Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens

by Global Diversity Foundation
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens
Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens

Since we reported last, the 153 Dar Taliba students left the boarding house to continue their studies remotely at home, due to the closure of schools in Morocco as part of national COVID-19 measures. Despite the start of the new school year two weeks ago, schools remain closed until further notice in certain regions, including in the Ourika Valley, where Dar Taliba is located. We were so excited to welcome new students and introduce them to the Dar Taliba school garden project but we’ll have to be patient a little bit longer.

Although we miss the girls at Dar Taliba terribly - and the life they bring to the garden - we continued to take care of the seedlings the students planted, as well as the vegetables and the medicinal and aromatic plants they cultivated during the last school year. “The girls have done such an amazing job in the garden, keeping up with the garden work these past few months has not been the same without their help and enthusiasm,” Dar Taliba gardener El Housseine said.

We recently spoke with Meryam, an ex Dar Taliba student who participated in our weekly garden training sessions two years ago. “I spent two years at Dar Taliba and I loved spending time in the school garden,” she said. “In the first year I learned a lot about how to take care of the earth and soil health. Later on, we started practicing techniques such as making compost and organic fertiliser.” Through our garden training programme, we are actively engaging Dar Taliba students with local biodiversity conservation efforts and rediscovering local cultural heritage related to plants. “I really miss Dar Taliba and the outdoor activities in the garden,” Meryam says. “I hope new students will learn as much as I did and have fun together with harvesting vegetables and planting seeds.”

We also met with Dar Taliba director Fatema, who is anxious to welcome the students back to the boarding house. “The school garden brings so much joy to the students in residence,” she says. “It breaks their daily routine of going to class and teaches them about important traditional plants as well as the values of teamwork.”

While we wait for the students to return to school, we are meeting with the Dar Taliba team to come up with an exciting plan and programme in order to continue our important work with the Dar Taliba girls and to discuss the impact COVID-19 has on their education. In the meantime, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram or visit our website for more updates about the Dar Taliba school garden and students.

GlobalGiving is currently offering matching funds!

GlobalGiving’s 5-day Little by Little Campaign is currently on, which means donations up to $50 will be matched by 50%. If you’d like to make an additional gift to this project, please do consider doing so before 18 September 11.59pm ET (Friday).

With a $15 donation, we are able to buy 30 aromatic plants for the garden.

With a $50 donation, we are able to purchase 5 fruit trees for the orchard.

Thank you.

Dar Taliba school garden ready to welcome students
Dar Taliba school garden ready to welcome students
Dar Taliba team takes care of the garden
Dar Taliba team takes care of the garden
Hope stones crafted by the girls last school year
Hope stones crafted by the girls last school year
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A lot has changed since our last report in January. The world turned upside down due to a global pandemic, and so has our school garden project for 153 students at the Dar Taliba boarding house for girls. 

Due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Morocco, all schools are closed until September 2020. Unfortunately, this means that the Dar Taliba students are currently unable to attend their classes and their weekly garden training sessions. However, we are pleased that we were able to carry out our outdoor garden activities as usual for the most part of the school year.

During the months of February and March, the girls participated in 13 garden training sessions and planted hundreds of seeds in their greenhouse, including aromatic and medicinal plants such as sage (Salvia officinalis) and lavender (Lavandula officinalis). They also made an additional pile of fresh compost, prepared a natural pesticide and planted dozens of  baby vegetables in the garden, including carrots, radishes, eggplants and turnips.

More recently, our Dar Taliba project was featured in Evidence of Hope: Women of Morocco, part of a series of portraits of people and projects from around the world who are successfully addressing global challenges. The Dar Taliba students proudly shared their skills and knowledge with the Evidence of Hope team and we can’t wait to organise a screening of the short film once they return to school. They also welcomed other visitors to their school garden over the past few months, including a host from Radio Amazigh, a local radio programme that highlights stories from Amazigh rural communities linked to the environment and women’s empowerment. Four students were brave enough to participate in interviews and they did an excellent job! 

Thanks to the generous support of our GlobalGiving donors, this project is flourishing and the Dar Taliba school garden continues to grow into a wonderful outdoor space for students to learn and grow together. We are so very grateful.

