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More than 15 years ago, around the spirit of Peace Corps, the High Atlas Foundation was founded to help rural Moroccan communities in need. A dedicated group of Americans and Moroccans alike saw that there was a great space to be filled, and they worked together to create an organisation that continues to grow and change in order to help individuals and communities in reaching their full potential towards a participatory, environmentally friendly, inclusive and pluralistic approach to development.
Today, as a proud member of the High Atlas Foundation team, we all are dedicated, including other Board members, advisors, staff and volunteers, to bringing game-changing growth to Moroccan communities, one tree at a time. I have seen first-hand progress that has been made through key programs in: organic value chains, women’s and youth empowerment, environmental awareness and sound practices, participatory democratic planning, and bridging intercultural differences.
After reaching the one million tree-planting mark, HAF has engaged on a One Billion Tree campaign, contributing to a multitude of initiatives throughout the Kingdom to lift its inhabitants out of the cycle of poverty. In the 2016 planting season alone, HAF is aiming to plant more seeds than any other year (current record is at 320,000 seeds, planted in 2015). Furthermore, the seeds, fruit tree saplings, and medicinal and aromatic plants offset CO2 emissions and regenerate green space on this earth. HAF, and its partners, are known as the pioneers of organic walnut processing. We are expanding to almonds, pomegranate, fig and many other varieties to diversify families’ revenue sources.
Through unique partnerships, HAF is fostering agency in women and youth, catalyzing personal self-worth, motivation and legitimacy. With YSL Beauté, HAF is building economic, social and political empowerment for women of the Ourika Valley of the Atlas Mountains, through the production of raw products in beauty products. These 60 women officially created the Aboghlo Cooperative and in addition to YSL raw materials, have launch the production of their own locally-grown products, such as couscous, herbs and jams.
The participatory approach, the heart of the High Atlas Foundation, promotes a space where communities actively strategize solutions to community development. This community-led approach, encourages an environment where all citizens have equal standing and are key actors in their own development. It is therefore, a precursor to all High Atlas Foundation programs. This self-sustainment, participatory progress builds a stronger and more prosperous economy, thereby increasing the impact of all of our other programs.
These monumental efforts lead towards powerful development solutions so Moroccans throughout the Kingdom can take charge of their growth. These efforts are not without cost, but through your contribution to the High Atlas Foundation, you can join in the sustainable development movement. Together, we can bring a long-term impact where rural communities of men, women and youth alike, achieve diversified organic agriculture value-chain revenue, stimulating a plethora of human development projects.
I would be very grateful if you would consider supporting the work of the High Atlas Foundation. Together, I truly feel we can bring grass-roots momentum, progress and development to lives of many Moroccan families, where for decades to come, communities take charge of their future.
I look forward to our collaboration and it would be a pleasure to speak with you further.
Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir