time in Morocco, I think I realized why the government of Tiznit found sports to be just as important as culture and farming for the city. Something about a good game can bring together myriad people, even where language might fail.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Jun 16, 2022
The One Hundredth Anniversary of Al Mansour Eddahbi Middle School

By Ryan Winegardner | UVa/HAF student intern

May 26, 2022
Environmental activities in Taza

By Aziz Rahmouni | HAF Team

About Project Reports

Project reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you can recieve an email when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports without donating.

Sign up for updates

Organization Information

High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Yossef Ben-Meir
President of the High Atlas Foundation
New York City , NY United States
$56,406 raised of $100,000 goal
861 donations
$43,594 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

High Atlas Foundation has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Get incredible stories, promotions, and matching offers in your inbox

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.