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Planting Hope: A Journey of Growth and Transformation in Ouarzazate

byAloys Trinker
onFebruary 22, 2024

Day One: Planting the Seeds of Change

The sun had just begun its ascent over the rugged landscape of Marrakech as Mohammed and Errachid picked me up at my apartment at 10am. Excitement and anticipation filled the air as we headed toward Ouarzazate to join a Tree Planting Project initiated by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and Intelcia. Arriving at the field, our first task was distributing some of the 5,000 trees that awaited planting—almond, olive, fig, pomegranate, and clementine trees that promised a green, sustainable future.

After a day of shared effort, we went to our hotel in Ouarzazate, where we spent a cozy night. The significance of the 5,000 trees being planted highlighted the dramatic impact this initiative aimed to achieve.

Meeting with four local farmers—Mohamed Akdim, Ahmed Chamrou, Hassan Chamrou, and Mohamed Chamrou—we learned about a nearby dam constructed by the government to enhance groundwater availability. This project not only provided the farmers with the means to build their wells but also instilled a newfound hope within the community.

Day Two: Awakening the Landscape

The second day commenced with a 6:50am wake-up call, followed by a hearty breakfast. We gathered at the designated field meeting point, joined by Intelcia as our collaborative partner. Intelcia, with its ongoing project, ensured that each collaborator received a tree, contributing to 10,000 trees to be planted within two years. With a team of 19 eager volunteers, we looked forward to transforming the landscape with new fruit-bearing trees.

In a briefing led by Mohammed, the volunteers were enlightened about HAF's mission and the intricacies of the Tree Planting Program. Understanding the planting process and water supply mechanisms was crucial to the survival and prosperity of the newly planted trees. Introducing solar-powered water pumps opened avenues for the farmers to increase their yield and improve their livelihoods.

At 10am, the labor of love commenced, as shovels and pickaxes broke the stony ground to prepare for planting. Seedlings were carefully transported to their designated spots, where 40cm-deep holes offered protection. The meticulous process of freeing the seedlings from their plastic shields, placing them in the hole, and gently covering them with soil ensued. Compacting the soil ensured the plants' stability, with every stone meticulously removed, leaving only fertile ground for the trees.

In just a matter of minutes, three trees were planted, showcasing the efficiency and dedication of the volunteers. An interview with Intelcia shed light on the collaboration, followed by a tea break. Intelcia is planting one tree for each supporter this year and the following—10,000 trees.

At noon, the tea break concluded, and we moved on to a new tree-planting site. Watering each hole until a small mound of earth was visible was the final step, ensuring the seedlings were well-nurtured.

Afternoon Reflections: Planting Hope for the Future

Later, we gathered for a well-deserved lunch of Tagine and fries. Seated in a circle, we savored the flavors of success and camaraderie that had blossomed over the past few hours.

Our journey back home marked the end of two incredibly successful and transformative days. Witnessing people’s resilience in a seemingly inhospitable zone planting trees with the support of organizations like HAF and Intelcia left an indelible mark on my heart. The promise of a better life, the growth of sustainable practices, and the collective hope we planted in those arid grounds made this experience more than just a tree-planting endeavor—it became a journey of growth, transformation, and a future filled with hope.