Luckily we ended this year’s school garden training programme with an exciting final activity before the lockdown started. Perhaps you remember the drawing activity we organised last year with a group of Dar Taliba students? Based on this activity and others, we developed a colourful booklet that features local and useful plant products selected by the students we worked with in different regions in the High Atlas, including Dar Taliba. The “Amazigh Household Basket” features beautiful drawings produced by the students, including olive trees, corn, cherries, carrots and thyme. We distributed this labour of love among the Dar Taliba students in March and they were so proud to see some of their drawings featured inside.The booklet is available online for anyone who is curious to have a look!

Although the students won’t be back at Dar Taliba until September, we are working hard to create an exciting programme for next school year with new educational materials that focus on the importance of health for humans as well as nature. Until then, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram or visit our website for more updates about our future plans for the Dar Taliba school garden and students.

Proud Dar Taliba students show their drawings
Proud Dar Taliba students show their drawings
Baby figs growing in the Dar Taliba garden
Baby figs growing in the Dar Taliba garden
Dar Taliba students during a radio interview
Dar Taliba students during a radio interview
The students' aromatic and medicinal plants
The students' aromatic and medicinal plants
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Since the beginning of the school year, the 153 Dar Taliba students have been doing an amazing job in the school garden, which needed a lot of work after a long and dry summer! So far, the girls have participated in 18 trainings during which they studied the uses of various plants and worked on several permaculture techniques, including making an organic pesticide.

During a vegetable planting activity last month, we talked to Laila, Dar Taliba training facilitator and permaculture expert from our partner Radiant Design, about her work with the Dar Taliba students. “Through our activities in the garden, I really hope the girls gain a better understanding of how nature works and how we can take better care of it by using practices and techniques that support nature instead of harming it”, she says.

An Amazigh woman herself, with a similar rural background to most of the Dar Taliba students, Laila has been working with the girls since the very beginning of our school garden training programme, which began three years ago. Together with Laila, Dar Taliba gardener Al Housseine also participates in trainings with the girls to give them a helping hand and to demonstrate specific gardening techniques when needed. “I think it’s a great practice for the students to work together in the garden, it encourages their education and most of all they learn many things from each other.” 

In December, the girls prepared numerous trays in which they planted vegetable seeds, which are now growing strong in the greenhouse until they’re ready to be planted in the garden in the coming spring. If the weather conditions remain good for planting, the girls will be harvesting kilos of healthy fresh vegetables very soon, transforming them into delicious school meals. “My favourite moment in the garden is when we are harvesting vegetables and students start eating them directly from the garden.” says Laila, “I think growing their own food is a very exciting and rewarding experience.”

It’s thanks to the generous support of our GlobalGiving donors, that we are able to provide these seeds and continue our garden trainings throughout the rest of the school year. We are very grateful.

Although the snow capped mountains of the High Atlas look beautiful, the Dar Taliba team and students are impatient for the start of spring. “It’s my favourite time of year” says Al Housseine. “We see the garden bloom and watch the fruit trees come alive again”. 

This spring, we have lots of other exciting activities planned with the Dar Taliba students, and we can’t wait to share more. Until then, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram or visit our website for more updates about upcoming activities and progress made in the Dar Taliba school garden. 

The Dar Taliba team in action
The Dar Taliba team in action
Nursing the seedlings in the greenhouse
Nursing the seedlings in the greenhouse
Treating the plants with organic pesticide
Treating the plants with organic pesticide
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After a well-deserved summer break, we’re so excited to report that the Dar Taliba students are back! What’s more, the boarding school is at its full capacity this school year, with a total of 153 students currently in residence and 50 other girls still on the waiting list.

To kick off the beginning of the school year, we organised an exciting exchange at Dar Taliba with a group of 18 Semester at Sea (SAS) university students. This group of international students participated in a field programme in Morocco to learn more about local biodiversity and indigenous Amazigh communities in the High Atlas. As part of this programme, they spent one day at Dar Taliba participating in a weekly garden training with the students in residence. This exchange was aimed at empowering the Dar Taliba girls and encouraging them to share their experiences and transmit their knowledge and skills with a group of students they would usually not have the opportunity to interact with. 

