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

The High Atlas Foundation held a tree planting day in AL – Salaam School, where the nursery is located in Ifrane. Abdelilah, the nursery caretaker, led the process. There were 64 participants. Sixty were elementary school children aged between 10 and 12 (30 children were in the fifth grade, and 30 were in the sixth). Four teachers also participated.

If they would leave the trees without covering for a day or two, they would die because of the severe cold. So, they covered them with plastic as it shows in the picture above. The plastic keeps the cold from reaching the plants and in the same time it gives the trees the heat they need to grow.

Abdelilah together with the participants planted 54 trees in total, 2 fig trees and 52 almond trees. Before the planting, Abdelilah explained everything about trees and plants to the children; what do trees need to survive, how do we benefit from trees, and he also stressed the importance of planting trees to preserve the environment and make it greener.

After watching Abdelilah’s instructions, all the children and the participants learned how to plant a tree in a proper way. So everyone started planting their tree. The kids were very happy during this activity; they never participated in a process like that before! It was a new experience for everyone. Doing something new, something different is always exciting for children.

After the children planted all the trees, they started watering them and cleaned their surroundings. The plants always need constant caring and attention especially with water. Abdelilah also showed the children several ways of watering the trees. He said that too much water can also harm the trees so the watering process should be limited to a certain number in one week.

Drip irrigation is a valid solution. The two advantages of drip irrigation are that the water will be preserved, and the trees won’t be harmed from overwatering.

The children of the school had an amazing day. They enjoyed planting the trees and liked the new information they gained from the activity. We are all grateful for the High Atlas Foundation’s efforts, for including the children in the planting of trees and helping them understand how trees should be planted properly as well as how to preserve them. 

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Annually, on the third Monday of January, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) holds a high-profile day of national tree planting across Morocco.  On this day—the 21st of January this year—Fatima Zahra Laaribi, HAF’s financial Manager, and Abderrahim Baddah, HAF’s nursery caretaker, headed toward Amizmiz, a small mountain town located 60 kilometers southwest of Marrakech, to celebrate a memorable day of planting.

 

On that morning, in the girls’ dormitory, Ms. Laaribi started her talk with a saying by the Prophet Mohammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): "If the Final Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it" (as reported by Anas ibn Malik, a companion of the prophet). Then, administrative staff spoke about Quranic passages related to fig and olive trees and their benefits.  For instance, trees help people to become connected to the growing process while also providing a nutritious food source and food security. Planting fruit trees also has many helpful environmental benefits, from cleaner air to reduced energy costs. Together, we tried to raise awareness of the importance of planting trees in schools and sharing our insights about why we think that planting trees is important. For high school students studying life sciences and land, the trees will help them in their studies, as they can use the green space in their schools as a learning laboratory.

 

HAF provided 20 grape plants, 20 pomegranate saplings, and 20 fig saplings and involved a nursery caretaker who ensured that the saplings were planted in properly.

 

The president of the parent’s association and the administrative staff were eager and energetic as we pulled up to deliver the trees. They were so happy to be a part of the planting event and participated actively in the planting process as they showed their full engagement.

 

All of us took the initiative and planted in an organized way to ensure that all the saplings were planted on the ground and that we took their GPS points to track their growth in the future.

  

We were invited by the directors of the schools to make a short visit to the schoolyards to show us the potentials of the schools. We want to plant more trees with them in the coming year. We were very impressed by the environmental club that they created in their schools and how quickly growing beautifully even though it was established in last October. All the tiny saplings that the students planted this year had grown beautifully. Such an initiative in schools encourages us to work with them in the future. Moreover, the growth of these trees assured us that students, teachers, and headmasters will give great care to these trees. While visiting the schoolyard, many questions were raised such as, is there a nearby and dependable water source if we plant in the future?

 

If we plan to establish a nursery in this large spare space in the school is this will be this accepted by the delegation of education under the school plan?

 

We learned a lot about their environmental and ecological needs in terms of training of planting techniques. For Moroccan schools, it is important to be open to their partners and to involve all of them, specifically the civil society. Today Moroccan school is in dire need of openness to its surroundings if it wants to invest the highest potential available. But this will be achieved only if the educational administration changed its approach, which is - and unfortunately - away from activating the educational system. For the school to be open, the administration must firmly believe in this openness, its positive, and the important of the schools’ partners.

 

Administrative staff and the president of the parent’s association showed their appreciation, joy, and happiness. They were so excited to participate and assured us that their teachers and headmasters will take care of these trees and will water them.

  

The day ended with hope and excitement for the future, as directors and the president of the parent’s association and its members, expressed their gratitude and their desire to work closely with HAF. 

