The 16th of January was an unforgettable day for me. In the early morning, Aicha Galef, a Program Manager of the High Atlas Foundation, and I left together from Marrakech to Rhamna to visit five schools: Oulad Ba, Ouladlhaj, the Educational Complex of Bouchane, DarTaliba and DarTalib. We celebrated this memorable event – HAF and communities planting their 1 millionth tree – with the students of these schools, who were in very high spirits.
Mr. Abderrahim Gahouane, the president of the teachers’ association in the Ait Taleb commune, and local primary teacher Reddouane Ouslama, greeted us upon our arrival.
We traveled to the schools throughout the day with Adberrahim and Reddouane, along with the truck that carried the 2,708 trees to be distributed (including olive, almond, pomegranate, orange and lemon). Mr Abderrahim and two teachers led us to the first school visit of the day, Oulad Ba. The students were eager and energetic as the truck pulled up to deliver the trees. Students were so happy to be a part of the 16 January events, and they participated actively in tree planting.
Watching the students plant, I also wanted to participate, so I took the initiative and I planted an olive tree in the school yard. I can’t describe how much I enjoyed planting with the students, which reminded me of a planting I had participated in last year with HAF. During the 2013 planting season, after just joining the HAF team, I had the pleasure of participating in Sami’s Project, where I had the opportunity to plant an olive tree with students.
Next, we went with the teachers to school Ouladlhaj, where students and head masters showed the same appreciation and joyful happiness as the previous school. Here, Aicha asked the students and teachers their point of view about the 16 January event and what they enjoyed about planting activities. The students were so excited, and assured their teachers and head masters that they will water and care for these trees.
The third school we visited was the Educational Complex of Bouchane, where something very special happened. As we were distributing trees to students, it began to rain, a good omen for the future and sustainability of these trees.
It continued to rain as we distributed trees to Dar Taliba and Dar Talib. The day ended with hope for the future, as students and teachers expressed their gratitude and their desire to expand Sami’s Project to include other priorities for rural schools. A main priority for students and teachers is building gender-segregated toilets, which increases girls’ attendance and provides a healthy school environment conducive to learning.
Since HAF began working in Rhamna Province, the changes have been enormous, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with these schools to make a difference in the lives of rural Moroccan communities. I look forward returning to Rhamna to see the implementation of other projects that students and teachers prioritized. We hope to expand these projects not only in Rhamna but in all the provinces in the Kingdom of Morocco.
Fatima Zahra Laaribi, HAF Office Manager