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A Statement of Congratulations to our friends at Ecosia!

By Lloyd Farley

Marrakech

 

Our friends and partners at Ecosia have just met a wonderful landmark and we are happy to have been a part of their wonderful project. Just yesterday the folks at Ecosia celebrated planting ten million trees and we were happy to join over livestream from Morocco.

 

For those who do not know, Ecosia is a search engine that pledges to plant a tree each time someone makes a search. It is an ingenious method that enables people to make a difference in the world even as they go about their daily routine in the office, classroom or at home.

 

We with High Atlas Foundation in Morocco are glad to say that we have seen the difference that the users and proprietors of Ecosia are bringing to the world with our very own eyes. Just as Ecosia is present in several cotenants helping plant trees, we have started our very own nurseries with the support of Ecosia. The partnership with Ecosia has enabled us with the High Atlas Foundation to continue our projects of extending hands on green education with school children, creating environmental benefits through tree planting and enhancing the incomes of rural incomes by planting high value fruit trees. From our perspective, we know that each tree is making a difference, given the global reach of Ecosia, we can only imagine the scale of their impact.

 

Once again, we would like congratulate and thank the folks at Ecosia and the crucial work they are doing in connecting a global community to the needs of our planet and the people that live on it.

 

 

 -The writer is a third year Anthropology student from the University of Texas at Austin and intern with the High Atlas Foundation.

The High Atlas Foundation and Holistic Sustainable Development

   

 

By Jan Thibaut 

HAF Intern 

Tassa Ouirgane                         

      The High Atlas Foundation and Holistic Sustainable Development Hi there! The name’s Jan Thibaut, a 25-year old master student and new intern with the High Atlas Foundation. Over the next couple of months I will try to make you, the reader, acquainted with the foundation and its partners, Moroccan culture (both rooted in the Arabic as well as the Taselhit/Berber traditions), and my challenges, successes and failures whilst living in a small community in the mountains of the High Atlas range. I’m do this to document my experiences as a newcomer to the field of development, to spread information and awareness about the challenges we’re facing in today’s world and the organisations trying to tackle them, and to present this wonderfully inviting culture as I explore it myself.

     The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) was founded in 2000 by a motivated group of former Peace Corps volunteers from the United States. All of them gained an extensive knowledge of Moroccan culture, language and traditions during their own immersive stays in the country, and have put together a diverse team of Moroccan, American and international enthusiasts. Project managers, volunteers, interns, engineers and (inter)national experts alike come together from very different backgrounds to work with the local population to bring about lasting, sustainable transformation.

 Part of HAF’s motivated, international staff, with my as fresh arrival standing in the background Now, explaining HAF’s multitude of different projects and envisioned goals can be a tricky thing, partly because of the holistic interpretation of societal transformation that lies at the base of their conception. The foundation does not limit its scope to purely economic, social, or environmental factors in society (if such things even exist), but looks at the interplay between them, the cyclic stream of challenges and possibilities that feed into each other and determine most of our day-today activities. By taking this assortment of different viewpoints into account, obstacles to the quality of life can be tackled in a holistic, sustainable and lasting fashion. To clarify this trail of thought, let’s take soil erosion due to deforestation and agricultural exploitation as an example.

  When viewed as a purely environmental problem, an easy solution presents itself: by giving the land a protected status (by turning it into a national park for example) and placing it under the control of a governmental forestry department, the harmful effects of agricultural overuse can be stopped, trees will be given a chance to grow, and soil erosion will be halted. Sounds like a perfect plan, right? However, this environmentally motivated solution will have harmful effects on the social and economic parts of daily life: the loss of farming lands will lead to a decrease of income for the local population, which will negatively affect their health, sanitation, education, mobility, and so on. It is this interconnectedness that turns developmental work into a minefield of unexpected consequences, with HAF wielding the metal detector to safely navigate through.

