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, 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.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Summer Tech Camp 2019: Another Succesful Edition

Written by DSH intern, Ms. Salwa El Haouti
Additional to the multiple events Dar Si Hmad embraced during June of this year, the last week of the month has also witnessed the completion of the second edition of the Summer Tech Camp with satisfactory results. This educational program, which aimed at initiating underprivileged teenage girls to the digital world, also served girls with average prior knowledge on the use of the internet.
Although the main focus of this instructional program was the teaching of technology as its name indicates, the syllabi developed for the teenage beneficiaries comprised a number of other concerns all of which would certainly serve them on both the short term, as high school students, and the long term as active members in the job market and the society.
The first day of the camp was an opportunity for the beneficiaries to know one another and for the instructors to present an overall of the schedule of the week before inciting the girls to create their own classroom constitution. That session was also marked with the introduction to the technical jargon in relation to the computer, starting from the components of the hardware to the essential terminology that pertains to its software. The girls were also taught some ABC’s on surfing the web and were assigned some Web quests as a practice. Watching a Ted talk beforehand on the merits of being an IT girl and discussing it also contributed to maximizing the attention and interest of the Summer Tech Camp’s beneficiaries.

Day 2 was a continuation of the previous day’s lesson. This time, the girls were initiated to the web extensions and were offered examples on the ones they will most benefit from as young web browsers. Since all the girls are about to enter high school, it was necessary to show them how to use Google Docs and Google Slides. Above all, they were further instructed on how to detect real news and information from fake ones using internet tools, as they will be assigned to do divers researches from high school onward, all by giving the credit to the publisher of any content in order not to commit any plagiarism.
The third day of the summer tech camp started outdoors by visiting the local Amazighi museum of Agadir. This visit was an opportunity for the girls to learn and rectify many fallacious and erroneous ideas they once had on the Amazighi culture and history. The tour they had was intentionally planned to stimulate the girls’ curiosity on what one can learn in the museums and thus feel eager to visit more of them. Back in Dar Si Hmad, we guided them to websites where they could have a virtual 3D visit to internationally known museums such as the Louvre Museum in Paris. Having access to such content would definitely reinforce their overall historical and cultural knowledge, which will indeed benefit them throughout their lives. The afternoon of that session covered the right techniques of taking pictures and shooting a video, and also guided the girls to some editing platforms where they could modify and improve the quality of their pictures or make a short video film.
On the fourth day of the program, the girls demonstrated great interest and engagement with the course content. That day was consecrated to coding and Artificial Intelligence and had included many tasks for practice. The learners were then directed to some beginners’ coding websites, where they could learn and also practice the coding as they did inside the classroom. Each young girl by the end of the session has created an HTML web page, which comprised a head and a body where pictures and videos were also attached. In the last quarter of the day’s program, the focus was mainly put on the AI where the girls expressed clear astonishment at the level the technological field has reached.
The morning of day five was spent in the beach of Agadir. The girls had a blast playing competitive games with one another. They clearly needed a pause from the serious subjects they have tackled in class the previous days. The afternoon was also spared for them to make their own DIY projects where they gave vent to their creativity.

Similarly to the fourth day, the sixth one also evoked the engagement of the girls, but this time in deep discussion about themselves, how much do they know about their strengths and weaknesses and to what extent do they exploit their potential. The girls complained about the poor orientation they get in their schools about the educational prospects ahead of them, the organizing team of the camp also held a session of orientation where the girls’ questions and ambiguities were finally clarified. Moreover, scholarships’ opportunities for both high school and university students were also presented to the beneficiaries of the program, as they were also provided with tips on how to maximize their chances of getting one.
Day 7 was the last day of the camp and it was a chance for the girls to demonstrate what they had acquired throughout the week. The participants did a power point presentation on one of the various matters, which were treated during the program. The presentations were pretty inventive and originative as they tackled what they have learned from different perspectives.
Since this day marked the end of the camp, it, of course, included a number of fun activities before the participation certificates were given to the young beneficiaries. By all accounts, the week’s program described above is indeed a strong evidence on how successful the Summer Tech Camp of the year 2019 has been.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Capacity Building Program Closing Ceremony

Written by DSH fellow Katie Tyler
After eight months of lots of hard work, learning, relationship building, and fun, the Capacity Building Project has come to a conclusion!
This past Saturday we met with our participants and two of our trainers for the Capacity Building Closing Ceremony. Each pair of participants from the same NGO presented on their organization’s work to launch a new project based on the knowledge they have gained throughout the training workshops. Our participants have been hard at work during the past six weeks to turn their visions into concrete plans for change.
We were incredibly impressed by their innovative ideas as well as the amount they have learned over the course of the past eight months. The participants used tactics such as SWOT analyses, SMART goals, problem and solution trees, and GANTT charts to analyze their projects’ potential impacts and make thoughtful action plans. We expect to see great things from each participant in the coming months, as well as throughout the duration of their long and successful careers! 
After the participants finished sharing their plans for new projects, two of our trainers gave their feedback on the presentations as well as their final thoughts on the success of the training workshop series.  Our NGO president, Aissa Derham, and our Executive Director, Jamila Bargach, also gave concluding remarks on the work that went into developing this program. We celebrated our achievements with a delicious lunch prepared by our cooks Aatiqa and Hadda.
However, the impact of the Capacity Building Program does not end here! We have developed a Capacity Building Training manual in Darija that covers useful information for NGOs to develop their organizations. Each participant was given extra copies to distribute among interested leaders in development across southern Morocco. We also plan to make this manual available online to those who want to learn more about building their NGO’s capacity and maximizing their organization’s impact.
Although the program has officially ended, I hope that the participants will continue to maintain their relationships with each other and with Dar Si Hmad in order to support each other in their tireless work to support their communities. Since the goal of the Capacity Building Project was not merely to deliver instructions for change but rather to equip participants with the tools to improve themselves and those around them, participants will be able to continue to draw upon their knowledge to build NGOs’ capacity. Perhaps Dar Si Hmad will launch another Capacity Building Workshop, and these participants will lead their own initiatives to build other organizations’ capacities!