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, September 13, 2019

From The Logbook of Mounir Abbar, Fog-Harvesting Manager: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories

Entry, 23rd March 2017 – Village Toufitri Connection

All the village residents were out, finally the last steps to fully installing and connecting their houses to the water were to be completed within few hours. They had bought and brought the meters as per our agreement. They have been more than patients, it has taken us years to come to this point. From getting all the necessary clearance, securing all the funds, but especially from getting all the heavy machinery to work in such a harsh environment. Hard rocks, rough mountain sides, are a nightmare for digging. It has taken us more than 3 months to complete the entire process  of preparing the passage for the pipes, laying the pipes, covering them and having them connected. The distance is a simple 3000 linear meters.
Each day comes with the promise that this will be completed, but something unexpected happens, the machine breaks down, the imponderables of working with equipment that is old in a very demanding environment. A missing piece or tool that halts the work and we have to take a long trip to town to see if we find it, by the time we return, the workers have left. Actually, this worker leaving for good was a positive step, he was sarcastic all the time and still doubting that there was any fog-water to be collected. Incredulous, he refused to believe that this was actually happening and that the water had transformed the lives of the communities with access to it.  That he was replaced by a family-member of one of the beneficiary-villages, was in itself a success; this man brought force and commitment to his work.
So this last village, everyone is out and they are witnessing just the last step, like the cutting of a ribbon to celebrate the promise of something new.  One of the residents and his family were, however, not among the celebrating group; their house was at the farthest point of the village and they were, in all effect, marginalized because they were considered to be the poorest of the village. The father being blind, the two daughters and an aging mother fared however much they could in these dire conditions. While the rest of the village was ready to welcome flowing water after they had installed their newly bought meters, this family had no meter and no way of purchasing one. They were occupying all the margins of this village. I could not stand such injustice and that they did not share the joy of welcoming finally water in their household as the rest did. This situation warrants to take different decisions and while respecting the agreements between the NGO and the Beneficiaries, this time I myself stopped the work, and left to town. I bought a new meter and came back the next day to launch the work from the house of the poor, blind man… From being at the margin, he became for me, the dignified starting and initial point, the one from where we begin the counting. And this story continues to inform my work and my commitment to working and being morally responsible for one’s actions. It is not about finishing a day’s work, but it is about changing in a positive way the life of another person.  

Friday, September 6, 2019

From the Logbook: "a new blog series" said our Executive Director




We receive feedback on our blog series, this is what has kept us going for the last 5 years of blogging, and we are often in search for original pieces and new thresholds to think about and reflect upon the work we do in our organization. Just for the last two years, we had the “Unsung Heroes,” we had “Learning across the Continents” and for this entry we have decided to launch a new series we have decided to call “From the Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Story." We are a small organization and each one of us often wears multiple hats and do overlapping tasks to plan an event, to organize a program, to file documents, to meet visitors, or to search for funding. Through the last ten years, we have had many employees come and then leave for other opportunities, but there is a core that has stayed, witnessed and fashioned the many transitions within the organization.  As the ED I’ve asked them to write a piece based from the logbook of their working lives within Dar Si Hmad. The object being to connect our readers to what goes behind the scene and to hear the experiences and voices of the members of this team that create, make and sustain the magic.

Jamila Bargach, Executive Director
Dar Si Hmad 



Friday, August 9, 2019

Discovering the Moroccan Language Varieties

Written by Lahcen Lqoul
Lahcen Lqoul is the teacher of (Tashlhet) Tamazight, Darija and Standard Arabic in Dar Si Hmad's CELAR program.