 

 

At the core of all of HAF’s projects and initiatives is the Participatory Approach, aimed at empowering community beneficiaries and placing them at the centre of the entire process. Community planning meetings are organised in which local inhabitants formulate their ideas and opinions regarding possible projects, from conception and implementation to monitoring and evaluation. In this process, we can already see two of HAF’s goals at play; Firstly, they aim to train people from the Moroccan communities to intervene as facilitators by organising workshops and working together with schools and the university. Secondly, they try to form the bridge between the wishes of the communities and the help offered by (inter)national organisations and governments. They do so because, oftentimes, gaining access to the funding provided by governmental and developmental bodies is a complicated process that takes place outside of the reach of the actual (rural) population.

 

How the ideas and aspirations of community members get put into practice will become clear during blogs to come!

BIO: This blog tries to paint a picture of HAF’s mission and vision, based on an intern’s point of view as newcomer to the field of development.

مؤسسة الأطلس الكبير و الملحمة

 

الرشيد منتصر.

مشرف على مشروع سامي.

مؤسسة الأطلس الكبير. 

شكل الإفطار الجماعي بكنيس بيث-إل في جيليز-مراكش ملحمة كبيرة بين المسلمين المغاربة و اليهودالمغاربة. هذه الأخيرة التي شكلت حضارة و مجتمع قديم، حيث كان هناك ما بين 250000 إلى 350000 يهودي في المملكة بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، التي أعطت المغرب أكبر جالية يهودية في العالم الإسلامي. بيد أنه لا يزال هناك أقل من 2500 شخص.

المسلمون واليهود المغاربة هم مجتمعات موجودة جنبا إلى جنب في وئام و صداقة. عاشو في بيوت مماثلة، قادو حياة مماثلة، و حضرو نفس المدارس، و عملو في نفس الوظائف و قضو اوقاتا عظيمة معا كأصدقاء.

 

في 18 يونيو 2017، تم ٱستدعاء مؤسسة الأطلس الكبير من قبل رئيس الطائفة اليهودية بجهة مراكش آسفي، السيد جاكي كادوش لإفطار جماعي في الكنيس المذكور سابقا

إلى جانب السيد الوالي لجهة مراكش أسفي تم حضور جمعية ميمونة، مؤسسة الأسرة إكشتاين، الزمالة الدولية للمسيحيين واليهود، و وفد من وزارة الأوقاف و الشؤون الإسلامية، وأيضا كان هناك مجموعة من الشخصيات المهمين، بلغ مجموعهم  حوالي 70 شخصا.

على الساعة 19:30 بدأت تفوح روائح الأطعمة الشهية كما بدأت تظهر الطقوس الرمضانية الجميلة في مكان مفتوح رائع بالكنيس، مع فرقة موسيقية مغربية جيدة من الطرب اليهودي. كانوا هناك أكثر من ستة طاولات تضم مسلمين و يهود مغاربة يتحدثون مع بعضهم البعض، حيث تظهر ابتسامات جميلة مرتسمة على وجوههم نابعة من قلوبهم.

بعد إفطار مفعم بالوجبات المغربية اللذيذة، ذهبنا لصلاة المغرب، حيث تلك كانت المرة الأولى التي أصلي فيها ب "الكنيس" إلى جانب السيد الوالي و آخرون، فعلا كان ذلك جد عاطفي بأجواء من الخشوع.

 

رحب السيد جاكي كادوش بجميع الحضور حيث تحدث عن العلاقات الوطيدة و الطيبة بين المسلمين واليهود و على ما وجدنا عليه أجدادنا من تعايش ديني و وحدة. كما تحدث على مجهودات مؤسسة الأطلس الكبير و ما قامت به من أعمال مع ساكنة حي الملاح العتيق خلال هذا الشهر الكريم، التي تجلت في عقد اجتماعات تشاركية مع السكان المحلين، حيث خرجو بمجموعة من الإحتياجات و المطالب المهمة

 

 

قدم السيد كادوش، السيد بالون الذي رحب بالحضور كذالك، و تحدث قليلا عن قصته

عندما غاذر المغرب في السنة الثالثة من عمره، و عاد الآن محاولا الحفاظ على التراث اليهودي المغربي.

نيابية عن الدكتور يوسف بن مير، رئيس مؤسسة الأطلس الكبير، أتى السيد كادوش للحديث عنه و ماقدمه للمملكة المغربية منذ سنة 1993 إلى يومنا هذا.

