By Lisa Wiese
April 6, 2016
As you head east from Marrakech you will pass through many little villages that showcase the bright colors, vibrant culture, and wide smiles of the Moroccan people. Make sure to open your window so you can smell the fresh, cold air of the wind which comes from the mountains, mixed with the daily activities of the villages and the tantalizing smell of tagine.
This ride will lead you close to the High Atlas, whose white capped mountains grow as you approach them. The river Qued Zat brings fruitfulness to the Area of Ait Ourir but, as in many areas in Morocco, water is a precious resource and aridness often dominates the landscape. On this outing, the field work involved distributing trees to five schools through Sami’s project in the hopes of improving Rural Moroccan schools.
Walking around the school brought up fond memories of my first school. My school had a very beautiful garden and every morning the children walked through an imposing alley of old trees to the school buildings. The daily surrounding of nature had a positive impact on my time in school. The students in Ait Ourir (and in many other Moroccan villages) have the same chance to learn about the environment because of Sami’s project. The children were eager and happy to learn how to plant trees in their school gardens and therefore improve the learning environment.
After planting, it became very clear that the access to water will decide if the trees grow or not. The school gardens are often in very dry areas with a lack of vegetation. For every tree planted, HAF had to provide plenty of water for the plants and the same process has to be continued in order to keep the trees alive and growing. Ms. Amina, one of HAF’s project facilitators explained to the staff of the schools how to benefit from the whole biological cycle of trees by using the leaves when they fall down for creating compost.
The Abteh school was a great example of student’s projects helping the school environment, which was shown through a beautiful school garden. When we visited the school, the students had been preparing for a week about the various sides of sustainability and they were preparing example art projects which highlighted the ever growing issue of plastic trash in Moroccan wilderness. All this unwanted refuse is having a negative impact on Morocco’s ecosystem and is causing irreversible damage to nature, thereby influencing the life of people in Morocco in a detrimental way.
This field trip was one of the last days of my internship with HAF and I am deeply grateful that I had the chance, thanks to this group of wonderful HAF team members, to gain experience in development work in Morocco through working in the Social Media team in the office as well as having the possibility to visit the projects. I will leave with a much larger repertoire of working and life skills which I can bring back to Germany and which will for sure have a positive and important impact on my future.