Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Unsung Heroes Post #7, Karima!

Interview with Karima Belouad

Karima Belouad is a current local intern here at Dar Si Hmad who
specializes in translation.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Karima Belouad and I am 25 years old.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Agadir, and my family is also from the area.

Are you currently in school/ studying and if so where?
I attended Ibon Zohr University for my undergraduate degree where
I got my B.A. in English Linguistics. I am currently studying at King Fahd
School of Translation in Tangier. I am working on my final research paper
about the ideology of translation. I’ve specialized in the translation
between Arabic, French and English.

Describe your role at DSH/ how you became involved with DSH.
I am currently working with Dar Si Hmad as a translator for the manual
of procedures. I am translating it from French to English and Arabic.
However, I’ve been involved with Dar Si Hmad previously as well.
Last year I needed an internship for my school, so I applied here and
was accepted. Last May I worked on translating parts of the manual as
well. I also got to travel to Sidi Ifni with a German journalist where we
interviewed the local Amazigh people about the effects of the Fog Harvesting
project on their lives. We also interviewed people who were expecting to
benefit from the project soon to hear what expectations and excitement
they had in regards to having water flow into their homes. I traveled to
Sidi Ifni again this past January/ February as a Dar Si Hmad speaking
partner for an EFS group visiting form Rabat which was another really
fun learning experience.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
My favorite part about working with Dar Si Hmad is having the opportunity
to experience so many new things, such as being a journalist, traveling and
meeting so many new people from both Morocco and abroad. The DSH office
is such a friendly work environment to be in as well. It also feels so rewarding
to be apart of a NGO that’s doing very successful and impactful work.

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
I want everyone to know that Dar Si Hmad has such a huge impact in the
region of Aït Baamrane; the fog project is changing people’s lives dramatically!
Dar Si Hmad also has a lot of impact here on the youth of Agadir with its
RISE Program and internship opportunities. It gives the whole city of Agadir
a good name throughout Morocco.

What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH?
Last year when I went to Sidi Ifni for the first time with the German journalist,
we interviewed several families in the villages that are benefitting from the
Fog Harvesting project. When we approached the families and mentioned
that we were from Dar Si Hmad, they were instantly elated and welcomed
us so genuinely with open arms. Seeing them react with such an overflow of
gratitude and love was overwhelming. It made me realize for the first time
that I was truly working with something valuable and meaningful. All of the
trouble we had getting to the villages was worth it to see these people and
experience their joy. During this trip, I also walked with the women on their
old route to the wells to collect water. It was so tiring, even without carrying
buckets of water! I got to meet the mothers of women who previously
collected water for their families, and they were so grateful and appreciative
that their daughters no longer had the burden they carried their whole lives.
Talking to these people personally verified all of my work and efforts with
Dar Si Hmad.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Unsung Heroes Post 6: Natalie Sullivan

Interview with Natalie Sullivan

Natalie Sullivan is a Fulbright intern at Dar Si Hmad
from the United States.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Natalie Sullivan and I am 23 years old.

Where are you from?
I am from Houston, Texas.

How long have you been in/ lived in Agadir?
I’ve been in Agadir for about 6 months.

Where did you graduate from & with what degree?
I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in
English and Arabic.

What brought you to Agadir/ Dar Si Hmad?
I'm here in Morocco as part of the Fulbright program, which is an
international exchange program. I was placed in Agadir to work as a
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at ENCG. Fulbright also encourages
people to volunteer alongside their teaching. I really like DSH's mission
and the work that they do, so I volunteer/intern here as well!

Describe your role at DSH:
I've mainly been working on developing curriculum and teaching
sessions of the RISE program. Last semester it focused on professional
development, and this semester it'll be more discussion-based,
focusing on "taboo topics" like immigration, freedom of belief, and
gender in Morocco. The students are always motivated, and it's been
great working with them.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
Seeing Dandara (the office cat)! Honestly though, the best thing about
DSH for me is the people who work there. They're all incredibly intelligent,
hard working and fun. They've gone above and beyond to make me feel
comfortable here. Couscous Fridays are another major perk, too!

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
They do amazing work, not only with the fog project, but in other areas
too-- the Oasis School, EFS, and RISE.

What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH?
One time I was teaching a RISE session on my birthday and the students
made a surprise birthday video for me and played it in the middle of the
lesson! It was such a sweet gesture, and the DSH staff all signed a birthday
card for me too!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Unsung Heroes Post 5: Dandara!

