by Aida Errafa, HAF student volunteer
Women in El Kebab province participate in an IMAGINE empowerment workshop. Photo credit: HAF
Thanks to the partnership between the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and Sultan Mulay Sliman University, and as a student of the National School of Commerce and Management, I had the chance to volunteer with a self-empowerment program for women in the El Kebab province (Beni Mellal-Khenifra region) called “Imagine Workshop.”
It was the first time I traveled alone with people I barely knew to a place I had never heard of before. At first, I had my doubts about whether I would fit in, but soon enough the members of HAF made it easy for me to integrate with the group through their kindness and their daily assistance.
During the four days of the workshop, I met girls and women with different backgrounds, ages and points of view, but all shared the same purpose: change. They want to develop themselves, influence their community to be better, and create a good future for their families and friends.
The communities suffer from a lot of problems, mainly the lack of water, the rarity of good opportunities for young women to be productive in their community, and the conservative mindsets of the majority of families about a woman’s role. These problems didn’t stop them from attending the workshop and learning about different subjects, such as managing and improving their finances, treating and taking care of their bodies, dealing with relationships and emotions, and other interesting subjects.
The members of HAF made sure that all the women participated. It wasn’t easy at first, knowing that speaking is the weakest skill for the majority of the participants , but the instructors encouraged them to speak, to be brave enough to share their emotions, and to take the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone.
During the exercises, we shared our stories, our achievements, our hopes for the future and our dreams; we learned to open up, to trust and to express ourselves, we cried together, we laughed, we danced, and we even celebrated the birthday of two wonderful instructors.
Thanks to the High Atlas Foundation and the director of the National School of Commerce and Management who always encourage university students to participate in such programs, I had an amazing experience, and came back home with new friends and unforgettable memories that will always be part of my heart.
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the High Atlas Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.