January 15th marked the start of another annual official tree planting day, a day where HAF employees, interns, friends, and supporters join local communities across Morocco to plant trees for a more sustainable future. As interns from the University of Toronto in Canada, we were given the opportunity to visit Marrakech’s Cadi Ayyad University to plant trees and meet with fellow university students.
Arriving at the campus in the morning, we met with HAF staff members Houria Chouhab and Safaa Aguerjout, both esteemed alumni of the university. Houria and Safaa reminisced about their days as students as they gave us a tour of the beautiful ochre-hued campus buildings surrounded by plant gardens. The air buzzed with urgency as we strolled through the walkways, with many students engrossed in final semester exams.
After the insightful tour, we met with the Vice Dean and Assistant Vice Dean of the Faculty of Law and Social & Economic Sciences to commence the day's activities. As the pair planted the first sapling into the earth, a wave of emotion overcame us all as we realized this little sapling would one day grow to be a permanent fixture adorning the Cadi Ayyad campus for years to come. We then each took turns shovelling soil into the home for the new sapling and watering it, cementing this tree as the product of our collective effort.
In the background, HAF President Yossef Ben-Meir was conducting an official Tree Planting Day livestream to document the efforts made by participants all over the country. The Vice Dean, Assistant Vice Dean, and university students, some of whom had previously volunteered with HAF or participated in events like the legal aid clinic, shared their experiences on the livestream. Before moving on to showcase a different planting team in another region, Yossef greeted the Deans and wished the students good luck on their exams.
The day unfolded with the planting of 20 trees, a blend of olive and carob varieties, interwoven with medicinal and aromatic herbs. As we placed the roots into the earth, we envisioned a future where these small beginnings burgeon into great trees, offering sustenance, shade, and a place for relaxation to future university students, a living testament to the vitality of the environment we co-create.
Smita Mahmud, Sneha Khan, and Zoya Rehman are HAF Interns from the University of Toronto currently in the co-op year of International Development Studies.