Before I begin, I have a simple request to ask of you: take a moment to step outside into the natural environment and look around. What is one issue that you notice and how would you go about fixing said issue? Keep that in mind as I continue forward.
On February 23, 2021, remarkable individuals based in Morocco were called upon to share their inspirational stories of positivity and social empowerment via an online event hosted by the Generation Share Changemakers World Digital Tour. Benita Matofska and Sophie Sheinwald, co-authors of the incredible book Generation Share, have spear-headed the digital tour series to introduce the world to these inspiring tales. In these stories, viewers were able to not only visualize a Morocco that is teeming with power and immense potential, but we were also provided insight into what shaped the paths of each Changemaker, and how we, too, can facilitate positive change in our respective communities. Change in Morocco has focused primarily on building sustainable infrastructure and improving agroforestry, as well as improving education and literacy rates to the degree in which Morocco can be a self-reliant nation one day. Self-reliance from an economic standpoint is the goal, but these Changemakers have proven that this idea extends to social interaction and community empowerment.
Meet the Changemakers
Larbi Arbaoui is high school English teacher and a longstanding member of the Morocco Library Project, an organization founded by Barb Mackraz that constructs English libraries in under-privileged Moroccan communities to facilitate social equity and educational development. Arbaoui is credited with developing the Short Story Writing Competition. This competition allows high school students to produce original stories that are rich in culture and meaning. The 2021 competition is currently underway with a theme titled “Life in Morocco” and can capture any aspects of Moroccan life.
Mouhcine Camel is a teacher of languages and the founder of English Street Class, a project that provides free teachings of many different languages, such as English, French, and Spanish. His initiative is unique in the fact that it actually takes place on the streets of Essaouira in an effort to change the narrative about “street life” to be one that focuses on growth, knowledge, and community.
Amina El Hajjami is the Director of Projects at the High Atlas Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating sustainable development in Morocco. She oversees projects in the following areas of HAF’s mission: sustainable agriculture, education, health, women’s and youth empowerment, and capacity-building. Hajjami has been a key figure in the immense progress in women’s empowerment projects for Moroccan communities.
Leila Lebbar is a musician and the founder of Crescendo, a musical workshop that allows children of young ages to discover the world of music. Children are accompanied by family and learn the basics of music and instruments. By using the art of music, Lebbar hopes to solidify the Moroccan identity and love for the nation of Morocco.
Lucas Peters is a travel writer, photographer, and the Managing Director of Journey Beyond Travel, a tour operator that provides private tours of destinations all across the incredible Moroccan landscape. In this role, he seeks to provide a cultural immersion that changes how people imagine Morocco.
Yossef Ben-Meir is the President and co-founder of the High Atlas Foundation. He developed HAF in an attempt to facilitate sustainable development in Moroccan communities. Ben-Meir oversees a dedicated team as well as volunteers and interns who use participatory methods to understand how to best serve Morocco. His organization hopes to inspire positive change in the African continent, the Middle Eastern region, and the greater global society.
Global Change Starts in Morocco
As Dr. Ben-Meir mentioned during the event, Morocco is positioned at the forefront of sustainable development. At the moment, many organizations, community groups, and individuals nationwide are dynamically changing the scope of Moroccan society. Though significant progress has been made, Morocco has a lot more room for improvement. Education has been prioritized as the starting point from which the economy and other facets of life will follow. The process of implementing participatory methods in development has major implications to how other countries view their development. Also, with the steady emergence of Changemakers, Morocco stands to see dramatic changes in the coming years. The vision is to become a nation that is self-sufficient, but also able to influence the global market. Morocco already exists as an immense cultural hub teeming with potential. If everything continues trending upward, the sky’s the limit in terms of Morocco’s future.
Am I a Changemaker?
Now, please recall the answer you determined from my question. I dare you to act upon it, there is nothing to lose…only something to gain. This is part of being a Changemaker. Changemaking is simple in theory but may be challenging in practice. Simply put, being a changemaker means envisioning change and then acting on that vision. You can make a difference no matter where you are or what you do. Changemakers have a capacity for love and positivity. They are brave enough to follow a road less traveled. They are willing to share knowledge and resources. They can adapt to ever-changing situations. They are always thinking of what the future holds. This is the message each of the panelists made clear during the digital tour. This is what Benita Matofska imagined when she began her journey and created Generation Share. Be the change you want to see. Morocco depends on it. Africa depends on it. The whole world depends on it.
Caption: Image of Generation Share, the book that has inspired people worldwide to create change.
Photo by: The People Who Share
Please visit Generation Share to learn more about the book and more events that are hosted. You can also make donations and purchasing the book will plant one tree and educate one young girl in the slums of India.
This article is dedicated to supporting the development of community fruit trees and medicinal herb nurseries.