By Youssef Moussaoui
I have been volunteering for the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) for nearly a month now. Every day is a new experience, and the excitement never seems to end. This time, HAF planned a five-day tree-planting campaign in Fes, Sefrou, Azrou, and Meknes. Project manager Said Bennani and I travelled from Marrakech all the way to Fes. After a long drive, we arrived in Fes, safe and sound, hamdolilah (thank God). We met with Said’s old friends from when he lived in Fes; they were very nice people. Old friendships were rekindled.
Early morning on Monday, February 11, we went to the Abd Elaziz Ben Idriss Children Protection Center, where the HAF tree nursery also resides. We started with meeting the director; he welcomed us and expressed how happy he was to see us. Then he took us to see the children and they were very happy to see their good friend Said once again.
Some of the children’s metal work under Si Hamid’s coaching
We didn’t have so much time, so we decided to take plants to Skoura M’daz commune, and this is the first time HAF is implementing tree-planting activities in that region.
Khalid, the nursery caretaker, decided to come with us too to help with the process and learn more about the area and children there. After an hour drive, passing beautiful green hills filled with life, we finally arrived at Chariff Idrissi High School in Skoura M’daz.
We met with the Peace Corp volunteers; who came to learn as well. We conversed with everyone, including Khaoula Goumni, the person in charge of the planting. Every one introduced themselves and explained to the children how to plant trees and how to keep the trees healthy; they were very keen to participate.
Said introducing the High Atlas Foundation and its objectives
The planting began afterwards. Everyone planted their own tree, and we planted 33 trees in total: 9 almond, 9 fig, and 15 pomegranate. The Peace Corp Volunteers didn’t hesitate to get their hands dirty and help with the process. After we completed planting at the high school, we then went to the elementary school right next door to do their share of planting as well.
In contrast with the high school students, elementary school students were very curious and kept asking so many questions about nature, trees, and HAF. After all the questions had been answered, we began digging holes for the trees.
Even though the students are still very young, they were very hard workers. They dug most of the holes themselves. After we finished planting all the trees, the children thanked us for improving their school and vowed to watch over the trees until they grow. One of the students there approached us on the way out and said, “We are very sad that you are leaving but at the same time, we are very happy that you made our school more beautiful.”
At the end of an amazing first day in Skoura M’daz schools, we headed back to Fes with beautiful memories and so much gratitude for ECOSIA (the investor in HAF nurseries) and to HAF for this amazing opportunity. With the student’s kind words in our minds, we look forward to the new experiences and excitement tomorrow might bring.