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, May 17, 2018

Unsung Hero # 11, Sara!

Interview with Sara Saba



Sara Saba in an American intern at Dar Si Hmad working with
the RISE Program and curriculum translation.
Interview conducted on 13 March 2018.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Sara Saba and I am 18 years old.

Where are you from?
I am from Tucson, Arizona in the United States.

How long will you be in Agadir?
I’ve been in Agadir for about two and a half weeks, and I will be
here for another four weeks.

Where do you currently go to school?
I am currently a senior [final year] at BASIS Tucson North High
School in Tucson.


What brought you to Agadir/ DSH?
My high school has an opportunity for seniors to pursue an independent
research project or internship during their final trimester of school. Most
students do their projects domestically, but I knew I wanted to do
something abroad if I could find the right opportunity. I knew that I
wouldn’t necessarily have this time again to pursue any type of project/
internship that I wanted, so I had to make the most of it. I heard about
Dar Si Hmad through a family member, and the organization caught my
interest because of its mission and values. The combination of environmental
work and giving back to the community [through programs like RISE and the
Oasis School] was very interesting and inspiring to me. I was drawn to Dar
Si Hmad as a result of its many approaches to provide different types of aid
to this community. Thankfully, it worked out so that I could travel abroad for
my final trimester and intern at a place I’m really interested in.

Describe your role at DSH.
I’ve been helping with the curriculum design and facilitation of the new RISE
program this semester with Georgia, Alex, Natalie, Maisie, Hafida and Ayman.
In addition, I’m going to be helping Soufian and Karima with translation of the
Oasis School curriculum from French into English. I am also pursuing an
independent project to understand the experiences of young people in Morocco
and the issues they face, which directly ties into this semester RISE. I’ll be
creating a video interview series to achieve this, and I hope to involve our
current RISErs.




What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
Dandara is definitely one of my favorite parts about coming into Dar
Si Hmad. She is so adorable, and I love it when she plays with me or
naps on my backpack while I’m working. It’s also been really exciting
to get to know all of the DSH staff and interns as well as all of the RISE
participants. I’ve really enjoyed all of these new experiences meeting
people who have grown up in a place so different from me and to see
so many similarities in regards to our ideas, passions, challenges and interests.


What are you hoping to achieve during your time here?
I would really like to work on understanding other people’s perspectives,
especially the RISE students’, and to learn more about my own perspectives
as an American. I hope to obtain a better sense of where people’s perspectives,
ideas and thoughts stem from as a result of the environment they’ve grown
up in.

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
Don’t discount organizations based on their size. Even though Dar Si Hmad
is such a small organization, they have made such a large impact with their
work, and they possess so much potential. The people and projects here
are truly impressive and inspiring.

















Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Unsung Hero #10, Ayman

Interview with Ayman Taleb

Ayman is a local intern here at Dar Si Hmad who is heavily involved in
the new semester of RISE this year. He plays a very important role as a
young Moroccan and RISE alumni himself in the curriculum design and
facilitation of the RISE sessions.





What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Ayman Taleb and I am 24 years old.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Agadir, but my parents are from Essaouira, and it feels
like a second home to me as well. .

Are you currently in school/ studying and if so where?
Last year I got my masters in Quality Safety and Environmental Management
specializing in food safety from FST (Faculty of Science and Technology) Beni Mellal
in Mohammedia

Describe your role at DSH/ how you became involved with DSH
I had always heard about Dar Si Hmad and their fog harvesting project
and was really interested by the work that they do. I began following them
on social media and coincidentally came across the advertisement for the RISE
program and application last semester with two days left to apply. I knew I had
to apply, so I did and was accepted. I’ve been in touch with Dar Si Hmad ever since.
Last semester, Maisie helped me out with another program that I was applying
for, and through that we shared our mutual interest and passion in social issues.
As a result, when I heard about the RISE session assistant position, I applied
immediately. I am now currently a RISE session assistant, so I help plan the
sessions, design the new curriculum for this semester and help facilitate the
sessions. The goal of my position is to make it easier for participants to share
personal experiences and help connect our American interns to understand
how these social issues are presented in Moroccan society.   

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
The staff and interns here are my favorite part about coming into Dar Si Hmad!
When I come here I feel like I have a purpose. There’s magnificent, positive
energy here. Everyone is so open minded, and I love how the office maintains
professionalism while also being open, engaging and supportive. There’s a big f
ocus on the relationships between everyone in the office. I feel like I am a part
of something big and special when I come into Dar Si Hmad.



What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
Everyone at Dar Si Hmad is so enthusiastic and genuine. There’s a shared
excitement for the work here, and your voice and opinions will always be
heard. There’s no hierarchy here. It’s very cooperative and collaborative, and
I love being apart of an office like this.


What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH thus far?
Some of the other interns and staff here at Dar Si Hmad did a mock interview for
me in preparation for a big interview I had coming up, and I have never felt so
much support as I did in that moment. I felt so capable of achieving anything I
set my mind to. They gave me some great advice and helped me believe in
myself and my skills. The support meant so much to me, and I’ll never forget
that experience.

What are you hoping to achieve during your time here?
I hope to help create a supportive and safe environment in RISE so everyone
feels free to express and share their personal experiences and stories. I would
also like to develop my professional skills through helping facilitate RISE
sessions and learn more about how NGOs are run.





Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Unsung Hero #9: Hafida!

Interview With Hafida Zoud

Hafida is a local intern here at Dar Si Hmad who is heavily involved
in the new semester of RISE this year. She plays a very important role
as a young Moroccan and RISE alumni herself in the curriculum
design and facilitation of the RISE sessions.




What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Hafida Zoud and I am 22 years old.


Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Agadir. My parents are from a small village
in the town Imintanout.


Are you currently in school/ studying and if so where?
In 2015 I received my bachelors degree in Food Technology from
FST (Faculty of Science and Technology) Beni Mellal in Mohammedia.
In 2017, I got my masters in Food Safety and Quality Management
from the same university.

Describe your role at DSH/ how you became involved with DSH.
I originally heard about Dar Si Hmad from one of my friends who was
an EYA (Environmental Youth Ambassador) and RISE alumni. She was
always talking about Dar Si Hmad, so I began following them on social
media and became very interested in the organization. This past fall, I finally
got to participate in the RISE program that focused on professional skills
and development. I loved it so much and knew I wanted to continue to be
involved with Dar Si Hmad. At the end of January and beginning of February
this year, I joined an EFS program to Sidi Ifni as a speaking partner where
we got to see the famous fog harvesting project, which was amazing! I am
currently a RISE session assistant for this new semester. I help plan and
design the lessons and facilitate the sessions. My position is important
because I help provide a Moroccan perspective while designing this new
curriculum with the other RISE assistants, who are American. This way we
have both Moroccan and American perspectives incorporated into these
global social issues that we’re discussing in RISE. The goal of my position
is also to help the RISErs feel more comfortable and open to sharing if they
feel more hesitant to do so.  



What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
My favorite part about coming into Dar Si Hmad is the discussions
we have in the RISE planning sessions as well as the actual sessions
with the participants. I love being with you guys and exchanging our
opinions and perspectives. I’ve learned a lot from all of the other interns
and staff here at Dar Si Hmad, both Moroccan and American. I’ve improved
my professional skills and learned how to manage professionalism
and fun in the same environment.


What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
There are a lot of organizations here that are simply for show, but I want
everyone to know that Dar Si Hmad is a very legitimate NGO that is
passionate about real issues in our community and is making a significant
impact. The Dar Si Hmad team and projects are professional, versatile,
competent and concrete.



What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH thus far?
The EFS program to Sidi Ifni this past January/ February has been my
most memorable experience with Dar Si Hmad so far. I had heard about
Dar Si Hmad’s famous fog project for a really long time, but I never truly
understood how it worked or the impact it had on the surrounding community
until this trip. I loved getting to meet the exchange students that came with
us and to hear about all of their experiences in Morocco, passions and ideas.
It was also really great to see how interested and dedicated they were to
learning Arabic. When I came back from this trip, I couldn’t stop talking
about this project and telling people about it.


What are you hoping to achieve during your time here?
I hope to improve my English speaking, develop my teaching and practice
my public speaking skills during my time as a RISE session assistant.
I would also like to become more open, make new connections and network
with people that I can collaborate with in the future.






Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Unsung Heroes Interview #8: Fatiha!

Interview with Fatiha Tachakourt


Fatiha Tachakourt is a part- time employee at Dar Si Hmad,
the Water/ Oasis School teacher in Sidi Ifni, and a language teacher at the office.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Fatiha Tachakourt and I am 26 years old.

Where are you from?
I am from Agadir, Morocco. My family is from Agadir as well,
so I’ve lived here my whole life.

Where did you graduate from and with what degree?
I attended Ibon Zohr University where I studied to get my Masters Degree
in Journalism and Media Diversity.

What brought you to Dar Si Hmad?
I’ve been with Dar Si Hmad for 3 years now. I actually got the job
working here through a friend of mine who knows the office manager.
She told me that Dar Si Hmad was looking for a woman who spoke
English and had the patience to work with small children. At the time,
I was looking for a social work position, and children and education
are two passions of mine so this opportunity seemed perfect. My friend
sent in my CV, I got an interview and soon after I became a part of the
Dar Si Hmad team.

Describe your role at Dar Si Hmad
My main role at Dar Si Hmad is to teach at the Water/ Oasis School
for children in the villages near Sidi Ifni. I’ve taught two editions of the
Water School and the first edition of the Oasis School. I also provide
language lessons in Darija and Tashlheet for Dar Si Hmad interns,
EFS students and other students in Agadir wanting to learn Tashlheet.
Originally, I came to work at Dar Si Hmad just for the Water School,
but I began teaching these lessons as well because of my education and language skills.

What is your favorite part about coming to Dar Si Hmad?
My favorite part about teaching with the Water/ Oasis School
is definitely the kids. They are a form of therapy for me. I have a special
connection with all of them that motivates me to continue searching and
giving them my best with the rest of the Oasis School team. I feel like they
are my own children; I call them my kids. Before every session, I think about
the theme/ goal of the lesson and how I can best transmit that message to
these eager and wonderful children.

My favorite part about coming into the office is the team; they feel like family
to me. Everyone is so friendly and I can be myself with everyone. People
are always smiling and greeting you as you come in the door of Dar Si Hmad.
And Dandara of course; I don’t really have a good relationship with cats,
but she is fun and brings a new persona to the office.

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about Dar Si Hmad?
I would like everyone to know that Dar Si Hmad offers an opportunity
to learn many things that you’ve never learned before in school and gain
insight into things you were never previously aware of. It’s a place where
you can share and build on your skills with a truly wonderful team.

What is one of your most memorable moments at Dar Si Hmad?
There are always memorable moments with the Water School, but
one time, we planted a tree near the school and the children decided to
name it Fatiha. Even though the tree died, it was still very special to me.
The kids were blaming each other as to why the tree died, and it turned into
a good laugh.
Everytime a Water or Oasis School session ends and we have to say goodbye,
there are always lots of tears and hugs from both the students and the team.
It’s very meaningful and emotional. Those moments always leave an impression on me.