As so many of us ask when we commemorate an anniversary of decades: where have all the years gone? Have we done all we can? Have we been of true service? Did we do right?
We also may wonder on these occasions what might the future hold. Will our dreams — our Moroccan dreams — come true? Will every village and neighborhood come together, with every young person, every elder, every woman and man from all circumstances, and be part of designing and deciding the future course of their community? And will the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) be of the best service it could as the Moroccan people create the change they seek?
It is the 20th year anniversary of the High Atlas Foundation — an organization born from the service of Peace Corps Volunteers and dedicated Moroccan friends.
With every entity that endures across time, there seems to be a miraculous component — that through unpredictable events there remains continuity. The mission of HAF is as fixed as the universal principle upon which it is based: the people who are impacted by development decisions and actions are the drivers of lasting change. We are dedicated to the premise that sustainability is manifested by and for local communities. This means that HAF commits to inclusivity and empowerment so that people are confident as they make decisions that reflect what they need; to projects that are the priorities of the people and that cut across the different sectors of life; and to partnerships — because the wider and deeper the commitment, the greater the likelihood of implementation and endurance.
Some millions of growing trees later, thousands of families drinking clean water, thousands of people experiencing capacity-building so that they manifest change around them, and we have also learned abiding lessons. Ripples of good intentions and of people’s projects over time create outcomes that, when observed, help us to realize there is an incalculable amount of impact out there experienced by children and grandchildren that will be experienced by generations to come. Development, like planting a tree, is an endeavor that naturally seems to cross into faith.
Sustainability is an operational concept involving the consideration of multiple factors in development planning: economic, cultural, technological, financial, environmental, geographic, historical, and gender-based factors. Beyond that, sustainability may very well be the ongoing generator of good effects so widespread, so deep in the heart, and so felt across time that they belong to no one but the people who experience bounty, power, and ability in moments of their lives.
As President of the Board of Directors for the Foundation’s first 10 years and President of its operations throughout its second decade, and as the one who carried the idea of what became HAF for some years prior to when it was founded in 2000, I am more grateful than I can say for the marvel of people to whom we owe everlasting gratitude. Since there are too many to mention here, and I cannot do justice by mentioning just a few, I will express my gratitude to one person who has made Morocco a potential sustainable development bastion on earth, making the participatory work of HAF and others potentially fully scalable throughout the nation. That person is His Majesty King Mohammed VI.
The Moroccan Frameworks that guide the people’s development are replete with the highest principles of people-driven change and empowerment. Together they form a powerfully synergistic pathway forward for lasting development and, yes, prosperity. They are thoughtful, creative, and so strategic in their formulation that one finds it seriously challenging to improve upon their design. The existential challenge before the Moroccan people is the fulfillment of the integrated Frameworks that promote sustainable local development.
The opportunity to create bottom-up community development movements that federate and transform public-civil-private sector relationships with sustainable prosperity in their wake, is real and Moroccan. And it is up to its people and agencies to fulfill. I, for one, appreciate the grand, continental, and totally meaningful opportunity — and commit HAF to its life of service to this Moroccan cause, and as a precedent for the world.
To 20 years, to 100 more, and to all we are able to do throughout,
Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir
High Atlas Foundation, Marrakech
20th Anniversary Event: Virtual Nursery Opening in Ouarzazate
Coinciding with the celebration of our 20th anniversary, HAF will be opening its twelfth and newest community fruit tree nursery in the province of Ouarzazate on land lent in-kind by the Moroccan Jewish community. The opening is tentatively planned for October 16.
Stay tuned for more information and an invitation to attend a virtual commemorative ceremony to celebrate these two incredible milestones with us.
Visual storytelling: HAF 2000-2020
After two decades, we’ve collected more than forty thousand pictures, documenting millions of trees that have been planted, the range of projects we’ve undertaken, the communities we’ve had the honor to work with, the people that give of themselves for the betterment of others, and countless priceless memories.
Join us on Instagram (and our other social media platforms) in the upcoming weeks as we retell the story of HAF through photos, celebrating everyone who’s been part of HAF’s journey.
Be a part of the story.
Have you volunteered with HAF? Do you have a funny story about your time in the field? Were you moved by your experience working with the people of Morocco? Has HAF impacted your life in some way?
We welcome anyone who’s been a part of this journey to share their story.
Share a photo. Write a poem. Send your submissions for our blog or social media to email@example.com.
Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #HAF20years.
Contribute to our Next 20 Years
Commemorate our first 20 years by giving to ensure the next.
❖ Visit our Nursery eStore and plant 20+ trees in Moroccan communities.
❖ Visit our donate page to give a one-time or monthly gift of $20.
❖ Browse our social impact projects on GlobalGiving and help to improve rural schools, empower women, provide clean drinking water, and more.
To make a gift or plant trees in honor or in memory of a loved one, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.