On October 22, 2015 the United States Ambassador to the Kingom of Morocco, Mr. Dwight Bush, hosted in his Rabat home, Villa America, a reception to celebrate the human development work of the High Atlas Foundation in Morocco. The special gathering included 100 guests from different walks of life but who all share a dedication to Morocco’s future and empowering marginalized people.
HAF’s the House of Life project reached a new level as a result of the speeches delivered by Morocco’s Peace Corps Director, Ellen Paquette, HAF president Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, Ambassador Bush and H.E. André Azoulay, the adviser to His Majesty the King of Morocco.
The House of Life initiative sees the Moroccan Jewish community lending land to build organic fruit tree nurseries – employing water-efficient irrigation systems – for the benefit of local, Muslim farmers. Reaching further afield to global markets to sell Moroccan organic product is also a key component. House of Life embraces the entire value-chain and builds the capacities and capabilities of our people at every stage of the process.
This project is three things – a natural extension of the work of the High Atlas Foundation, framed within the context of Moroccan history and identity and in tune with the Kingdom’s human development strategy. House of Life is both cultural and sustainable development, founded on Moroccan Muslim and Jewish partnership – after all, national solidarity is second nature to us. It is no wonder that the Clinton Global Initiative saw the innovative nature of the scheme and established it as a Commitment to Action.
We hope that you join this interfaith initiative for rural Morocco human development and that you enjou the photo’s of this special event.
We are happy to include here Director Ellen Paquette’s introductory speech:
Ambassador Dwight Bush,
Thank you for hosting this reception at your home. Mr. Andre Azoulay, members of the Moroccan Jewish community, other distinguished guests, welcome to this reception hosted by Ambassador Bush. We are all grateful that it is not raining this evening and that we can enjoy the Ambassador’s lovely garden. It is an honor for me to introduce Yossef Ben-Meir who is the Founder and President of the High Atlas Foundation. I have known Yossef since 1993, when he first came to Morocco as a Peace Corps Volunteer and at the time I was the Peace Corps Country Director.
As a volunteer Yossef was genuinely engaged with the community where he served in the High Atlas Mountains. When he would occasionally come into Rabat, he would always stop to see me in my office and I remember our long conversations that usually started with Yossef asking me “What do THINK about this…?” We grappled with the questions of “Why we were here as Peace Corps”, What is development, How could a volunteer’s work be sustainable if each person is here for only two years, and How could we really make a difference for Moroccans in mostly rural areas who at that time had little access to many services such as a health clinic, potable water or an education beyond a basic level.
He approached his Peace Corps service with passion, a keen curiosity and a dedication to helping others improve the quality of their lives. He developed a deep love for Morocco and the people in his community. Moroccans described him as a thinker and a dreamer, and these qualities have remained consistent for him long past his two years as a volunteer and later another two years as a Peace Corps Morocco staff member.
And for all of his and the High Atlas Foundations’ accomplishments, he remains one of the most humble people I have ever known. His lifelong commitment to sustainable community development and human capacity building and building bridges of cultural understanding, are laudable and his dreams to improve people’s lives continue to inspire and motivate all of us who know him well. It is my pleasure to introduce my long-time friend, Yossef Ben-Meir.
Learn more at www.highatlasfoundation.org
For more information please contact: HAF@highatlasfoundation.org ; +212 (0) 5 24 42 08 21