In mixed groups, the SAS and Dar Taliba students learned about composting, creating liquid organic fertiliser and seed collection practices. As you can see from the pictures below, they quickly put theory into practice, following the Dar Taliba’s students’ example.

Finally, they all participated in a fun quiz on essential oils, where they had to “smell and guess” the plant from which the essential oil was extracted. I’m sure you can imagine the Dar Taliba students impressed our quiz master and SAS students; after all, they spent so much time working with these plants during last year’s garden trainings. 

We are super proud of the Dar Taliba girls for sharing their local know-how and skills with the Semester at Sea students, and for practicing their English while doing so!  “We really hope to organise more exchanges of this kind in the future”, Dar Taliba director Fatima said. “The encouraging words of the SAS students about the importance of education and the interest they showed in the culture and lives of the Dar Taliba girls in general has given us so much energy and motivation to continue and enhance our school garden project!”.

Since the exchange, the girls have started their weekly trainings with the support of our local partner and permaculture experts from Radiant Design. Last week, they planted lots of vegetables including carrots, beans, peas, turnips and much more. The girls also learned mulching techniques, during which layers of organic material are applied to the surface of the soil. They learned that mulching helps to retain water in order to keep the roots moist. It also improves the soil’s structure and helps regulate its temperature.

We can’t wait to move forward with our garden trainings and introduce our new students to the programme! Until our next report, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or visit our website for more updates.

Your donations have made it possible for the continuity of this project, and for this, we thank you!

A happy group after a day well spent in the garden
A happy group after a day well spent in the garden
Dar Taliba students during the essential oil quiz
Dar Taliba students during the essential oil quiz
Many hands make light work (composting)
Many hands make light work (composting)
Planting delicious vegetables
Planting delicious vegetables
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Since we reported last, we finalised our second year of weekly garden trainings. This would not have been possible without the generous donations of our GlobalGiving donors and we are very grateful for the support. In collaboration with our local partner Radiant Design, we organised 46 trainings this past school year for all 143 students covering a variety of topics including cultivating organic crops, composting, making plant cuttings, mulching, making organic fertiliser and much more.

During the final training of the school year, we gathered the students in the recreational garden to discuss everything they had learned as part of their programme during this past year. We also walked around the plant nursery to recapitulate what they have learned about different plants endemic to the region and their traditional uses. Common sage (Salvia officinalis L.) for example is cultivated for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It is known to have antiseptic qualities good for sore throats and bad digestion. The girls also talked about lavender, rosemary and basil – which is locally known as “Zaatar” and is used as a traditional medicine to reduce inflammation.

From our last report you might remember that 30 Dar Taliba students participated in the #MedStoryPrize, a short story competition aimed at celebrating Mediterranean culture and biodiversity. The winners were announced last month, and we are thrilled to let you know that two Dar Taliba students won 2nd place with their stories “The farmer and nature” and “The struggle of a student”. Both girls received a prize for their story during a small celebration ceremony on the final day of the school year. “We are all super happy and proud that Oumaima and Salma won 2nd place in this creative writing competition”, Dar Taliba director says.

After our little ceremony, we distributed vegetables from the final harvest of the season, including green beans, zucchini, kale and tomatoes. The girls also brought home a selection of medicinal and aromatic plants such as rosemary, mint and lavender which they will plant in their communities.

As you’ll see in the picture below, the Dar Taliba gardeners are taking good care of the gardens until the girls come back from school vacation. They have recently constructed a low fence to protect the garden and have been busy maintaining the garden and removing weeds. With their help, we also installed a second green house which will be used next school year during trainings on planting seeds and cultivating medicinal and aromatic plants.

We look forward to kicking of a new school year in September and welcoming new students to the programme! Until then, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram, or visit our website for more updates.

Dar Taliba garden with new greenhouse and fence
Dar Taliba garden with new greenhouse and fence
Celebration of the #MedStoryPrize winners
Celebration of the #MedStoryPrize winners
See you next school year !
See you next school year !
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Global Diversity Foundation

Location: Bristol, VT - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Pommelien Da Silva Cosme
Canterbury, Kent United Kingdom
$28,486 raised of $30,000 goal
 
403 donations
$1,514 to go
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