     I am an educator, translator and language and cross-culture facilitator. I have a Master’s degree in Comparative Studies in Literature. I teach undergraduate courses at the university of Arts and Languages, Ait Mloul (the larger Agadir Region). I also worked with the Peace Corps as a language and cross-culture facilitator, teaching Darija and introducing volunteers to Moroccan culture. I am currently occupying the same position at Dar Si Hmad, an NGO based in Sidi Ifni with an annex in Agadir.
    My teaching experience with Dar Si Hmad started in 2018. When I was given the opportunity to collaborate with DSH, I considered it as a means to develop several inter/intrapersonal skills in terms of communication, cultural exchange and professionalism. At the end, what I achieved has, surprisingly, exceeded all my expectations.
    First, I started teaching classes in darija (Moroccan Arabic). Then I taught (Tashlhet) Tamazight. After that I taught Standard Arabic. To be able to manage and maintain teaching these three languages, DSH developed a language program called CELAR. This program offers courses in the mentioned languages. In order to learn the language in a relatively short period of time, these courses are most of the time intensive, 6 to 10 hours a week. DSH made this teaching and learning process more convenient. They provided me with a suitable working environment and the needed teaching materials, such as textbooks, equipment and so much care.
      During the period in which I have been working for DSH, I met and taught many interesting students from all over the US. There were Fulbright researchers in different fields of research, English teaching assistant, students in internship in DSH and some of DSH staff. Due to various interests in learning these languages, I taught these three languages for different purposes: for general communication in everyday life like shopping, transportation and so on; for research like writing and translating questionnaires and interviews with or for local people in their communities. In these courses, there are students who started knowing one word and ended up in an intermediate level; there are others who brushed up on one of the languages I mentioned and moved to an upper level. I also taught groups of students from other universities and organizations who came to learn about Moroccan culture and language. I taught students from (WGEI) Women's Global Empowerment Initiative, students from Quinnipiac University and students from Lewis and Clark University. These students showed great interest in learning the languages we use in Morocco and to learn about Moroccan culture in general. And that motivated me a lot to do my best and for me to learn more about my multiple cultures.
     Working with DSH gave me the chance to develop and sharpen my teaching, social, and personal skills. They also helped me to discover other personal and professional teaching skills. For me, Dar Si Hmad is a cross-cultural zone where different cultures meet and deep exchange happens. I met different people from different countries and different backgrounds; people from Morocco, US, Ghana, and Tunisia. Working with these people was fun. It was a fruitful and a professional and resourceful experience.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Learning Across continents: Studying in Morocco

Written By: Isaac Bimpong N. 
Isaac Bimpong N. is a 4th year Ghanaian student in Morocco at the National School of Management and Commerce (ENCG) of Ibn Zohr University in Agadir. He’s currently an intern at DSH working in the accounting and book-keeping department.

In high school, I always saw myself at the Cape Coast University reading some business-related programme with a few of my close mates. But I guess that scenario of the future I saw or imagined was false. Or maybe, it could only happen in a different dimension in the multiverse—only if there’s such a thing. In January 2016, I was sitting in a French class in Rabat with other students (some from Ghana and the rest from other non-French speaking countries on the continent). 
I was buzzing when I learnt around the last quarter of 2015 that my application for a scholarship had been accepted to study in the Kingdom of Morocco as an undergraduate student. With excitement, I began preparations and in mid-December, we [a group of students] were in Morocco. Within a six months period, we took French classes to equip ourselves for school given that, all courses in Moroccan public universities are taught in French except specific language subjects like Arabic, English, Spanish, etc which are done in the said language. And in October 2016, I became a student of ENCG-Agadir [National School of Management and Commerce in Agadir].
When embarking on this journey, I knew so little about Morocco. Except it was a different nation. And I confirm that is right so. A people different from my own, a land, unlike mine. An unknown culture, different languages spoken. It was overwhelming. But again, it presented the opportunity of meeting new people and learning new things. A chance to broaden my horizon and enlarge my social network through friendships and relationships, and the benefits of all these can hardly be overstated. 
Isaa in ENCG Business School
The ride has quite been amazing with all honesty. It’s been a couple of years here, and I have grown fond of the land and its inhabitants. Given my minimal knowledge about Morocco upon my arrival, it made it easy to learn once I touched here. From school to the outside community and neighbourhoods, interactions with friends and colleagues and with strangers alike. The F’tour during Ramadan with both local and other international friends at the beach and music and dance afterwards where I’m always chanted to do some “African” dance are cherished moments—forever in my heart. The conflict of interest where some of my mates in school want to improve their English and me, my French always leaves us with uncontrollable laughter.
As black as I am, I have never been confused for anything than a sub-Saharan African—which I am. [Except once, when a lad about my age mistook me for an American around the Marina in Agadir—kind of odd]. But for my actual nationality, people firstly assume I’m from Senegal or Côte d’Ivoire or Guinea or some other French-speaking country in the region. After several attempts, I usually burst out amid laughter that I’m from Ghana [as I try to always pronounce Ghana in Arabic with my funny accent even though most of my conversations do happen in French especially with strangers—vendors, taxi drivers, and random people around.]. Once my nationality is made known, the other person, mostly male, would usually [with a smile] shout “Abedi Pele!” or “Asamoah Gyan!” in attempt to show they know some Ghanaian football stars, which makes me proud, always. Or it may be “Accra!”—the capital.
Isaac in Safi
I have only been to a few cities and regions in the Kingdom and the city Safi is by far, my favourite. With its cultural and modern appearance entangled with immense serenity and calmness, running up the mountains and down the valleys, I fall deeper in love with every trip. Regardless of my love for Safi, Agadir has my heart. My second home. Likewise, with mountains edging its frontiers, I’m reminded every time I look up to them about the potential I can still reach. With a stare down the valleys, I’m reminded of how far I have come. This makes my heart grateful.
I have, again, grown fond of Dar Si Hmad and all they do and stand for. Frankly, it’s been a month and a half, but I have learned a lot seeing the passion in the eyes of the team and their eagerness to work to achieve greatness with respect to their various projects and individually assigned task. My short time in Dar Si Hmad has taught me quite a lot, both professionally and personally beyond what I learn within the four walls of my school’s classrooms or auditoriums as I work as an intern under Mr. Abdellah El Moutaouif in the accounting and bookkeeping department. From financial record-keeping to making of bank reconciliation statements, from formal relations to informal conversations. The work environment has and is favourably amazing. 
In a few days, my time here at DSH will be over, which is a bit sad but then again, I trip Safi in a week or two afterwards, so you can imagine the feeling is rather bittersweet!
Isaac in Dar Si Hmad




