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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Summer Water School: Studying, Learning and Having Fun!

Hello dear readers,

This summer we (Rebekah and Fatima) participated in the Water School that Dar Si Hmad organized in two rural areas right outside of Sidi Ifni. If you have not heard about the Water School before, this is a good opportunity for you to find out more about this project:

The Water School provides an opportunity for children living in the countryside to explore and learn about new topics related to water and the environment. The Water School is accomplished via various workshops, lessons, experiments, and games to achieve two of Dar Si Hmad’s top priorities simultaneously: learning and having fun!

The annual Water School was inaugurated last summer, and the activities took place at one school in the countryside. This year, Dar Si Hmad expanded its efforts and the Water School took place in two schools; one was Ezzahraoui primary school where we had 40 students and the other school was Jabal Akhdar primary school where we had 46 students. Our main objectives resided in teaching the two communities of Ait Baamrane about the science of water, the importance of water quality, and important hygienic practices related to water and sanitation (WASH).

Following the completion of the Water School this year, here are our personal reflections:

Fatima Gouali: Water School Teacher
BA in English Studies from Ibn Zohr University
Translating and Teaching Intern at Dar Si Hmad

The Water School experience was one of the best experiences I have been through. It was a mission that enabled me to challenge myself and, as a result, benefit greatly from the experience. I strongly believe that this year’s Water School was successful due to many factors, especially the great team I had the honor of working with. I can’t deny, I was nervous when we first started planning activities for the kids, but it was an overall incredible experience.

Water School students participate in an activity that
explores how germs work using glitter!
At first glance, I thought teaching kids about topics related to water was going to be easy for me since I have significant teaching experience, but the challenge for me resided in being responsible for entertaining the kids and organizing games for them. I never imagined finding myself being in that situation.

However, I convinced myself that I could do it no matter what and that I would do my best to make the sessions a compelling combination of learning and fun. In the first class, I explained the three states of matter after our warm up activity. I was smiling and the kids were interacting in a positive way. There was a moment when I looked over at Marouane (the Water School Supervisor) and he was smiling too! When I finished, Bekah told me «you’re doing fantastic». Their encouragements made me so comfortable about everything that was going on. The other classes also went well, and all of the work we did was very satisfying.

I am so glad we could make our plans and ideas for the Water School into a reality. The Water School helped mold me into a stronger and more confident teacher. I can proudly say that I did my best and I devoted a great deal of both my time and my energy for the Water School to take place. I challenged my fears and my lack of experience in coordinating games and entertainment for children, and I developed into a person that was able to make the water school a success!

Rebekah Daniel: Curriculum Coordinator
B.A. in Physics at Willamette University
Pursuing joint MS/PhD in Environmental Engineering at CU Boulder

Teaching children is an area that I am extremely passionate about. Sharing knowledge in a way that sparks curiosity, develops deep understanding and, in turn, provides personal empowerment for any individual is always a rewarding experience. Although I did not teach the Water School myself, taking part in the ‘behind the scenes’ curriculum and activities prep work was equally as rewarding.

Students and Dar Si Hmad staff on a sunny day in Mesti.
Developing detailed curriculum to be presented and taught in a language that I don’t speak proved itself to be a difficult task. Working off of the curriculum that Dar Si Hmad developed for the first year of the water school, it was my job to create activities, experiments, PowerPoint presentations, etc. for our wonderful teachers (Fatima and Latifa) to present to the class. The most important part of my job was to break things down into the excruciating, yet simply understood and most important details. The goal was to create the best experience for the kids on paper, relay that information to the teachers who were presenting the material to the children, and have as little information lost in translation as possible.

Watching the curriculum come to life in the children’s faces while they participated in the planned activities was an incredible experience. The success was only made possible by my wonderful teammates, Fatima, Latifa and Marouane, who taught the Water School in such an engaging and informative fashion. The enthusiasm and curiosity of both the teachers and the students in the classrooms were contagious; just one moment in their presence reminded me of how important and wonderful it is to invest in the children of the next generation.

The children were hungry for knowledge and having fun, and the Water School provided them with those exact opportunities. I am so excited to hear about the amazing adventures, successes, and newfound territory of the Water School in years to come. Over the next few years, as Dar Si Hmad expands the Water School into other rural schools with new curriculum topics in the STEM fields, I am positive that they will continue to make a significant and positive impact on the lives of the children involved in the Water School program.

Peace to you all,
Fatima and Rebekah