كما عبر السيد الوالي عن سعادته بأن يكون في ذلك الإفطار الجماعي و بين تلك المنظمات النشيطة، حيث أعرب عن تقديره لجميع مجهوداتهم الجبارة من أجل إقامة علاقات طيبة بين المسلمين واليهود. كما هنأ مؤسسة الأطلس الكبير و جمعية ميمونة على العمل الرائع الذي قامو به مع ساكنة حي الملاح، و أن بفضل الإفطارات الجماعية و المقاربات التشاركية التي نظمت هناك تمكنا من الكشف والتعرف عن مجموعة من المطالب للساكنة كما ساعدو على تحديد الأهداف المهمة للمشروع.

ختم هذا الحدث الجميل بنغمات موسيقية غرناطية رائعة في ذلك المكان المبهج مع هؤلاء الضيوف الطيبين.

يهودي أو مسلم، نحن في الأصل مغاربة نشارك ثقافتنا من زمان، نعيش في سلام و تعايش ديني واض

The High Atlas Foundation & The Epic

Errachid Montassir

HAF’s Project Manager

Marrakech

 

 

A major epic was the group Iftar (the break of the Ramadan fast) at the Beth-El

Synagogue in Gueliz, Marrakech, with Moroccan Muslims and Moroccan Jews,

constituting together an ancient community. There were about 250,000 to

350,000 Jews in the country after World War II, which gave Morocco the largest

Jewish community in the Muslim world.  However, fewer than 2,500 remain.

 

Moroccan Muslims and Jews are communities existing side by side in harmony

and friendship. They lived in similar houses, led similar social lives, attended the

same schools, worked at the same jobs and spent great times together as friends.

 

On the 18th of June 2017, the Hight Atlas Foundation was invited by the

president of the Jewish community of the Marrakech-Safi region, Mr. Jacky

Kadoch, to a group Iftar at the Synagogue.

 

In addition to the Wali of Marrakech-Safi (the highest regional government

official), the Association Mimouna, Eckstein Family Foundation, International

Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and a delegation from the Ministry of Islamic

Affairs were also in attendance. There were many important guests, totaling

about 70 people.

 

At 19:30 it started - the smells of the beautiful foods and rituals in a wonderful

open area in the Synagogue, with a good band of traditional Moroccan musicians.

 

Six tables consisted of the Moroccan Muslims and Jews talking with each other,

with beautiful smiles stemming from their hearts.

 

After we broke our fasts with a tasty meal, we went to pray Elmaghreb.  It was

the first time I prayed in a Synagogue, and that was very emotional for me.

 

Mr. Jacky Kadoch welcomed all the attendees as he talked about the good

relations between Muslims and Jews and what our ancestors brought to us -

coexistence and unity.  He spoke of the efforts of the High Atlas Foundation and

what we have done in the historic Mellah neighborhood during this holy month,

facilitating participatory meetings with the local people as they identified their

most serious development needs.

 

Mr. Kadoch introduced Mr. Balon who also welcomed the guests and he spoke

about his story when he left Morocco at three years old, and he has come back

trying to preserve the Jewish-Moroccan heritage.

 

On behalf of Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, the president of the High Atlas Foundation,

Mr. Kadoch came to talk about him and what he has done since 1993 until now in Kingdom of Morocco.

 

The wali also expressed his pleasure to be in that group Iftar among the active

organizations, as he appreciated all their efforts for good relationships between

Muslims and Jews.  He congratulated HAF and Association Mimouna on the

wonderful work they have done with the Mellah residents, providing Iftar and

helping to find out their important project goals.

 

The event ended with perfect Moroccan traditional music in that lovely place with all the kind people.

 

Jews or Muslims, we are Moroccan and we are sharing our culture, living in peace with a clear unity.

