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On June 17th, I had the great pleasure of meeting the 5th grade class of George Washington Academy in Casablanca. The amazing students held a bake sale for the High Atlas Foundation and raised 3,500 Moroccan dirhams for fruit tree planting in rural disadvantaged communities, as part of HAF’s 1 Million Tree Campaign. I enjoyed very much speaking with the students about the very positive impact of their efforts, and the challenges rural families face. And then, we planted a tree!

I was moved by the level of curiosity and understanding of the students, and the dedication of GWA’s teachers. Another highlight was my visit to the art classroom of Thomas Relth and he described some of their activities. His lessons actually build community in the classroom and school by having students in small groups construct a model of their campus, including their visions for change. HAF’s project field team applies similar participatory planning activities with local communities, so I was not surprised–though totally thrilled to hear about the level of vested feelings the students feel toward their project.

David Bult of Green Sahara Furniture, a long-time HAF friend and partner, is also a Board Member of GWA, and he gave me tour of the campus. A memorable part of that day was after my visit to GWA, when I had the chance to see David’s furniture-making shop and to learn more about his vision of making stunning pieces from trees that died naturally, rather than cut down. We only hope that the demand for these items will sky-rocket, which will preserve Morocco’s forests. David is a genuine example of an entrepreneur that creates well-paying jobs while preserving our environment. HAF’s community projects achieve the same win-win scenarios.

Thank you, GWA, especially you wonderful fifth graders (now sixth graders and congratulations on that), for the inspiration and real difference that you made for Moroccan rural families!

Yossef Ben-Meir
HAF’s President