Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project

Aug 29, 2014

Summer updates and school curriculum

Children in schoolyard
Children in schoolyard

Although it has been a hot summer, that has not prevented communities from maintaining the health and ensuring the growth of their trees! Here are some project updates from the various school benefitting from Sami’s Project.

The headmaster of Talat n Yaacoub school ensures the well-being of the trees. The school has a generous amount of property upon which they plan to create an environmental club that includes all types of trees that suit the area. This school is provided with enough water from its well, conveniently located on the school property. Currently, the school is seeking help from their commune to install a drip system to water their trees.

The Loualja school has greatly benefited from the tree-planting activity and initiatives of the High Atlas Foundation. In addition, the school has developed and formalized a partnership with the local youth association. This association consists of school alumni who are committed to implementing further project activities and taking care of the facility.

At the Imgdal School, the trees are flourishing as the students water them during vacation. The teachers encourage the students to take care of trees at the Lberj School. Some of the kids said that ‘’owning and watering a tree is a privilege for me from this school’. At this school, all the trees in this school are irrigated via connection to the drip system, which uses tap water.

The teachers and the students chose, as a result of a consensus vote, a student from grade 6 to water the trees during vacation. He was chosen because he had a pervious experience: his own family has a similar drip-system of irrigation in their yard. In addition, many other students assisted him in the process of maintaining these trees.

In July, HAF staff and local teachers discussed some of the major challenges teachers face in rural areas. Particular grievances were related to curriculum. Currently, High Atlas Foundation is working on creating a standard curriculum, to benefit these rural areas.

Trees in Sami
Trees in Sami's project schoolyards
Jun 2, 2014

Progressing towards a billion trees

The High Atlas Foundation has planted over one million trees across Morocco, helping around 50,000 people out of poverty. HAF's nurseries and fruit tree plantations show how Morocco can produce efficiently and profitably a billion trees and plants. These projects also show how Moroccans can overcome existential challenges shared with other nations in the region and the world: pervasive rural poverty, the marginalization of youth and women and land degradation . Other HAF projects include: the construction of drinking water systems in villages that are among the most distant (by decreasing infant mortality by half); the creation of women's cooperatives, including agricultural terraces and installation of drip irrigation systems (in providing social services and employment); building schools, housing for teachers and bathrooms to schools, and training in participatory planning and arboriculture and organic farming. Due to the success of the "One Million Trees campaign," in 2014, HAF aims to expand and improve Sami's Project to educate and impact a wider audience with the following steps towards:

  • Educating the public, especially young people, in the preservation of the environment, and promoting the benefits of small-scale tree showing the direct impact of innovative farming techniques on family incomes.
  • Encouraging youth to defend their own interests in education, socio-economic community development and environmental conservation through the participatory approach. 
  • Enhancing the activities of  civil society and strengthening linkages and exchanges between schools, communities, and other partners to build strong school communities in order to support disadvantaged youth in rural Morocco. 
  • Maximizing opportunities to improve, disseminate, and utilize the project results to other regions in Morocco

An important objective of HAF is to establish the need to create and implement sustainable projects that benefit entire communities. By strengthening the capacity of stakeholders in the agricultural sector and project management, community members will have access to a wider range of pathways to economic prosperity. This entrepreneurial model includes preparing the younger generation for economic growth by teaching farming skills that can be reproduced in their homes with trees provided by Sami's Project.

In collaboration with the Organice Cooperative Nursery, environmental and educational projects will build on the activities carried out by HAF in the province of Essaouira, exposing a larger number of rural citizens to the Foundations' participatory approaches. This will allow further identification of needs and potential human development projects in rural areas, including in the participating schools. Activities preceding planting in the Provinces of Al Haouz and Rhamna led to the development of construction projects such as toilets, accommodation for teachers and students and also to projects in the field of hygiene.

HAF and the El Kouhen family are thankful to the support of so many contributions that have helped this project thrive and grow.  Now that HAF has planted one million trees, we look forward to planting one billion trees so that thousands of young people may benefit from Sami's project and his legacy.

Mar 3, 2014

The Pinnacle of Sami's Project

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and Sami's Project celebrated the planting of HAF's the one millionth tree on January 16, 2014.  HAF was honored to have Dr. Rachid El Kouhen, the impetus of Sami's Project, present for this joyous occasion that celebrated the too-short life of Dr. El Kouhen's son, Sami, and a greener future for Moroccans.  Sami's project honors Sami El Kouhen, who illustrated a love of the outdoors before succumming to cancer at the young age of three.  Sami's memory is evoked by the planting of trees by elementary school-aged children to bring sustainable and transformational benefits to Morocco.

On January 16th, Dr. El Kouhen represented Sami's family to share in the celebration of the 1 Million Tree Campaign and Sami's Project.  With HAF Program Director Malika Kassi, Dr. El Kouhen planted trees with students of five schools and explained to the students the importance of protecting their trees. School children at 43 locations around Morocco planted trees and took part in lessons about environmental preservation.  Dr. El Kouhen also visited a local association women's association to learn from the women about the issues they are faced with and the goals of the association. 

