by Zineb Laadam/ Jo anne Cohn
HAF Farmer to Farmer program
A HAF Farmer to Farmer team member and a volunteer share their culture. Photo: HAF
When most people think about the Farmer-to-Farmer program they think about increasing productivity or selling more products or planting more trees. But when I think about the Farmer-to-Farmer program, I think about women and friendship and smiles.
Last month, the Farmer-to-Farmer program hosted a marketing and business volunteer from Northern California. Our assignment was to visit two cooperatives and train them in writing a Scope of Work Statement. And yes, we accomplished that. But something as important or maybe even more important is the friendships we made and the smiles that we shared.
I had the opportunity to work with Jo Anne, a volunteer from Northern California. She’s a business specialist and was here in Morocco to work with the cooperatives. Just as is spelled out in her Scope of Work, she did, in fact, impart her knowledge with members of the cooperatives.
But she left so much more than that. During her time here, we became friends. We laughed together and discovered that we have so much in common. Even though there is an age gap of more than fifty years between us, and we come from different cultures, we shared a journey and now are friends.
I invited Jo Anne to stay at my house and see how a real Moroccan family lives. We dressed up in my mother’s wedding dress, ate homemade donuts, played a game with my brother and sisters, and walked to my family’s farm.
While I realize that she is here for work and needs to write a trip report, her time with me, my family, and the women of the cooperative was equally important. Sharing her family stories with us and us sharing our family stories with her will be with me forever. When I think of her and our time together, I will smile. And just as importantly, when Jo Anne thinks of her trip to Morocco, she will remember our time together and smile, too.