Interview With Dandara
Dandara is staff member Soufian Aaraīchi’s daughter and Dar
Si Hmad’s favorite furry friend. She is a crucial member of the Dar Si Hmad
team and provides endless emotional support with her cuddles and
playful spirit.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Dandara and I am 4 months old.

Favorite nap spot.
The perrrr-fect spot to take naps is in the printer in the sunroom. It gets so
warm and cozy in there, and it’s just a great spot to snuggle up and sleep.

Favorite hiding places.
Oh I have so many! I love to hide in the printer in the sunroom, the box in
Abdallah’s closet, inside people’s bags and the cabinets. I have a couple
more, but I need to keep those secret.

Favorite day of week
My favorite day of the week is definitely Friday because we usually
order couscous and I always get some chicken or meat from the leftovers.
It’s so delicious. I jump up on Soufian’s or Maisie’s lap and they usually give
me more. Afterwards, I go take a nap in the sunroom.  

Favorite snack
I love leftover chicken tagine! Whenever I smell it in the office, I go running
to the kitchen and ask very nicely for someone to share with me. Sometimes
they don’t give it to me right away, but I make sure to let them know how much I want it.

Role at DSH/ why your role is important
My job at Dar Si Hmad is to make people smile. Everyone works so hard and
sometimes things get hectic and stressful. When that happens, I do my best to
be extra cute and playful to see my friends smile again. I will also occasionally
let people hold and snuggle with me to make them feel even better. They also like
it when I get extra crazy and knock over the trash cans or play with stuff on their desks.

Favorite things to do.
I love to play with candy wrappers that I find in the trash. They’re so fun to
chase around the hallways. I also love sleeping in Maisie’s purse or napping
on Soufian’s arm while he’s working on his computer. Eating chicken is one
of my favorite things ever! Sometimes birds will fly into the kitchen from outside
and I will practice hunting them, but they usually get away.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Unsung Heroes Interview Number 4: Georgia Morgan

Interview of Georgia Morgan

Georgia Morgan is an American intern at Dar Si Hmad who worked on the
RISE 5.2 semester and piloted the ‘Unsung Heroes of Dar Si Hmad’ Project.
She is on a gap year of service through UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship.
Tomorrow is her last day of internship at DSH and we are all going to miss her!

Interview conducted on 20 March 2018.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Georgia Morgan and I am 19 years old.

Where are you from?
I am from Cary, North Carolina in the United States.

How long will you be in Agadir?
I’ve been in Agadir for 2 months now, and I’ll be leaving in about a week
and a half for Italy as the last part of my gap year.

Where do you currently go to school?
This August, I will start my studies at the University of North Carolina in
Chapel Hill. I’m not sure what I’ll major in yet, but I am interested in
environmental studies, international relations/ global studies and journalism/
mass communication.

What brought you to Agadir/ DSH?
I am here in Agadir working with Dar Si Hmad as a part of my university’s
Global Gap Year Fellowship. I applied and was accepted to UNC last fall and
decided to apply to this fellowship that allows about 8 rising freshman to do a
year of service abroad before beginning their university education. My goal for
this gap year has been to work with organizations that focus on human rights
and environmentalism. Before coming here, I spent 3 months in Cape Town,
South Africa working with a refugee and migrant organization. Dar Si Hmad
seemed like a perfect second venture, as this organization specifically addresses
human rights and environmental issues and how the two directly impact each other.  

Describe your role at DSH.
Here at Dar Si Hmad, I’ve been heavily involved in the new semester of
RISE, including reading applications, organizing interviews, selecting members,
curriculum design and facilitating/ participating in the actual sessions. It’s
been a lot of fun to meet young Moroccans around my age and learn from
their perspectives on the social issues we’ve been discussing. I’ve also been
in charge of starting this project! When I first arrived to Agadir in January,
this project was proposed to me and I began developing the ideas and goals
of the ‘Unsung Heroes of Dar Si Hmad’. I came up with a list of people to
interview and photograph as well as questions we’d like to ask to gain some
insight into these people’s lives and roles here at DSH. It’s been a lot of fun,
and I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone further, hearing new stories and
seeing how much Dar Si Hmad’s work and community means to people.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
My favorite part about coming into Dar Si Hmad has been the community,
especially with the RISE sessions. On days we have RISE, there’s always a
lot of people in the office and it’s a very engaging day. I’ve really enjoyed
working with Alex, Natalie, Ayman, Hafida, Sara and Maisie to make this
semester of RISE a reality! On the days we hold sessions, we usually spend
the day preparing and have lunch together which is a lot of fun. Then we come
back together for the actual session, and it’s really great to see all the RISErs
come in smiling and fresh with ideas. Everyone at Dar Si Hmad is so friendly
and generous. I come in every morning and am greeted by Abdallah’s
smiling face, Maisie’s bubbly personality, Soufian’s contagious laugh and every
now and then, our fluffy friend Dandara.  