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Girls making the compost-model

 

I was excited about my first field visit and about getting to know what the High Atlas Foundation’s work looks like in action, because before starting my internship, I only saw the social media posts, blog articles, and photos.

 

This day, we didn’t travel long, as we went to two schools in Marrakech. The first one was a primary school with around 600 children. Esmae, the parent's associations president, welcomed us warmly at the door and we went to meet the children in their classroom.

 

Errachid, project manager at HAF, conducted an environmental and participatory workshop about decision making to protect the environment. The students were very active and had a lot to say. They had lots of ideas, like building an environmental club, creating trash places, and planting more trees. They learned more about global warming and the problems of flooding. The students decided to make some changes on their own to improve the environment—one mentioned that he will stop cutting flowers; other said they would stop throwing trash on the ground and that they would use water more responsibly.

 

Afterward, our dear volunteer Nisreen conducted an introduction-to-composting workshop in order to put into practice what they have learned and later do a compost-making activity outside with the children.

 

Then we gave the children some time to express their newly-learned ideas and visions of their future school in drawings. I asked some of the children what they’d like to change in their school, and they answered that they need more classrooms and that they would like to have more flowers in the school.

 

After a delicious breakfast, which was offered by the parents’ association to us, we started our composting workshop outside. Nisreen asked the kids “Who likes trash?” After a little confusion, everybody denied. She asked, “Do you want more or less trash? “ Of course, they answered “Less!“. They were very interested in the composting workshop to reduce at least the biodegradable waste. We brought some plastic bottles, cut the tops off, and put some holes in the bottom. Then we began layering the compost, and the students were excited to find some soil for the first layer, then they put some food waste, then soil again, food-waste, and soil. In the end, they added some water and placed the compost-models besides trees, so the trees can benefit from the nutrient-rich compost which is produced like that.

 

At the end of this visit, we did a tree-planting activity with the kids and talked to the head of the school about the problems the school is facing: they need more bathrooms and have a problem with water when it rains a lot.

 

When we arrived at the second school in Marrakech later that day, the president of the parents’ association welcomed us again very warmly and we met with the school director. We talked with him and some teachers and he told us about his year-long experiences working as head of a school in a rural area of Morocco.  Afterward, we met the kids and Errachid, talked with the children about decision-making processes and environmental issues. He practiced the model of pairwise ranking in order to figure out what their biggest challenges are in the school. Although I do not understand Darija (the Moroccan Arabic), just by observing their interactions, I was impressed by how the children listened and were eager to participate. Everyone was very attentive. At the end of this visit we had some tree-planting activities outside and after having some tea and snacks we said goodbye to this school as well.

 

Found some nice work about climate change and environmental issues!
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(Video)

ROOTING FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: COMBINING TREE-PLANTING ACTIVITIES AND ENVIRONMENTAL WORKSHOPS IN MOROCCO.

 

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) is committed to promoting sustainable development, using a participatory-action approach to address challenges identified by communities.  While partnering with community members, local associations, schools, municipal governing bodies, and other stakeholders, HAF believes in the efficacy of sustained communication and meaningful involvement in fostering skills and methods to enact positive change.  Following this model, the HAF team frequently couples tree-planting activities with students with environmental workshops with members of local associations and the community.

 

We are excited to share this video, capturing moments from tree-planting activities and environmental workshops in Morocco at the Bouchane High School-Secondary School complex in Rhamna and the Hassan I High School in Azilal in December 2018. The environmental workshops were led by the HAF team and university volunteers, and made possible thanks to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES).

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Greetings Friends,

 

Here we have a final moment in 2018 where we can give to uplift the course of families, communities, schools, cooperatives, women's groups, and youth.

 

Morocco is creating opportunities for its people by encouraging through its policies and programs public participation in all aspects of development. For local communities of the nation to fulfill this enormous opening for transformative change, also means that Morocco can become a hugely important model for other countries of Africa and the Middle East.

 

Here is one action we can take now together to fulfill this hope:

 

It is amazing the varied and profound benefits of organic fruit tree planting.  It promotes livelihoods, the environment, food security, nutrition, trade, culture, and self-reliance. It promotes women's liberationyouth’s advancement, and - when we organic certify their cultivation - tree planting brings growth and justice to communities that are marginalized.

 

Plant with us now before the season ends in March. Together we can achieve these truly good outcomes for people and nature, and to realize Moroccan dreams.

 

Most of all, we at the High Atlas Foundation wish you health, success, joy, fulfillment, and all that your heart seeks for yourselves and communities.

 

With warm regards and gratitude,

 

Yossef Ben-Meir
President
High Atlas Foundation
yossef@highatlasfoundation.org

 

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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
$48,996 raised of $100,000 goal
 
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