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.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Since childhood, I have always felt a special connection to water. My family owns a small farm in a remote village in Southwest Morocco and has always been concerned with water issues -- and so have I. The problem is real and has a deep impact on our daily life. Water issues are endangering my family’s - and my village’s - traditional ways of life. Agricultural production is threatened by the soil degradation, erosion, crop damage, and reduced harvests that result from extreme weather events such as drought, heat waves, and floods.
Inspired by their innovative fog water collection project, I got involved with local NGO Dar Si Hmad (DSH) which runs the world’s largest operational fog-harvesting project -- fog harvesting is an innovative technology based on the fact that water can be collected from fog under favorable climatic conditions. Last fall, I was so excited to join the organization to help prepare for the United Nations Climate Change conference (COP22). I was offered a unique opportunity to work directly with Executive Director Dr. Jamila Bargach and DSH stellar team to make sure that the organization looks its best at the international meeting in Marrakech, Morocco.
As my first real professional experience (while being enrolled in a full-time Grande École Master’s program), the organization set high expectations for my position and I had the opportunity to make a strong impact from day #1, which allowed me to learn so many things in a short amount of time. In fewer words, I've been drinking from a firehose.
Among the contributions that I am proud of are announcing our win of UNFCCC Momentum for Change award on the organization's blog/social media, presenting our projects to hundreds of visitors and journalists at COP22, and publishing various external communications materials (including the organization's 2016 Annual Report). It was both a culturally-immersive and intellectually-challenging experience since I had to do my job in three different languages with people from all around the world.
Happy International Water Day!
P.S.: Next July, I will be giving a talk about my experience (and especially my contribution to an environmental education and advocacy program in Morocco) at the American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS) conference that will take place at the University of Oxford.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Following an exciting and fruitful 2016, Dar Si Hmad's Water School is back in full swing for our second year. This year, the Water School will provide environmental education lessons for schoolchildren in a new part of the Ait Baamrane region. We have moved from Tinin Amlou to Tangarfa, and our beneficiaries are now totaled at 86; with 59 from one school and 27 from another. Working bimonthly, our Water School will span seven sessions, from February 16th until May 4th. Themes will cover the water cycle, animal and plant biology, community garden, health, recycling, conservation, ecosystems, and more!
While we are keeping to last year's innovative and detailed curriculum, new changes and updates have been made to ensure that Water School 2017 is the most beneficial it can be. This year our fantastic Water School teacher, Fatiha, has the goal to "give kids tools on how to be friends with their environment and to understand it very well, and to make them aware of climate change".
In order to accomplish our goals for 2017, staff, volunteers, and of course, Fatiha, have been busy working to set up new games, activities and materials for the students. Fatiha is hoping for an even better year than last! While she holds many moments and memories dear,"the most emotional one was when they named a tree with my name - 'Fatiha'."
And the School doesn't just help the students: it's a launch for many community projects and provides training for urban youth passionate about education. Last year, our Environmental Youth Ambassadors enjoyed their time immensely. Abdelhaq Ait Boulhous, former EYA and now part of our staff, suggests "all the new EYAs to go to Water School. Concerning Fatiha, she is like their sister; she interacts with the students deeply and with feeling. She is so incredible with her interactions with small children. Children want to know everything, and she is sharing all her knowledge with them. She is a great point of contact between Dar Si Hmad and these kids." Salma Edrif and Mahdi Lafram found themselves likewise inspired by Water School and its curriculum. Salma remarked upon the fact that while many Water School beneficiaries have never seen Agadir, or even the sea, they were able to tell "stories about the water cycle, molecule movement and deep understanding of what causes the water scarcity their villages suffer from. They showed me with pride around their small garden in the school yard, competing with each other to give me maximum accurate information about a tree’s life cycle and span, and their dreams to turn their community into a major national supplier of vegetables and fruits they will plant in their shared farm, once they are a bit older." Mahdi, who created short films about our sessions, believes that "the program was enriching and I loved every part of it - Water School was the best: from pedagogy and curricula to the energy of the children and the passion of the staff members."
