By Katie Bercegeay,
HAF Project Manager
On October 10, 2019, the High Atlas Foundation kicked off a new project in partnership with the University Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah (USMBA) in Fez to establish a Law Clinic and Legal Aid program which actively engages students in experiential and service learning for the greater good of the local community.
Born out of a need previously identified by students and university administration, the project, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, is “to foster greater cooperation among local civil society organizations and universities and promote service learning.” It was inspired by a similar HAF-NED project conducted at the Faculty of Law, Sciences, and Economics in Mohammedia between 2014 and 2016.
During the day, HAF’s Farmer-to-Farmer Country Director Moulay Hassan Aladlouni, Project Manager Katie Bercegeay, and Volunteer Experts for Development Association President Mostafa Mouslih attended a lunch courtesy of Pr. Mohammed Bouzlafa, Dean of the Faculty of Juridical, Economic, and Social Sciences. They then visited the Abdelaziz Child Protection Center in Fez. This is an institution that is part of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and with which HAF has maintained a partnership since 2017 to establish and maintain a nursery for pomegranate, fig, a diversity of other types of trees. The youth at the Center help maintain the nursery as they build employable skills. HAF is looking to bring this program to Centers around the country.
An inaugural meeting was held with Dean Bouzalfa at the Faculty of Law. Details of the project were outlined and first steps toward project implementation agreed upon. The Dean expressed his excitement about establishing a law clinic and legal aid program at the university during his first year in this new leadership role. Such a program has been a longstanding goal of the Faculty of Law in Fez. It was decided that the best approach to be taken was first to invest in selecting and training student participants in soft, technical, and applied skills before opening for business and collaboration with civil society partners. At the meeting, all parties joined in their commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all genders throughout the course of the project and to hit the ground running.
We extend our deepest gratitude to Mr. Mostafa Mouslih and the Volunteer Experts for Development who have been integral to HAF project planning and implementation in Fez and at USMBA. Their expertise and network have given a substantial foundation to this legal aid project.