The projects that HAF is doing are truly amazing, and its employees are very dedicated to its mission.
The High Atlas Foundation is an amazing and inspiring organization. I have been fortunate to work with many non profits on five continents, and I will say in a heartbeat that the High Atlas Foundation is by far the most effective. The first thing that stuck me about the HAF office is how the majority of the staff is Moroccan. This is significant because many NGOs operating in other countries have westerns staffing them, and this can lead to cultural barriers. This small example is just one of many that show how the High Atlas Foundation works so hard to empower the people of Morocco. The HAF staff works tirelessly, and the work that they do is equivalent to their personal passion. It is also worth mentioning that the relationships HAF has with the communities it works in is amazing, and that they truly make differences in the countless communities they work in. Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, the founder and president of HAF is an expert at the participatory approach to development, and it is used in all of the projects HAF implements. It is worth saying that not once in my 7 months with the organization did I feel that HAF was imposing it's ideas and goals on communities, instead they were working with communities every step of the way to hep them achieve their own dreams. I would highly recommend supporting this extraordinary organization.
Having spend two weeks with HAF, I was quite impressed with the scope of their work and the zeel that they bring to their efforts. Sans the technical details, they were willing to accept advice and learn from others. These comments apply to my work advising on their nurseries and in their office completing the required paperwork.
My name is Tim Ager I spent 2 weeks in Morocco under a USAID sponsored Farmer-to-Farmer program, in Marrakesh and Fez. I worked closely with the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and everyone involved was professional, helpful and extremely friendly. They facilitated in making my assignment successful, and I would not hesitate to work with them again. I found HAF to be a well run organization with great morale and camaraderie among the staff - who all enthusiastically welcomed me and made me feel at home.
I spent 2 weeks in Morocco under a USAID sponsored Farmer-to-Farmer program, in Marrakesh and Fez. I worked closely with the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and everyone involved was professional, helpful and extremely friendly. They facilitated in making my assignment successful, and I would not hesitate to work with them again. I found HAF to be a well run organization with great morale and camaraderie among the staff - who all enthusiastically welcomed me and made me feel at home.
In an arid country like Morocco water is exceptionally precious. Water is available in some places but hard to access. High Atlas Foundation is dedicated to expanding orchards of all kinds through its series of tree nurseries which it then contributes to interested farmers. High Atlas Foundation quickly learned that without water these orchards would not survive. They have now expanded their work to include acquiring water, designing drip irrigation systems and generally doing what is necessary to fund and grow successful tree crops.
I served as a volunteer for over two weeks for the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in Marrakesh, Morocco. The purpose was to assess the operations of their tree nurseries and to make recommendations on improvements in their nursery operations and tree distribution programs to rural households. I worked closely with the staff and traveled to the field to observe the operations of the HAF. I found the staff motivated to work with me and include me in their activities. I observed their nurseries in several locations and saw first hand how they produce and deliver tree samplings (almond and walnut) to villagers. I was impressed by their work with women cooperatives and building their capacity to improve their status and household livelihoods by producing Calendula for L'Oriel in Paris. I would strongly recommend HAF to anyone who wants a volunteer assignment in a great country, very cordial and polite people, and work that is both satisfying and rewarding. Gregory Sullivan, USAID Farmer to Farmer volunteer for International Executive Service Corp (IESC), Washington, D.C. USA
Moroccans and Foreigners Working Together
By Said El Bennani, HAF Project Manager
Each person is shaped by his own unique life experiences. One pivotal experience in my life that helped me to truly understand what it means to be an engaged, contributing member of society was my internship with the High Atlas Foundation.
In 2010 I moved from my hometown of Kelaa M’Gouna in southeastern Morocco to Marrakech to study at Cadi Ayyad University. I graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in geography. Normally students of geography travel throughout the country to study the topography, but unfortunately my studies were confined to just the classroom.
After graduating from university, I interned for three months with a government agricultural office in Marrakech. During this time, I worked with agricultural experts and visited farmers in their fields in Al Haouze Province. I also participated in field and theoretical trainings. I was finally able to study the physical land that I had only read about in books during university! It was very exciting for me to see first hand how Morocco’s unique geography plays a key role in our country’s development and economy.
Being in the field gave me an opportunity to learn from the local people and to hear about their experiences. It was during this time that I first heard about HAF’s work. HAF already had active projects in Al Haouze where I visited with my colleagues. However, at the time, I did not know very much about HAF and was not aware of the scope of their work.
In Marrakech I met several foreigners, including one person who asked me about my career aspirations. After I mentioned my experience interning at the government agricultural office, the foreigner told me about HAF and encouraged me to look at their website.