What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH?
One of my most memorable moments at Dar Si Hmad was on a Wednesday,
and Maisie wanted to go out to lunch to have rfissa in Batoir. Everyone in the
office decided to go, but it was pouring rain outside which is very uncommon
for Agadir. We decided to go anyway, and we had to run through the rain for
about 10 minutes. By time we got to the restaurant we were all soaking wet and
laughing because we felt so silly. We had a great lunch though and devoured
the rfissa. We had good conversation, lots of laughs, delicious food and warm
tea as the rain poured outside. It was just a really fun day and one of my first
adventures with my coworkers.

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
I want everyone to know how truly amazing, impressive and impactful the work done by
Dar Si Hmad is. The office and staff size is all quite small, which makes it even more
impressive when learning about all that this organization has done and continues to
do. The fog project in Aït Baamrane is incredible and has changed the lives of the
people in those villages. Additionally, the Oasis School, Permaculture project,
Ethnographic Field School and RISE Program provide so many opportunities
for not only people in the Aït Baamrane region, but also in Agadir and internationally.
I have learned a lot and been inspired by the incredibly hardworking and passionate
people I’ve worked with and met here through Dar Si Hmad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Abdellah Zaaboul: Unsung Heroes Interview 3

Interview for Abdellah Zaaboul

Abdellah Zaaboul is a bicycle delivery man who works for Assaka café in Agadir.
He brings bread and tea to Dar Si Hmad almost daily, and will also deliver
delicious tagines for lunch and amazing couscous on Fridays.

If you are in Agadir and are interested in Abdellah’s delicious services,
please call 0661504678 to see if Assaka café’s delectable Moroccan cuisine
can be delivered to you!

What is your name?
My name is Abdellah Zaaboul.

Where are you from?
I am originally from Tiznit, Morocco where my family is currently living.
I go to Tiznit almost every weekend to visit them.

How long have you been in/ lived in Agadir?
I moved to Agadir in 1993, and I have lived and worked here ever since.

What is your occupation?
I work at Assaka café (also known as B’Aaroub) here in Agadir. I don’t have
just one job at the cafe; I play all of the roles depending on where the need is.
Sometimes I will cook, serve, clean and deliver food all in the same day.
I’ve been working here since I moved to Agadir in 1993.

How are you involved with Dar Si Hmad? (Describe “behind the scenes role.”)
And how long have you been involved with Dar Si Hmad?
I deliver food (khobz, atay, tagines, couscous, and more) from Assaka to Dar Si
Hmad on my bicycle. I’ve been delivering food to the office for about 10 months now.
I used to deliver food to people in the area by foot, but I wanted to improve my efficiency
and deliver to more customers in a shorter amount of time. As a result, I had the idea of
delivering on my bike! At first it was challenging, but the more I did it, the more I improved
at carrying the dishes while riding my bike through the city’s traffic.

What is the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is when we finish all of the deliveries, clean up the dishes
and kitchen and leave feeling fulfilled after a hard day of work. It feels great to enjoy
the free moments of the evening after a busy day of satisfying our customers. That’s
the feeling of success.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
Dar Si Hmad is a family, not an office. From the first time I delivered to Dar Si Hmad,
I was impressed by the family environment of the workplace. Everyone here also pays
me right on time or in advance for my services, and I really appreciate that. I never lose
money when I come to Dar Si Hmad. They are very genuine and honest as well; if I
ever forget to collect a payment for a delivery, they are sure to remind me and pay me
in full. The staff here makes me feel so welcome and respected. They will ask me about
my day and talk to me like family. I really enjoy coming into Dar Si Hmad.

What is one of your most memorable moments on the job?
One time on a delivery for a big event, I was on Avenue El Mouqwama by Dar Si
Hmad when a taxi suddenly hit me. I was thrown across the street along with my
bike and all the food I was carrying. It was pretty disastrous, and I ended up almost
breaking my arm. However, this was a very big event that I was delivering to, so I
went back to the café to get more food, made a sling for my arm and managed to
deliver the food to the event that night with my good arm. After I got my bike fixed,
I continued to make deliveries with one arm while my other one was healing in the sling.

I would like to give a special ‘thank you’ to Dar Si Hmad staff member
Abdallah El Moutaouif for assisting in translation and in arranging the
entire interview.