On September 25, the president of the High Atlas Foundation Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, the vice president Mr. Larbi Didouqen, and myself (Ms. Ouafa Elbargui, HAF’s center coordinator) left Marrakech to Rabat, then travelled together with representatives of Kosmos Energy Morocco, Amideast, and the National Office of Hydrocarbon and Mines to Ifrane for the purpose of attending a presentation about Sahrawi culture organized by Kosmos Energy and led by Professor John Shoup of Al Akhawayn University.
At 6:30pm, we arrived in Ifrane, a very calm, quiet, and clean city with only a few people and vehicles circling around in the streets. After checking into a hotel for that night, at 7:15pm the whole group went for a drive to a restaurant to have dinner. When we got out of the minibus, some of us – visiting Ifrane for the first time – were surprised of the dim lights everywhere – in the street and at the restaurant. The tranquility of the city, its trees, houses, and blurry lights looked as if we were in a deserted place. However, this offered a very good ambiance for our interesting discussions while having fresh food and drinks.
On September 26 at 8:00am, Professor Shoup led a very important presentation about Sahrawi culture. For me, I can say that I was very lucky to attend that day for there was a very rich, interactive, and inspiring discussion which gave me some hints about how to start community development, especially since I will be in the area of Cap Boujdour for the first time as a field facilitator of the project, and this initiated me into managing techniques and approaches; simply, it showed me the way how to begin working successfully. This was because the whole presentation had dealt with social, cultural, and environmental aspects and these three big issues are necessary to be taken into consideration when dealing with a new community.
On behalf of High Atlas Foundation, I take this opportunity to thank very much Mr. Hugh McDowell, the vice president and regional director of Kosmos Energy, for his warm and generous hosting, also his smart way to keep the communication continued during the whole time; Mr. Abdelilah Chami, Kosmos Energy’s dedicated Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility; Professor John Shoup for his wonderful presentation and his patience in answering all the raised questions; and a special thank to all the attendees for the beautiful rich time we shared together.
— Ouafa Elbargui, HAF’s Center Coordinator