I am particularly thankful for the people I met here in DSH. Mr. Abdellah El Moutaouif who supervised me as an intern, and for the many things he has selflessly and carefully taught me in my field of studies. Also, many thanks to Hafida and Tasnim who recently left, Khadija, Salwa, Soufian for the warm welcome gestures and chats from time to time. Likewise, it was great to have met interns like Walid, Katherine –who are gone by the way. Above all, I want to thank Dr. Jamila Bargach for this opportunity and the entire DSH staff.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Learning Across Continents: Climate Change policy, Coffee and Crepes for summer 2019

Written by Jayme Beaseley
Jayme is a second year PhD student in the department of Political Science at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. She is affiliated with Dar Si Hmad through Women Global Empowerment Initiative and this is her second year working with both organizations as a graduate student.  
When I was asked to return to Morocco on behalf of Women’s Global Empowerment Initiative (WGEI) this summer I was elated. I had the pleasure of serving as a student mentor for the women who attended WGEI and Dar Si Hmad’s program last year. The experience was life changing in that I was able to learn about the Moroccan culture, society and politics. My role last year also enabled me to make lasting connections with WGEI members and Dar Si Hmad staff and participants.
My role this year was a little different. I came back to beautiful Morocco to explore the socio-political dynamics surrounding water distribution. As a second year doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta Georgia, my experience last year has narrowed my research interest toward issues in political ecology. This summer during my time at Dar Si Hmad, I’ve spent the last 5 weeks searching and reading articles to gain a better understanding of the ways in which the Moroccan government, Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and private entities work in tandem to manage and distribute water to Moroccan citizens. My hopes are to continue this research for my dissertation.
It wasn’t all work while I was here this time, Kenia and I visited one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world- Marrakech. This trip was nothing short of exciting. We were able to experience a night in a traditional riad in the heart of the Médina. We visited Jardin Majorelle. Restored by French designer Yves-Saint-Laurent, the garden was filled with vibrant hues and exotic plants from around the world. We next visited the Bahia Palace which was built in the 19th century and considered one of Morocco’s most visited attractions. The palace had intricate colors and patterns spread offer 2 acres of land. It was filled with mini gardens and secret rooms. Lastly, we walked around the Koutoubia Mosque located in the southwest of the Médina. It is the largest mosque in Marrakech. It is decorated with large intricately curved windows that allow for ample sunlight to shine inside. We also bought street food and got lost in the labyrinth of souks that were filled with raw leather bags, precious metals and stunning hand made shoes. Our time in Marrakech was short but very worth it.
My time here in Morocco this summer has made me realize that there is so much more to learn in the world that has to be experienced outside of a formal setting. We learn the real lessons interacting with different people from different cultures and beliefs. This experience makes us grow and become better people. Although I came here for academic reasons, I feel like I will leave with a better understanding of why it is important to continue to work on being a world citizen. My summer here in Morocco and working with Dar Si Hmad has made me more confident in my research abilities and sharpened my analytical skills. I am so thankful for this opportunity. Thank you to Dar Si Hmad and WGEI! 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Learning Across Continents: Reflections on a moroccan summer

Written by the EFS Student Kenia Hale
 Kenia Hale is an American student from Yale University who participated in WEGI’s 3 week intensive on race, gender an environmental studies. Kenia is receiving assistance on her academic research from DSH staff and has been taking daily intensive Darija lessons in the organization.

When I arrived in Morocco 5 weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew Morocco was on the African continent, and had taken 1.5 years of modern standard Arabic, but I knew nothing about the culture or history of the place. In my time with Dar Si Hmad and the Women’s Global Empowerment Initiative (WEGI) I’ve learned so much more about the world, and have learned more about myself in the process.

