By Erracihd Montassir, HAF Project Manager
HAF’s partner–the Vacation Project (VP), which is a program created for social, service, and experiential travel–engages in voluntary work with communities around the world. From the 2nd to the 4th of January 2018, VP and HAF visited our community partners in the Ouirgane municipality of the Azzadene Valley. Eleven VP travelers and HAF project manager Errachid Montassir spent four days with six host families and committed to voluntary work with the community, especially to implement Sami’s Project.
First day: Tuesday, 2nd Januray 2018:
We arrived in the Azzadene Valley (Tiziene village) at 11:00h. Meeting our host families was a great beginning of our visit and objectives. The local people were extremely excited to host two of us in one home, so there were 6 host families in total; two of them hosted male travelers and the remaining hosted female. .
After they had a lunch meal with host families, at 14:00h we moved to an apple orchard four kilometers from the village with host family member Brahim, who wanted to irrigate his 300 apple trees. The trees were not in a flat place so it was quite difficult to water them with a tube coming from the spring. Each one of the volunteers contributed in moving earth and irritating. We returned to the village and met some of the local youth.
Just after that I went to meet the director of the primary school in the village, to further coordinate our visit to the same school on the next day. In the evening all the female volunteers helped women from the village cook a group dinner.
Second day: Wednesday, 3rd January 2018
Our next step was our main effort: to implement Sami’s Project. We went to a school in the morning shared by four with several objectives: Meet the kids and do a workshop with them about the environment, and to deliver school supplies (backpacks, soccer balls, winter hats, pens and others).
The students and teachers were so happy to have that good relation with people from outside of Morocco and to spend fruitful half day with them. We did many activities with the kids; for instance, having them draw their future school, which is a participatory method to figure our their needs in the school, and the first priority was the bathrooms. Some VP volunteers were so excited to help with the school’s infrastructure in the future. During the second half of the day the volunteers helped farmers in building agricultural terraces.
Third day: Thursday, 4th January 2018
All the volunteers met the local association and they helped them build a new small basin around a spring’s source three hours from the village, as well as they together discussed new project ideas for the local association.
At night we had an extremely emotional workshop with farmers and youth people, using the HAF’s participatory approach to find out their problems and needs in the village. There were tears after they broke down the barriers between the community and the international volunteers.
The first three project priorities were:
1- A center for the local association
2- Hospital and sewage system
3- A women’s apple vinegar cooperative and agricultural basin
Fourth day: 5th January 2018
On the last day of our visit, we woke up super early, going to the field to help farmers in collecting tree branches.
We then conducted a workshop with the village women. This was my first time I facilitated a women’s workshop using the participatory approach (with VP volunteers), and it was another emotional moment between the women of the village and us. The women’s priorities are:
1- Women apple vinegar cooperative
2- Sewage system
The women’s workshop ended up with a strong relationship between the women volunteers and the village women, helping to ensure that they will meet again and to contribute in achieving dreams. It was so sad to say goodbye to the community and the host families, everyone cried.
VP volunteers were so happy to spend a few days with HAF in Tiziene. It was the first time they participate in a workshop using the participatory approach with communities. Some of them will come back to Morocco, and some will apply these concepts at home or wherever life takes them.