My Morocco experience

February 27, 2017

By Kerstin Opfer, HAF volunteer


 "Morocco is a country that reveals its essence only to those who take the time to draw water and to pour a pot of tea."  

- Moroccan Proverb


Time and tea - the two magic words in Morocco. Two of the most important lessons you will eventually learn in Morocco are that everything takes time, just be patient and to never say no to a cup of tea. Over the last 3 months I had the pleasure to work with the High Atlas Foundation and live in this wonderful and diverse country. I came here with the objective to experience the day-to-day life of a conservationist, to gain practical knowledge in the field of conservation and sustainable development and to truly get to know the Moroccan culture by living in it. Without any doubt, this time was one of the most valuable experiences that fully reinforced my plans to work in conservation and rural development as well as to continue my carrier in Morocco.



Rural Communities Growing Trees in the High Atlas Mountains

February 15, 2017

By Kerstin Opfer, HAF Volunteer


"A man of the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him said: With my own ears I heard the prophet, peace be upon him, say: Whoever plants a tree and works hard to keep it alive and takes care of it until it gives fruits, will be rewarded and every fruit will be a charity."


Tree Distribution Commune Zerkten

Over the last two days I helped Mohamed, a volunteer of the High Atlas Foundation, with the distribution of a thousand trees, 300 almond and 700 walnut trees, in the commune Zerkten in the High Atlas Mountains. After we picked up the trees from the nursery in Ourika, we took the transport from Ait Ourir and travelled to one of the most remote areas I have ever visited. The further we got the more difficult and onerous the road got to a point where the driver had to check the engine and tires every half an hour. On our way we met several farmers, provided them with trees and visited the land, where they intend to plant the trees. Seeing their thankfulness and appreciation gave me great trust that they will take good care of the trees so that they will grow up to be strong and healthy. Once mature, after approximately four years for almond and six years for walnut, every walnut tree will increase the farmer’s yearly income by 300 dollars and every almond tree by 15 dollars.  Almond trees can live longer than a century, and walnut more than four centuries.  This new revenue from the nuts will be a great help for these farmers to overcome subsistence agriculture and poverty and will promote the sustainable development of their local communities.


Achieve the dream of planting trees in schools

Amina El Hajjami Project manager with High Atlas Foundation

It's amazing when you have a dream in life and you see this dream becoming reality. This happened to me when I was a student in primary schools.

I walked 6 km from my home to my school and on the road; all the farms have trees, mostly olive trees. My school just had one big eucalyptus tree. I asked myself, who planted this beautiful trees that give shade to the students and why didn't we have more trees in my school and if we want trees, who can help schools planting them. A lot of question in my memory and I have recalled them when I started working with High Atlas Foundation.



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.


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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HAF tweets

HafFdtn #HAF gives me important experiences in my life, and the last one was meeting with farmers in Ouirgane commune and discussing their needs.
HafFdtn New blog post by HAF interns Jana and Maurice detailing their time in Azzaden Valley!!!! Check it out!!
HafFdtn First day we watered more than 300 Apple trees with a farmer from Ouirgane commune #HAF #our_Communities #Morocco.
HafFdtn The people who have few to give, give more than anyone else.#tiziane#firstday#HAF#lostinnature#morocco#highatlas#azzadenvalley#farmers
HafFdtn The second #HAF's step in Ouirgane commune was reflected in another workshop trying to find out the priorities in the villages #Morocco
HafFdtn Another wonderful experience in #Ouirgane_Commune with the active population by meetings and workshops. #HAF #Environment #Morocco
HafFdtn Maurice, Jana and I are extremely happy to help farmers in their fields and note their needs and problems. #HAF #Sustainable_Development
HafFdtn RT @bradjanocha: Use @Ecosia to help @HafFdtn plant trees in Morocco! Excited to see this partnership in action #MondayMotivation https://t…

HAF in Morocco

High Atlas Foundation
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