In my first three weeks here, I participated in an intensive program where we learned about race, gender, social justice, and environmental justice in Morocco directed by Dar Si Hmad. Each day comprised of a Darija (Moroccan Arabic) lesson, a class on a specific subject, and daily excursions that provided context for the issues we discussed in the classroom. We learned about Amazigh history, Sub-Saharan Migration in Morocco, Gnawa culture, and much more! In just three weeks I found myself rethinking my perceptions of race, gender, and culture in my daily life.
As a dark skinned Black woman, my race and gender color defined my experiences at home and abroad. Morocco is, as described by our program coordinator, an incredibly “plural” place, and we are constantly surrounded by people of every color. My friends and I were told that any of us could pass as Moroccan, which I understand to be true when looking around the market, the beach, etc. This being the case though, it was often our lighter-skinned group members that are told that they “look Moroccan” by shop owners and others we interact with. I’ve been asked if I’m from Jamaica, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, and many other sub-Saharan countries, and have been told that I “look too black to be American.” These experiences have complicated my understandings of “Blackness” at home and abroad, and challenged many of my preconceptions of who can be considered “African.”
Kenia and her fellows taking the lessons directed by Dar Si Hmad
Morocco is so beautiful, and I’ve experienced so many different parts of it in my time here. In Marrakesh, I got to visit the bustling medina, shop in the huge souks, and visit popular landmarks like Jemaa el-fnaa, Jardin Marjorelle, and Bahia Palace. In Sidi Ifni, we relaxed in our town house and got to visit Dar Si Hmad’s fog project, which is definitely a sight to see. That day in particular it was really cloudy and misty, and it was really cool to see the fog nets in action! We traveled to Aourir where I saw the biggest waves and bluest ocean I’d ever seen in my life. We visited a women-led Argan Collective, where we learned about the argan business and tried cracking Argan nuts. I’ve spent most of my time in lovely Agadir, a city on the South coast of the country, where I’ve been living with my incredibly kind and welcoming host family. They’ve provided me a home away from home, and my host mom makes the best avocado smoothies I’ve ever had!
In Dar Si Hmad's fog proect Site

I’ll be here for a total of 8-weeks, and have been doing my own independent research on development and technology with the help of Dr.Bargach and the DHS staff, alongside a PhD candidate working on research for her dissertation. I’ve also been continuing my daily intensive Darija lessons, and I can feel myself learning so much every day. I can now successfully hail a taxi, ask about prices in the Souk, order food at a restaurant or ask my host mom to take us to the beach. I know colors, numbers, how to tell time and ask directions, and much more. The constant immersion in the language is helping me pick up the language so much more quickly than I did at school!
This experience has both helped me realize how much I already know and how much I have left to learn about the world and myself. I’ve met lifelong friends and can feel myself growing into a more worldly person every day. I’m incredibly inspired by the people I meet and the work that DHS is doing in the community, and I’m so glad I took this leap and traveled this summer!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Learning Across Continents: Learning across one continent


Written by DSH intern Walid Zarrad:

Walid Zarrad is a Tunisian intern in Dar Si Hmad who has demonstrated strong organizational skills in managing the organization's inventory, both in Agadir and in Sidi Ifni, during his stay in Morocco.


While traveling to a new culture, you learn something new every second. It might sound cliché but from the moment you arrive, lessons start flooding in; and these lessons include everything from culture studies to linguistics.
As a Tunisian, I thought traveling to a country as close as Morocco would mean avoiding the culture school. I quickly understood that instead of learning new things, I would be learning new things and comparing them to what I’m familiar with. In other words, the subtle yet omnipresent differences turned my trip into a game of “let’s find out how, why, and to what extend this is different!” And I loved it.
During my month in Agadir, I learned to turn into a sponge whenever I entered a drugstore or café. Hell, even walking down the street I wanted to grasp as much information as possible. What I used to believe was extra mental labor turned into a hobby.
And what better place to practice this hobby than Dar Si Hmad? I walk in and see hard-working, friendly, and diverse staff members mixing their different backgrounds to come up with outstanding projects. I walk in and meet student researches who are happy to teach me and learn from me. I walk in and learn how to use the anthropology that fascinates me to help communities in need.


This trip confirmed to me that every culture is an iceberg with a small part the world sees and a huge part you have to dive in the waters to find out about. And nothing is more fun and challenging than diving in head first. If you’re lucky enough, the swim will turn into a thousand questions. I was constantly thinking about all the factors that could have influenced a specific difference between Moroccans and Tunisians: is it the different decolonization processes? Is it the different approaches to arabization and westernization? Or is it just different geographies?


























I am writing this from the top of Mount Boutmezguida, next to Dar Si Hmad’s Cloudfishers. Although I‘m 1225 culture meters high, I can see that higher mountains are ahead of me. I can’t wait.