“Political freedom alone is still not enough if you lack clean water. Freedom alone is not enough without light to read at night, without time or access to water to irrigate your farm, without the ability to catch fish to feed your family. For this reason, the struggle for sustainable development nearly equals the struggle for political freedom.”
About eight years after the death of the great South African activist, humanist, and former President, we celebrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela for bringing awareness to humanitarian responsibilities around the globe. Mandela committed himself to informing others of the importance of education for the next generation, a sustainable plant, and equal access to healthcare. At the High Atlas Foundation, we find ourselves one with the same vision and values that Mandela maintained.
In 2005, Mandela founded the Nelson Mandela Foundation and partnered with UNICEF to create the Schools for Africa campaign in support of education. In his own words, “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.” For the rural and urban communities who HAF serves in the different regions of Morocco, supporting education initiatives is our shared key priority as well. Together, we have made contributions to school infrastructure in terms of building clean water systems, bathrooms, classrooms, and teachers’ housing.
Equal access to healthcare was an uphill battle that Mandela made his goal to achieve for the wellbeing of his people. The apartheid system led many in South Africa to not receive proper care. According to the Moroccan Ministry of Health, there is an average of only 7.9 health workers per 10,000 people in the nation’s 12 regions. In this regard, the High Atlas Foundation is in the process of integrating public health awareness into its Imagine women’s empowerment methodology, which has been implemented nearly 40 times with over 900 participants in 11 Moroccan provinces since 2016.
Moreover, Mandela made environmental sustainability and access to water focal points. “Access to water is a common goal. It is central in the social, economic, and political affairs of the country, [African] continent, and the world. It should be a lead sector of cooperation for world development,” Mandela said. “No water, no future.” The United Nations released the IPCC report in 2013, which highlighted the impact of desertification on the water cycle around the world, underscoring the importance of access to water. In rural Morocco, water is consistently the #1 prioritized need, as it is the very basis of quality of all aspects of life. In this regard, HAF works to provide efficient water and irrigation infrastructure and localize access to renewable energies in conjunction with its agricultural programs, particularly the raising and planting of fruit trees. This is accomplished through various partnerships and programs, such as the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program, which currently provides technical, integrated agricultural expertise to cooperatives and associations in the Marrakech-Safi, Beni Mellal – Khenifra, and Oriental regions of Morocco. Ecosia (use their search engine to achieve good!) and other partners work with HAF and farming communities to enable widespread tree-planting and monitoring in Morocco.
In conclusion, the High Atlas Foundation joins in upholding the legacy and contributions of the South African leader and activist Nelson Mandela. His humanist life and mission helps to inspire our and global efforts.
Marij W. Janjua is a student at University of Texas at Austin studying International Business, Government, and Health. He is an intern at the High Atlas Foundation.