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Sowing Seeds and Growing Gardens

By Jacqueline Seeley
March 29, 2016

Normally, sowing seeds is something we do in the soil outside, but now the High Atlas Foundation is also sowing seeds within people!

How is that possible, you may ask? Well, in partnership with the Empowerment Institute, two of HAF’s staff have been trained as IMAGINE Empowerment Workshop Facilitators, enabling them to build participants’ agency and empowerment.

The workshop is a four-day process with four key aims, namely to (a) identify individual goals and aspirations; (b) release residual hurtful and painful issues that act as a block to development; (c) dig deep into the internal subconscious and (d) build the techniques necessary to create each person’s ideal life as they envision it.

The reach and implications of such a process are wide-ranging, extending far beyond the personal sphere, into the professional and intellectual domain – something that is potentially extremely beneficial for all organizations, including HAF and its partners.

The inspiring, readily understandable metaphor of cultivating a garden is employed throughout to great effect; the seeds being planted here are the participants’ own visions, their deepest desires to create and nurture a beautiful life (the garden) that flourishes and prospers.  One of the principal tasks is to ‘water the seeds and not the weeds’ – basically this means focusing on possibilities and solutions, rather than directing our energies towards problems (a process which creates even more problems and depletes energy).

The powerful, individual growth process that takes place during the four days breaks down barriers and sparks innate, untapped human potential that lies within all of us, as the program empowers individuals to create and use the tools they need to do what they think they can’t achieve, but truly can.

HAF’s IMAGINE facilitators are perfect examples of two women tapping into their immense potential for human connection, leadership and agency-building.

Fatima-Zahra Laaribi, HAF’s Office Manager, conducted her first IMAGINE workshop with a combination of beneficiaries from Ourika and Asni, as well as HAF’s female staff.  Ms. Laaribi was ecstatic to see how all of the women, with their different backgrounds and diversity, nevertheless formed a single, tight-knit group that embodied trust, compassion, honesty and growth. “It was an extremely powerful experience to lead, I thank Allah for his blessings so that I was able to have brought so much happiness to these women” explained Ms. Laaribi.

At the end of the four days, everyone wanted to continue ‘watering their seeds’!  Reluctant to return home, in so doing each woman was able to share the knowledge gained with her sisters, friends, community, partners and loved ones, so that Ms. Laaribi already has a list of women wishing to participate in the next workshop.

Jacqueline Seeley, HAF’s Director of Development, conducted her first IMAGINE workshop with students (undergraduate, graduate and PhD candidates) and civil society members at the Hassan II University in Mohammedia. “The participants were excited,
eager and so happy to have such an opportunity like this.” Ms. Seeley explained. “They requested even more opportunities for personal growth, and were truly grateful as normally students have to pay for these type of workshops.”

Through a mountain of hugs and Moroccan cheek kissing, it was clear that IMAGINE answered a need within female youth and civil society members – Ms. Seeley even received drawings of thanks and gratitude.  Since young men have already indicated their interest in their program, Ms. Seeley will also be reaching out to male students in order to conduct the workshop with them in the future.

Ms. Laaribi and Ms. Seeley were trained in the United States by David Gershon and Gail Straub, the founders of the Empowerment Institute. Initial training, which lasts six months, is both theoretical and experiential. In addition, Ms. Laaribi participated in an IMAGINE Workshop in Amman, Jordan to gain a deeper insight into the material; you can read about here experience here.  Both plan to undertake a further workshop in April and to head back to the Empowerment Institute in June to continue their own personal growth and empowerment process.

At the High Atlas Foundation, in celebration of empowerment and agency-building programs everywhere, we invite you to tap into your creative internal knowledge, question your answers, and take the steps to live your dreams, for the benefit of all!

If you’d like more information about the IMAGINE program or the Empowerment Institute, please visit their website at https://www.empowermentinstitute.net/

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