By Errachid Montassir
HAF Project Manager
At the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in the city of Ben Guerir, the OCP Group organized a two day workshop about a new program they are launching, called Community Service.
The OCP Group has a Board that was created to carry out the social and societal commitment of the organization. Its main goal is to develop and implement community programs, focusing mainly on the human development. By adopting and seeking to effectively apply the participatory approach, the new program intends to establish the basis for integrated citizen action for an economic and social development in Morocco and other African countries that are part of a South-South cooperative context.
The idea behind these workshop is to develop sustainable community initiatives, as described by the General Director of the OCP Group, Dr. Mostafa Terrab: “This company will provide short term expert volunteers to the to assist our projects in many dimensions, including entrepreneurship, social economic solidarity, youth training and employability, agriculture, education, art and culture, health, humanitarian support and the environnement.”
The volunteering duration for OCP employees will be four weeks. During this period, the volunteers will not be controlled, they will continue to receive their salary, on condition they will achieve something helpful for our communities through actions, creating projects with cooperatives and civil associations, assist new workshops, and also provide final reports. The program can also build capacities, means, methods, resources and financial support in some cases.”
More than 200 people attended this important workshop, including OCP partners, members Foundation OCP, and all the participants from different civil groups, cooperatives, and organizations.
The High Atlas Foundation was invited by the OCP Group to attend the workshop as an example of a group working closely already with one of the most recognizable volunteer programs in the United States called Farmer-to-Farmer. This program is managed by Land O Lakes, who works exclusively with HAF in Morocco to field 30 volunteer-experts to support all aspects of agricultural development. The technical assistance of these volunteers assist HAF’s community partners in business plan development for the organic product; technical assessments for new nurseries, orchards, seed banks, and product processing; in monitoring carbon sequestration and commercialization of carbon credits; and building local capacities to combat climate change and sustainable management of natural resources.
These volunteer-experts from the United States have done a priceless job with Moroccan cooperatives through the High Atlas Foundation. HAF shares the experience, technical information, and feasibility documents development with all local and national, public and private partners.
The first day of the OCP workshop started by welcoming the attendees to the conference. The session facilitator, Mamoun, came with a great ecological project; special plastic bottles made to use for a long time, and they gave the bottles to all the attendees.
Mohamed Soual, the chief economist of OCP group, spoke on behalf Chair Mostafa Terrab, and he discussed the importance of organizations and associations in Morocco to play a serious role to move communities forward. He mentioned how OCP employees are excited about this big upcoming volunteer program. At the end of his talk, he spoke to all attendees to take this opportunity to make every effort to improve our Kingdom and Africa as well.
The HAF team addressed the participants, about our experiences with the expert-volunteers, its partnerships to support volunteers, and about outstanding volunteer achievements in HAF-community projects, in the environment, education, organic agriculture, and culture.
In the environment workshop, there were three ecological projects selected, including from HAF: Sami’s Project, which is working with youth through planting trees with students and their communities to create green spaces in schools and communities and expand the culture of planting between the students. The project endeavors to make better education available to the rural population through establish clean water systems at schools, build bathrooms and housing (which directly increase girls participation), and facilitate interactive environmental and hygienic activities.
The second day of the workshop was dedicated to creating the operating modes of the community service program. Some of the basic components include:
– The volunteer assignment should be identified by the collaborators.
– OCP manages the community service program, identifies and manages a list of projects and partners, and allows collaborators to contribute by proposing new projects, which are validated.
– There will be a charter of commitment to be signed by the collaborator before the voluntary action.
The High Atlas Foundation and the OCP Group share the goal to work hard on sustainable development and move forward communities of our Kingdom and of African nations.