Water School lessons are centered around the idea that water is the connector for all forms of life on the planet. The Water School is organized by three themes: basic ecology, uses and sources of water, and environmental stewardship. Each lesson plan is organized into a half-day session, and although each topic is introduced separately, learning is intended to build on itself. With water as the basis for each lesson, beneficiaries learn about worldwide ecosystems, communities, and sustainability. You can learn more about our lessons - and get ideas for teaching environmental stewardship in your community - by downloading a free copy of our Water School Curriculum: darsihmad.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/water-school-sc.pdf
Dar Si Hmad's partnership with local villages has led to very successful environmental education and engagement in the Ait Baamrane region. Our Water School is part of Dar Si Hmad's commitment to accessible environmental education for each and every child. In the wise words of Salma, "when the core of society receives such ecologically aware and sustainability driven mindset training from an early age, it becomes part of their own personal culture, their families, then their communities, through transmission." We hope you will join us and check back to see our Water Heroes in action!
Friday, February 3, 2017
Welcome, Salma and Abdelhaq! We look forward to strengthening our projects and extending our impact with you.
Friday, January 27, 2017
- Module 1: Project Ideas, Ideas evaluation and Pitching
- Module 2: Strategic Planning
- Module 3: Organization: Practical tools
- Module 4: Basic Organizational & Managerial Principles
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Check out the original post at http://www.aauw.org/2016/12/20/empowering-moroccan-women/
AAUW hosted Souad Kadi for a month this fall as part of the Professional Fellows Program, implemented by Hands Along the Nile and funded by the U.S. Department of State. As part of her fellowship program, Kadi spent time learning about AAUW’s fundraising, programs, and advocacy. During her fellowship she received leadership and grant writing training, connected with area nonprofits working on women’s and girls’ empowerment in her home country of Morocco, met AAUW members, and visited the United Nations.
“I look forward to using what I have learned during my fellowship in the United States and my time at AAUW to … continue the work of bridging the gender gap for young Moroccan girls and women.” — Souad Kadi
Here’s what Kadi had to say about her time at AAUW.
Women face numerous challenges in Moroccan society. The issue of gender inequality is still acute — Morocco ranked 139th out of 145 countries included in the 2015 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum — and lack of educational access for girls is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of bridging Morocco’s gender gap.
|Souad visited the United Nations during her time with AAUW.|
|Souad also visited the International Youth Foundation with AAUW staff and supporters during her fellowship|
|Souad on her last day at AAUW with Program Associate Theon Gruber Ford|
DSH also implements an annual Water School to expose both girls and boys from rural communities to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. By including girls in the curriculum and exposing them to STEM fields (as recommended in AAUW research), DSH’s Water School is actively taking steps to dismantle persistent sexist stereotypes that devalue Moroccan girls by deeming them less intellectually capable than boys. Approximately 120 girls have participated in the Water School project over the last three years.
I am proud of the impact I have been able to make on women’s empowerment work in Morocco through DSH and I look forward to using what I have learned during my fellowship in the United States and my time at AAUW to strengthen future DSH projects and continue the work of bridging the gender equality gap for young Moroccan girls and women.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
On November 8th, 2016, Mahdi Lafram and Salma Edrif along with program mentor Jade Lansing led a short presentation and discussion about Dar Si Hmad with Amideast-hosted National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) students in Marrakech. They talked about DSH innovative projects and their social impact in Southwest Morocco. The students were very curious and the team had an interesting conversation with this outstanding group of American youth.
In the same week, Friday, November 8th precisely, our own Abdelhaq Ait Boulhous and Oumhani Benhima along with program mentors Jade Lansing and Becca Farnum were invited to the American Language Center in Marrakech for a lively discussion, with nearly 15 young people, about climate change and climate action at COP22.
During this session, the team presented Dar Si Hmad projects, including the award-winning fog harvesting project as well as the Water School, and the Environmental Youth Ambassadors program, in addition to watching various self-produced videos.
The session was opportunity to ask participants on what does climate change means to them and facilitate a group activity which aimed to define climate change and find solutions to solve this problem, while sharing their different perspective and ideas with the team.