 

 

 

 

The High Atlas Foundation and Partners Facilitate Renewal of the Historic Marrakech Mellah

By Max Bone

HAF Intern 

Marrakesh 

This past Thursday, the High Atlas Foundation, a Moroccan organization dedicated to sustainable development, and the Mimouna Association, a Moroccan organization aspiring to preserve the history of the Moroccan ancient Jewish community, joined together to find lasting project solutions for the Mellah community. Over a traditional Iftor meal, HAF and Mimouna brought together community members throughout the Mellah at the Salat Lazama Synagogue to collectively discuss the community’s needs and their hopes for the future.

 

 

“What we are talking about are not luxuries, they are simple human rights. We want to have access to water to drink, we want a school for our kids to attend, we want a hospital that we can go to when we are sick, and we want police in our neighborhood that ensure our security. I do not think that this is asking for too much, all other neighborhoods in Marrakesh have these things; why don’t we?” asked one community member.  Community members highlighted that while there was once “no difference between the Jews and the Muslims who lived here,” the community now struggles with a significant lack of resources. Fatiha, a local mother said: “The kids here don’t have many choices; the schools are nonexistent, and they do not trust the local authorities. There are no jobs and they are in the streets all day, they all are turning to drugs and alcohol to forget their struggles. I do not know what we can do.”

 

 

 

In order to attempt to mitigate some of these significant problems, Amina, a facilitator with the High Atlas Foundation, led a series of community activities aimed at mapping what the community looks like now, how it once was, and what it requires to improve for the future. Community members presented their plans to the rest of the group, focusing around the lack of renovation and the need for social services.

 

In particular, community members emphasized the need for infrastructure improvements: “We have a hospital, but there are no beds in it,” and further they emphasized, “our houses are full of mold and they are falling apart.” Without this infrastructural renovation, the Mellah is suffering. Moreover, community members also highlighted that, “every other neighborhood in Marrakesh has a police force, they stop drugs from being given out, and they also arrest thieves. Here both of those things run wild.” As the Mellah has become more marginalized in Moroccan society, it has lacked the most basic resources to provide for its citizens.

 

 Conclusively, these conversations continued to lead back to the need for the most basic infrastructure amelioration. With little access to running water, the discussions continued to return to the notion that they must first and foremost increase access to water and establish standards that ensure the hygiene of water. Yet, this prioritization just touches at the surface of the Mellah’s needs. While they hope to establish a system of clean water, they are also adamant that the community needs renovations that can bring it back to the center of vitality that it once was.

 

The High Atlas Foundation is moved and inspired by the conversations occurring at the Mellah and hopes to truly help increase the living standards with the people living in the Mellah. Moreover, HAF ensures that any help it offers to human development occurs through the participatory approach, empowering the community members of the Mellah to implement their solutions to their problems, rather than offering a top-down approach. In order to continue this participatory approach to mitigate the pressing problems facing the Mellah, HAF will carry out three more workshops in the Mellah this holy month of Ramadan.

 

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HAF tweets

HafFdtn Errachid, one of our project managers, wrote an interesting blog post about HAF's future project in Youssoufia! https://t.co/05ysd2Xzlv
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HafFdtn We are proud to announce that High Atlas Foundation has officially partnered with the Abdelazizz Ben Driss Child Protection Center in Fes
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HafFdtn In Chichaoua we met with students, teachers, and community members. We spoke about achieving community projects and goals.
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HafFdtn We enjoyed a productive visit to Chichaoua visiting schools where we planted with schoolchildren in cooperation with Sami's Project.
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HafFdtn New blog post up detailing Haf's future project in Youssoufia! Tell us what you think! https://t.co/05ysd2Xzlv
HafFdtn Us here at the Fes office can't wait to meet the folks at Ecosia! We hope they are enjoying their travels through the rest of Morocco.
HafFdtn Hot day in the field but that didn't keep us from finishing well construction at one of our newest nurseries!
HafFdtn With temperatures above 40C water conservation is no joke. With the right tech we can deliver enough water to the trees in our nurseries.

HAF in Morocco

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

Tel: +212 (0)5 24 42 08 21
Fax+212 (0)5 24 43 00 02 

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Directions to HAF Marrakech Office

HAF in US

High Atlas Foundation
High Atlas Foundation 332 Bleecker Street, #K110, NEW YORK, NY 10014
USA

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

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