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Les trésors cachés de Sidi Zouine

Par Karam Yann

Volontaire FHA

 

Honnêtement je ne savais pas comment commencer cet article, ce qui m’attendait durant cette sortie allait au-delà de ce que j’imaginais. Commençons alors par le tout début.

 

A huit heures du matin, je rencontrai mes deux compagnons du voyage, Kerstin et Juliana pour prendre un grand taxi de la gare de Bab Doukkala (Marrakech). Le trajet ne fut pas très long et moins d’une heure plus tard, nous arrivâmes à Sidi Zouine, une petite bourgade dans la préfecture de Marrakech… ou plutôt ce qui me semblait être.

 

Après avoir pris le petit déjeuner, nous allâmes à la rencontre de Mustafa, un membre actif de plusieurs associations locales dont l’association Al-Wafae pour le développement. Nous marchâmes jusqu’à l’hôpital de Sidi Zouine ou nous rencontrâmes d’autres bénévoles, venus spécialement pour participer à cette journée importante : des membres des collectivités territoriales locales, des instituteurs et institutrices, des étudiants et même des petits élèves du primaire et du collège. Après avoir choisi le terrain au sein de l’hôpital où devrait être plantées les plantes médicinales et les amandiers, nous commençâmes à creuser les trous pour les plantes. Tout le monde a participé dans cette opération : femmes, hommes, enfants et même quelques patients de l’hôpital sont venus assister à cette tâche, attirés par les applaudissements des gens et les cris de joie des enfants. 

 

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Au final, ce sont 21 géraniums, 8 romarins, 4 sauges officinales, 5 lavandes, 3 thyms et 20 amandiers qui ont été plantés. Après cette activité, nous fûmes invités à prendre le thé en compagnie de Mustafa et Malika, une conseillère communale et militante associative.

 

Après avoir reçu et distribué les certificats de participations aux bénévoles, nous fûmes invités à visiter les lieus historiques du village. C’est alors, à ma grande surprise, je découvris les vestiges d’une cité ancienne. Je me rendais compte que Sidi Zouine n’était pas seulement un petit village mais une commune urbaine avec plus de 25.000 habitants dont les premières traces de civilisations remontent à des siècles.

 

Nous visitâmes l’école coranique de la ville, l’une des plus prestigieuse du Maroc, le grand Souk hebdomadaire et enfin, le tombeau du fondateur du village le Cheikh Sidi Zouine.

 

Nous fûmes, par la suite, invités à déjeuner en compagnie des bénévoles, dans la demeure de Malika, toujours frappés par cet accueil chaleureux et convivial des locaux. Après un bon repas copieux, nous primes quelques photos avec les enfants de la ville et les bénévoles avant de se diriger vers la gare pour prendre le bus du retour.

 

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Vous comprenez maintenant, que ce n’était pas seulement une sortie de routine pour planter des arabes et des plantes, mais ce fut, pour Kerstin Juliana et moi-même, une leçon de vie de voir autant d’engouement de ces gens pour participer dans cette activité, nous fûmes tous admirés par l’accueil exceptionnel de ces gens et l’histoire riche de la ville, méconnue des marocains.

 

Nous rentrâmes à Marrakech, plus enthousiastes que jamais de vouloir servir l’humanité et changer le monde par des petites actions, car nous sommes ce que nous pensons et avec nos pensées, nous créons le monde.

 

Save Oxygen!!!: High Atlas Foundation’s Tree Planting Day

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Youssef El Mousaoui

HAF Volunteer

 

Once in a lifetime experience. Annually, on the third Monday of January, the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) organizes a nationwide tree planting campaign. On this January 21st 2019, the HAF team planted trees with communities in many places, including Sidi Bouathmane (Ait Imloul). Ait Imloul is an arid village about 20 kilometers away from Bouathmane, a small village where there are large and quite modest sized farms.  Despite the ack of water in the area, they manage to cultivate fine and beautiful farms.

 

HAF’s project manager, Said Bennani, led the way from our office in Marrakech to the not-so-far province, driving with many medicinal and fruiting plants in the trunk. Once we got there, we met the very nice Yassine who showed us where we would be planting the saplings and stayed with us all until the end of the day.

 

The day was a spectacular one; the people of Ait Imloul welcomed us with their warm hearts. They are very good and respectful people. As we planted, we talked to the farmers there about HAF’s campaigns and they told us about their farms.  Some of the farmers wanted only a few plants since their farms were already full; others wanted more. One farmer wanted more than 150 plants!  We couldn’t deliver all those plants at that moment but we made plans to deliver more in the near future. He was happy with the plans made together and he told us he’ll be waiting the day we return with the number he wanted, maybe even more. As we kept going, we listened also to their challenges and how they manage to preserve their farms even with the lack of water they face. The day went by very smoothly and pleasantly.

