The High Atlas Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) together launched the two-year project “Promoting Civil Society-University Engagement” in October 2021 with Cadi Ayyad University (UCA) in Marrakech. A specific partnership agreement was signed in January 2021 with the Faculty of Legal, Economic, and Social Sciences at UCA, Legal Clinic for Studies and Research Association. The target beneficiaries of this project are students at Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakech, Asfi, and Kelaat Sraghna campuses), local community leaders, and civil associations, cooperatives, and centers in the Marrakech Safi Region.
On the occasion of HAF planting trees every year during the third week of January, and in accordance with the university’s openness to civil society initiatives, I went with Mr. Abderrahim Beddah, the caretaker of the Akrich nursery in Tameslouht Commune (Al Haouz Province), and Safae Aguerjout, the representative of the Legal Clinic at UCA together dug holes and planted almond, walnut, olive, carob trees and medicinal plants with a number of students who are members of the environment club, their teachers, and the Director of Laghnanma Primary School, Mr. Abdelmoula of the Laataouna village in Tameslouht. Safae and I presented the Legal Clinic’s objectives and roles for supporting the local communities.
I would like to thank Mr. Abdelmoula and the team of Laghnanma School so much for the great moment that we spent with them. I cannot forget how the director of the school talked about his first initiative when he was a teacher in primary school in Azilal Province in 1992, and in a school in Ourika, Talat N’Yakoub, and now in Tameslouht Commune in Al Haouz Province. From his discussion, I found that he is not just doing his job as a teacher or Director, but he always leaves his positive mark in schools and with children. He is a model for teachers and directors that work hard for sustainable development.
After planting trees in the school, the HAF team went and met the women of Achbarou Cooperative, which focuses its activities in artisanry including crochet-work, carpet-making, and natural dye work, and planted trees with them near the facility for the cooperative and local association. Additionally, Safae and I presented the legal aid program and informed the women about future activities. We discussed with them the negative impacts of early marriage for girls and dropping out of school early, which is prevalent for girls in the village. We encouraged the women to support their daughters to attend school and finish their studies, returning if they’ve already stopped out.
We also presented the objectives and planned activities under the framework of another new program funded by the European Union that will focus on family literacy classes, women’s empowerment, the participatory approach, and professional training for 20 cooperatives in the Marrakech-Safi region. The women are very motivated and interested to participate in both of these programs.
HAF and the students from the UCA legal clinic look forward to continued and regular collaboration with both the school and the women of Achbarou Cooperative.