by Nisreen Abo-Sido, HAF Volunteer, Thomas J. Watson Fellow
On my first site visit as the newest member of the HAF team, I joined Errachid—our project manager and volunteer coordinator—on a visit to El Youssoufia to attend a regional OCP Company meeting. Formerly known as Office chérifien des phosphates, OCP holds economic importance in Morocco as a globally leading phosphate exporter. In the 2013 growing season, OCP supported HAF’s human development projects in the Rhamna province. In 2017, OCP launched act4Community, an initiative requiring OCP employees to volunteer on community projects for 1-4 weeks. At the meeting we attended, employees that completed their community service reported on their experiences, attendees contributed to discussions about improving and expanding partnerships, and we invited the new OCP director to engage with our development efforts.
act4Community representatives spoke of the group’s priorities in the areas of agriculture, enterprise, social work, and environmental protection. Moreover, under each focus area, they outlined their approach, which included activities like training agricultural cooperatives on poultry farming, supporting women’s cooperatives, sending doctors to treat children in schools, and distributing winter clothing to children. Participating employees then reported on their experiences. One volunteer highlighted how the doctors visiting the school challenged the inaccessibility of doctors as figures solely functioning in hospitals. Another discussed the development of a province-wide quinoa-growing project and the benefits of growing the plant in a province with water problems. A few conference attendees then offered their comments, including a call for more communication between volunteers as well as cross-collaboration with existing civil society work groups.
During the tea break, we met OCP’s director, Ramzi Abdel Kareem, and Errachid familiarized the new director with HAF’s participatory approach and projects. After Errachid described HAF’s proposals for projects in El Youssoufia, including a clean drinking water initiative in Gantour rural community and fruit tree nursery in Allal Lfassi High School; Abdel Kareem expressed interest in visiting HAF’s tree nurseries in Assalam school in Ifrane and Lhossin Ibno Ali. They then discussed more of HAF’s programs, including those focused on women’s empowerment.
We carpooled back to the taxi station, and left satisfied that OCP’s act4Community efforts aligned with HAF’s approach.
Errachid (right) discusses HAF’s approach and projects with OCP Director Ramzi Abdel Kareem (left).