 

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We concluded by planting various plants along the wall of a cemetery, with the help of the town’s children, hoping one day the trees will grow to be beautiful and reduce the loneliness of the cemetery. We summed up the amazing day as we said our goodbyes to the people of Ait Imloul and left with promises of repeating what we did today, even hoping to make it better the next time.

 

Thus concludes the beautiful day at Sidi Bouathmane, Ait Imloul. We returned to headquarters with beautiful memories.

 

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About the Tree Day

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by Juliana B. Feltrin

HAF Intern

 

The HAF National Tree Day was very rewarding. We went to the Sidi Zouine Hospital, to plant trees. We were greeted by Mustafa, the president of Association El Wafa, who told us about the place. We started counting the amount of trees that would be planted, together with children and women. After planting the trees, everyone who helped earned a certificate of appreciation. It was a very beautiful atmosphere and everyone loved it.

 

After we finished planting, we went with Mustafa to see the village. We walked to a school for boys, where they had a beautiful garden.

 

We took some photos and were invited to lunch. Lunch was divided into two parts: In the first round, we ate the famous couscous and in the second round we ate tajine, another typical Moroccan food.

 

Everyone was happy with the day and with the trees we planted. For me, it was a very special day because I had never planted a tree before. It was very exciting and, for sure, when I go back to Brazil I will plant some trees in my house.

 

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HAF’s National Tree Planting in Morocco, 21 January 2019, MLK Day-USA

It was a beautiful day today, the 21st of January 2019, meeting farmers and members of associations, meeting high school students, kindergarteners, and municipal representatives. We loved today, learning from elderly people who planted fig trees 80 years ago, and from volunteers who planted pomegranate trees at a newly constructed school.  We were in villages, cities, in the Sahara and mountains.  We are all home now. 

 

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The beauty and the everlasting memories from today--a day of national tree planting for the High Atlas Foundation and its partners in Morocco--are due to its great variation and amazing diversity, the heartfelt expressions, the hard work, the commitments to the future, and the thoughts about the past, all coming together in moments that bring life’s fulfillment.

 

You may not have joined us today.  We hope you plant where you are, when you can.  If you like to plant with us in Morocco before the end of March, please reach out and we will provide the support we are able. 

 

The recurring theme that emerged today is that the life cycle, the growth and unknowable experiences that trees endure, also resonate with people, as we live not knowing what tomorrow will bring.  And so we live in faith that our future will deliver ever-better and everlasting good for all ourselves and beautiful nature.

 

Trees for Learning and Teaching

by Rachael Diniega

Peace Corps Morocco Volunteer

 

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My town’s middle and high school campus with olive trees

 

Fifty trees for the middle and high school, and over one hundred trees for the elementary school, equaling more than 150 chances for youth in my town to dig in the soil, care for another living organism, and learn about both agriculture and small-scale ecosystems. Or so it was determined in coordination with community members in the town where I live when High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Project Manager Said Bennani came to visit its schools.

 

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I work at a youth center in a small, rural village in the Middle Atlas Mountains southeast of Fes. My counterpart Khaoula, a high school teacher and volunteer with World Merit—an organization that encourages local activists to promote the Sustainable Development Goals, and I have sought to expand environmental learning opportunities for the youth with whom we work. In August, we attended a training with other Peace Corps Volunteers in our Environment Working Group at the HAF office in Marrakech, learning about HAF resources and how to use the participatory approach with our community-based development projects.

 

Inspired by the enthusiasm shown by HAF employees, Khaoula came to me with the idea of requesting trees from HAF to plant at her high school. She said she would talk to her school principal and students. Both ended up encouraging her to organize a tree-planting event. In early December, she invited Said to visit our mountain village.

 

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Said, the elementary school principal, and Khaoula

 

After talking with the principal of the high school, Said suggested the addition of fruit trees along the edges of the campus in addition to the existing olive trees scattered throughout the grounds. Then Said asked if we could visit the neighboring elementary school, where we discovered that the principal was already enthusiastic about creating a long-term environmental program! The tree planting would be an opportunity to initiate it. Leading us around the school grounds, he shared ideas for teaching his students: creating simple DIY (do-it-yourself) watering systems, grafting fruit trees, building and taking care of a duck habitat, and recycling discarded materials into plant pots. We all left feeling hopeful not only for his students, but also for the students at the other elementary schools spread out along the mountain and valley: inshallah, they will be able to learn from his upcoming experiences.

 

After a brief visit to a government-run tree nursery combating desertification, we said goodbye to Said. But that is not the end. Next to come—Khaoula will work with the school principals to ensure that they have materials and supplies for the plantings, coordinate with the nursery and HAF to obtain trees and soil, and plan environmental education lessons to accompany the tree-planting with participating youth. The planting is scheduled for a few weeks into the next school semester—updates will be forthcoming!

 

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Tree nursery in a nearby douar

 

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