Looking to the future, Dr. El Kouhen imagines the young participants of Sami's Project growing up alongside the trees they planted, which was made possible by the kindness of donors all over the world.  He hopes that they will be proud of their hard work and of the impact upon their community and Morocco as a whole.  The gift of trees to the youth of rural Morocco provides an important development tool to encourage responsible stewardship for coming generations.  The planting of HAF's one-millionth tree was an important and joyous day for HAF and the El Kouhen family, but Sami's father considers every tree planted as a pinnacle of the project.

HAF and the El Kouhen family are thankful to the support of so many contributions that have helped this project thrive and grow.  Now that HAF has planted one million trees, we look to planting one billion trees so that thousands of young people may benefit from Sami's project and his legacy.

Dec 2, 2013

HAF to Plant 1 Millionth Tree with Schoolchildren

Dr. Rachid El Kouhen, Sami's father, recently reflected on the transformational work of Sami's project:

"Franklin Roosevelt said; “We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.”  Sami's Project encourages children to be their own advocates for education through the participatory approach that gives them a stake in their education...a few years down the road, today’s kids will be looking around and be proud of the amazing work and impact they had on their schools, communities, regions, and country as whole.  By the same token, Sami’s project is providing trees as a tool for growth and development of these kids into responsible and steward generation."

Sami's project is an important element of HAF's organic agirculture initiative, the One Million Tree Campaign. On 16th January 2014 we will celebrate the success of this campaign in various locations throughout Morocco. Over ten years, we estimate to have helped 50,000 people make the step out of poverty. The project is poised to continue indefinitely, at an accelerated pace, with 500,000 young trees expected to be planted in 2014 alone, many of which will be planted with schoolchildren.

The planting of HAF's One Millionth Fruit Tree will occur in eight provinces simultaneously where HAF currently has projects: Al Haouz, Azilal, Boujdour, Essaouira, Ifrane, Rhamna, Taroudant, and Taza. As a part of Sami’s project, this event will be celebrated with schoolchildren, and the millionth tree will be planted in school yards as symbol of commitment for this generation and the next to take care of our earth and find sustainable methods for our lives.

Thanks to you, schoolchildren and community members benefit from environmental knowledge and trainings, and are given the tools to break the cycle of poverty. Every donation received until the January 16th planting event will provide additional trees to be planted on this day, and will enable us to expand the scope of this transformative project. 


Sep 3, 2013

Celebrating Morocco's Youth

21 August was Youth Day in Morocco. This article was written by Malika Kassi, HAF Project Manager, in tribute to Morocco's young people.

Community-driven and Participatory Development: Morocco’s Key to Sustainable and Equitable Growth

tree planting - Sami's projectOne of the things that I discovered and recognized during my experience with HAF is the concept of participatory contribution to sustainable development.  Although in my life the action of participating in good works and deeds have always been present, the concept of participatory development was not clear until I worked for HAF. Now I experience the beauty of this concept every day in my life. Participation is the fastest way to change the world for sustainability, economy, agriculture, health and well-being purposes. Most of the rural young girls and boys do not have access to education and health services. These communities survive with little income, which creates a huge frustration and makes the youth feel unable to fulfill their potential.

When we lead community meetings with young people, they develop new and amazing ideas, yet the youth lack the opportunity to put these ideas motion. In this regard, the High Atlas Foundation plays a great role in developing human capital and other core assets of sustainable livelihood in nine provinces of Morocco. The best example HAF offers is scholarships for intelligent and disadvantaged students to pursue their academic studies. HAF helps not only the youth, but also it illustrates the way to fulfill their dreams.

Essaouira Cultural Project - Dar TalibI think my generation is very powerful and we shouldn’t be looked on as troublemakers but we need to be given opportunities as opportunities . HAF has helped to build the capacities of youth and made the channels of communication wide open.  Typically; HAF’s trainers and facilitators sit with the young people and they state their needs and list the solutions to their problems and concerns using the participatory devlopement techniques.

I believe my generation is very powerful because they have the drive to improve conditions in Morocco. The youth have passion and they can start their own businesses. They need, however, the government and relevant organizations to ease the difficulties that interfere with success. By doing so, together the youth and government can contribute to Morocco’s development. The youth do not want Morocco to experience un-just blood-shed. Morocco’s Green Plan 2020 has many initiatives that include the youth within the development process. Further it engages them into multiple types of inclusive programs.

visit to Christian cemetery EssaouiraI call the young to change their negative mindset and start to think about the solutions to better the societal conditions and embrace the characteristics of positive ethics, faithfulness and responsibility. This will build a strong civil society for a compatible sustainability. Nevertheless the youth can best participate, when heard and provided with the opportunity to grow.

Malika Kassi
HAF Project Manager

We hope this call to action reaches you, from Malika's mouth to you energy to make a difference. We are so grateful for your continued support to help these youth reach their full potential. 

We are committed to enabling more opportunities to kids this school year than ever before in Morocco, and your support is key to making this into reality. Thank you. 

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Project Leader

Jacqueline Seeley

New York City and Marrakech, NY (US) & AlHaouz (Maroc) Morocco

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Map of Improve Rural Moroccan Schools: Sami's Project