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From Marrakesh to Figuig and back – a Moroccan story about Sustainability

By Kerstin Opfer

HAF Intern

 

“Morocco will surprise you every day. There will be no day without a good surprise.” I will always remember these words of Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, president of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF), when I first came to Marrakesh. And each day teaches me once more how right he was. During the last week I had the one-time opportunity to accompany HAF’s President and the retired Peace Corps Country Director of Morocco, Ellen Paquette, to a business trip around Morocco and experienced first-hand the magic of this country.

 

Our trip started with the annual tree planting celebration at the January 16th event in Temara-Skhirat, near Rabat. The High Atlas Foundation planted trees together with the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Dwight Bush, Sr., school children, and teachers. To host the very last public event of Ambassador Bush before he returned to the United States was an honour for HAF, and it took place on the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was breath-taking to see the student’s motivation when they recognized how volunteerism and combined community efforts are able to create sustainable development.

  

 

Propelled by this spirit we drove to Fes where we were welcomed warmly by Mustafa Mouslih, the director of the Association of Volunteer Development Experts. Professor Berrada, another member of the association invited us to his family, where we had a delicious meal, inspiring talks and music. Sitting together in their living room, singing “We are the world” accompanied by the guitar of the family’s son Amine will always be memorable for me. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality, their creativity and spirit.

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Growing trees with schoolchildren in five schools in Youssoufia: A sustainable act of HAF

HAF’s dream in the 2017 planting season is to reach new places; this dream came true with five schools in two communes (Gantour and Sbiaat) in the Province of Youssoufia: the Al Faouariaa, Inbiaat, and Sidi Ahmed primary schools; the High School Andalus; and the Al Banae Middle school.

On January 16th (annually on the third Monday of January), HAF’s Larbi Didouqen and Fatima Zahra Laaribi traveled to five schools throughout the day to celebrate a memorable planting event with members of local communities, including Amal Alghad Association for for Rural Woman and Child, Binae Association for Sustainable Development, Network Development Association, representatives for the provincial delegation of education in Yossoufia, as well as representatives of the communal council, presidents of parents associations and of course the directors of the five schools.

 

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Moroccan Girls’ School: A Shining Example

by Said Bennani

 

On January 16, 2017, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) distributed thousands of trees in 50 locations throughout 16 provinces in a coordinated national effort to raise awareness of the environment and of Morocco’s sustainable development goals.

One success story comes from the students who attend the Tidili-Mesfioua Boarding School for Girls. Last year HAF delivered 25 pomegranate trees, 50 almond trees, 50 pine trees, and 62 carob trees to this school. Though several of the trees were still small saplings when they were delivered, one year later the trees had not only survived but were thriving! HAF staff were delighted to see the trees growing so well and are very proud of the girls, teachers, and administrators who supported the trees’ growth.

 

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January 16th, MLK, US Ambassador Bush & HAF

 

 

The High Atlas Foundation had an incredible day - January 16th, Martin Luther King Day, HAF’s annual tree planting celebration.

We would like to greatly thank the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Dwight Bush, Sr., for joining the students of Larbi Doghmi and HAF’s President, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, as we together recognized the power and good of volunteerism and united as we planted trees.  Here we are on Morocco’s television Channel 1.

 

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Rhamna green schools

On the 16th of January 2017, MLK Day was the real event: HAF and its community, public, civil, and private partners had the goal of planting thousands of trees all around Morocco.

 
With schoolchildren and teachers in the Rhamna province of the Marrakech region, we planted more than 400 trees, including almond, pomegranate, and fig.  We started at a school with a green flag, an important symbol of the school's dedication to the environment.  I really was surprised that I found all the teachers and students waiting for us - it was a priceless moment in my life.
 
We presented HAF's activities.  We saw meaning in the students' smiles. 
 
The first tree we planted was almond, and there were many hands to help in this act as we together created a green space.  We did the same at each of eight schools on that day, with the same incredible receptions. 
 
We hope for many future projects soon.
 
Thanks to you, Dr. Yossef and all of HAF.
 
Rachid Montassir
HAF Intern-Volunteer

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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 332 Bleecker Street, #K110, NEW YORK, NY 10014
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