After hearing about the High Atlas Foundation from farmers, co-workers, and even a foreign tourist, it was clear that I needed to find out more about this organization. In February 2016, shortly after finishing my first internship, I visited HAF’s office. Fatima Zahra Laaribi, the office manager, was the first person I met at HAF. The way she greeted me greatly surprised me! She was very friendly and very kind. Eventually I was invited back for an interview to discuss my background, experience and interests. I also had the privilege of meeting HAF’s president, Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, whose down-to-earth, humble demeanor made an impression on me.
February 8, 2016 was my very first day as an intern at HAF, and I remember that day well. The office was already buzzing with many foreign interns and volunteers who were all congregated in one room while I sat with other office staff in another room. I was sure that I would have a chance to learn new skills and gain valuable experience with this international team. That day I was the only Moroccan intern and it was a little difficult for me to work with all the foreigners due to the language and cultural differences. Dr. Ben-Meir took notice of the fact that I was the only Moroccan amidst the group of foreigners and encouraged all of us to learn about and from each other, share our experiences and skills, and contribute to each other’s work. We took Dr. Ben-Meir’s suggestion to heart and discovered that together, we made a stronger, more effective team, forming strong bonds and friendships as we worked together on projects such as building a new outdoor structure that provides shade from the hot sun for women who work in the fields in the countryside. One example of successful cross-cultural collaboration was my experience working with one of the foreign interns who had also studied geography in her native country. She was very knowledgeable about geographic information system (GIS). My own knowledge of GIS was more limited, so I was able to learn from her and together we made maps of HAF project sites.
During my HAF internship, I was very fortunate to closely observe the president, Dr. Ben-Meir, perform his work and to learn many valuable and useful things from him. For example, I noticed how he is able to effectively communicate and connect with both the local people and the local administrators. He introduced me to community leaders throughout the country and also to many foreigners who are committed to promoting economic development in Morocco. I visited most of HAF’s project sites which provided invaluable insight into both the successes and benefits of the projects as well as the challenges.
I returned to Al Haouze in January 2017 to help distribute trees in schools for HAF’s big, annual tree planting celebration. It was a joy-filled experience planting trees with the students and teaching them how to care for the trees and how to appreciate and respect nature and the environment. Seeing their genuine interest in the tree planting project was very gratifying and I realized that I really enjoy this type of work.
HAF’s work has benefitted even my hometown, where trees were sent on behalf of HAF to my former primary school. When I studied there as a young child, there were no trees at the school. Now the school has its own well and enough water to take care of trees. I am very happy that the students at my former primary school had an opportunity to receive trees and learn about taking care of them, which I never had a chance to do when I was their age.
My dream job is to manage a major project in my country of Morocco and devote my time and energy to helping people gain the necessary skills and experience to earn sustainable incomes, thereby supporting and strengthening their families and their communities. My HAF internship prepared me well to carry out this work. In May 2017 I will move to Fes in northern Morocco to oversee HAF projects in that region. To say that I am excited about this opportunity is an understatement. I feel truly blessed and am honored and humbled to be able to help my fellow Moroccan citizens by doing this work. I also am very grateful for the people at HAF who are not only my work colleagues but also my good friends. Working with the HAF team has been a special and life-changing opportunity.
In closing, I wish to thank Dr. Ben-Meir for his life work and all that he has done and is doing to help Moroccans improve their standard of living and be self-sufficient. I also wish to thank the amazing, dedicated HAF team, including the interns and volunteers from Morocco and from all over the world, for welcoming me so warmly and teaching me how to be part of a multicultural team. I have learned that we can all benefit from collaborating together and respecting each other’s differences. I appreciate each person at HAF very much and thank everyone for the wonderful opportunities to join the important work of creating a more prosperous Morocco.
My experience with HAF was the best experience ever, I have learned too many things: Self-motivation ...., and the circumstances were good enough to make some new friendships with the other volunteers, The cop 22 was a good opportunity for me to discover a new world of business , politics ...
I would like to thank HAF for giving me the chance to be one of its volunteers, If you want to try some of the voluntary work, HAF is the best place for you.
My volunteer experience with HAF was amazing! I learned a lot of things during three months, I was taking pictures in many different events and activities, and this reminds me of the great moments I spent in the international event COP22. It helped me to develop my personality and have the ability to talk to strangers with various languages Arabic, French, English and sometimes Amazigh, I was also an active member in the office with so many volunteers that I am glad to know.
I would like to thank HAF for giving me the opportunity to experience new things and know more about myself.