• Clean Drinking Water
  • Cultural Projects

    During a one year period from September 2012 - September 2013, the High Atlas Foundation and its partners conducted a preservation and maintenance program for the Moslem, Christian, and Jewish cemeteries in Essaouira, which stand as present-day reminders of the multicultural past of this small city and Morocco at-large, where people of different faiths shared a town, a life, work, a culture, and language.

    In order to perpetuate the memory and to re-kindle the spirit of this rich past, the High Atlas Foundation involved local associations, community leaders, students and teachers in the project over the course of one year. HAF uses a participatory development approach that includes beneficiaries as active partners in every step of the development process – from prioritizing goals to project implementation and management to monitoring and evaluation. Key to this approach is the facilitation of community planning meetings where beneficiaries together determine the types of projects they want to undertake and create action plans. During the project, we held weekly community meetings with representatives of local civil society and engaged more than 120 individuals in the planning and implementation of the project.
    The preservation of these sacred sites included:
    -    The deciphering and cataloguing of epitaphs in the three cemeteries;
    -    The rehabilitation of three cemeteries; the Christian, new Jewish and Muslim Chouhadda cemeteries including clearing, planting and restoration activities;
    -    The integration of over 400 local young people in a programme of educational presentations and visits to the cemeteries;
    -    The creation of a self-guided brochure for visitors to Essaouira and to the cemeteries and the conception of a brochure by school students for their peers about Essaouira's history and cemeteries;
    -    Community activities in the cemeteries to raise awareness of the cultural heritage they represent and to integrate the local community into their care and maintenance;
    -    The integration of cemetery guardians in the cleaning, clearing, restoration and planting in the three cemeteries;
    -    The organisation of community meetings, awareness-raising activities, media outreach, youth activities and a conference on the issues around Morocco and Essaouira’s multi-cultural unity and diversity;
    -    Contact with and capacity building of over 120 members of civil society organizations in Essaouira; and
    -    The creation of sustainable partnerships for the development of further activities in the fields of cultural preservation and human development in the Province of Essaouira and elsewhere in Morocco.

    By making the cemeteries more inviting, encouraging more first-time visitors, and helping the younger generation remember their roots of peaceful co-existence, the goal has been to capture for future generations the spirit of Moslems and Jews, Europeans and Africans sharing a pleasant, flourishing, diverse, and united life together.
    A full set of photos related to the cemetery preservation project is available on the HAF Flickr feed

    The High Atlas Foundation is currently proposing a further project for Essaouira to continue the intercultural heritage work begun under this project. The goal of this new project is to initiate a knowledge preservation and awareness program for the buildings of the Essaouira medina which pertain to the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faiths (ie mosques, zawiyas, churches, synagogues and religious schools) and develop the historical narrative of these communities. This built heritage – which has variously disappeared, fallen into disuse, is used for alternative purposes or some is undergoing preservation programs – stands, like the cemeteries (to those who are aware of its existence) as a reminder of the rich multicultural past of this port city. The High Atlas Foundation seeks to identify a building of each religious faith for restoration, rehabilitation and use by the local community today.

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High Atlas Foundation
4 Rue Qadi AyaadAl Manar 4A - 3rd floor - Appt. 12 El Harti, Guéliz, MARRAKESH 40.000 - Morocco

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High Atlas Foundation
High Atlas Foundation 511 Sixth Avenue, #K110, NEW YORK, NY 10011

Phone: +1 (646) 688-2946
Fax: +1 (646) 786-4780

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