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Candles of Imagination Shine in Bir Gandouz Commune

byCheikh Akmach
onMarch 7, 2023

On the 5th of January, the High Atlas Foundation´s (HAF) women’s empowerment trainers Hajiba Boumasmar and Hana Ezaoui embarked on a journey to the distant Bir Gandouz Commune to conduct a women’s empowerment workshop for the local community as part of a MEPI (Middle East Partnership Initiative) program for participatory planning and the implementation of community initiatives in the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab Region.

This Imagine workshop is one of the hallmarks of HAF’s work. HAF is dedicated to training its personnel to conduct this special workshop. Imagine workshops enable and encourage the creation of an environment that helps women grow, learn and feel inspired and empowered.

Our team members were surprised by the high attendance rates of the participants. Although the commune is very small, more than forty women attended the workshop: mothers, government officials, craftswomen and many more.

Our first meeting in Bir Gandouz was very pleasant. We were welcomed warmly and the women were very dedicated to the project.

Our professional trainers explained the seven core areas of the workshop: emotions, relationships, body, sexuality, work, money and spirituality. As the training went on, we were pleasantly surprised to hear some moving testimonials from the participants. They expressed their happiness and gratitude for attending the event. One participant said, “This is the first time I have attended a training like this and it is also the first time in my life that I felt like an association actually cared about my personal development. This training made me feel heard. It empowered me and showed me my true potential. It made me realize that only the sky’s the limit for my dreams.”

Another participant spoke to us about how her perspective on workshops changed thanks to her experience at the Imagine workshop. She said with a lamenting sigh, “I had never attended a workshop before because I thought they were useless and nothing but talk.” But then her eyes lit up with excitement, ”But after going through this experience, I will participate in any training that can help me change and become a better person.”

Hajiba and Hana were very excited about the positive energy from the participants. They felt the impact their words had on their listeners. They felt their engagement and their willingness to change and grow. This vibe infested our trainers who continued the workshop into the evening even after it was supposed to end.

Participants working in groups trying to brainstorm solutions for the problems of the region.
Credits: Hajiba Boumasmar/HAF

For the women of Bir Gandouz this was a life changing experience. For our trainers this was an incredible moment, a moment where they deeply connected with the participants. Hajiba and Hana were happy to be the torches that lit the way for the women to find their true selves.

Next, Hajiba and Hana focused on the fifth part of the workshop, work. It was mainly a brainstorming session to find ideas for projects that could be realized in the Bir Gandouz commune.

The trainers divided the women into six groups. Each group was given a single topic to focus on. These topics were the main problems the community is facing. We had decided these topics in advance based on our earlier visit where we discussed these issues with the women.

The women discussed these challenges and also found solutions themselves. Among these issues were the education in the commune, the situation of farming women,the food industry and in particular livestock breeding, traditional craftsmanship, the brick manufacturing initiative led by local women, and the production of medicinal plants and natural perfumes.

Bir Gandouz´s Women lighting up candles of hope at the end of the training.
Credits: Hajiba Boumasmar/HAF

The HAF team and its partners in the MEPI are committed to supporting the communities of the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab Region in creating participatory initiatives that promote sustainable development and community empowerment. The partnership between HAF and MEPI aims to work together closely with community members to identify their needs and create programs that address these needs. This includes empowering women, developing local crafts, and creating economic opportunities in the region.

The success of the workshop in Bir Gandouz is just one example of how HAF is making a positive impact on communities in the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab Region. By providing women with the tools and resources they need to succeed, HAF is helping to build stronger, more resilient communities. With the continued support of partners like MEPI, HAF is working towards a brighter future for the people of this region, one that is characterized by economic growth, social development, and environmental sustainability.