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.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ramadan mubarak and warm greetings from our team here at Dar Si Hmad!

May and June have been very busy months with the arrival of several groups of American university students who came to Agadir to work with Dar Si Hmad's Ethnographic Field School. We have hosted students, researchers and professors from University of Tampa, Georgetown University, University of Southern Florida, University of Colorado Boulder, and Seattle University. (Pictured below are students from the University of Tampa at the Madrasa Ben Youssef in Marrakech.)

While in Morocco, student groups studied Tashelhit and significant regional topics, including cultural and linguistic diversity in Morocco, the role of female cooperatives in the region, and – looking at Dar Si Hmad's Fog Project nets – the impact of water scarcity in Morocco. Georgetown Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Masters candidate Fatim-Zohra El Malki, reflects on her experience at Dar Si Hmad: 

"The intermingling of cultures has never been so vivid in my mind than during this past week I spent in Agadir. As a Moroccan myself, the program at Dar Si Hmad and experiencing life in this predominantly Amazigh city has opened new horizons. It also brought new perspectives to my attention, and pushed me to question issues deeply embedded in the social fabric of Moroccan society. Most importantly, it made me reconsider what it means to be Moroccan in this culturally and ethnically diverse country. From my own perspective, being Moroccan has long been linked to being Arab—a heritage of our nationalist rhetoric—that has marginalized the existence of other peoples, forcing them to conform to an identity that is not theirs… 

Talking to people and sharing our experiences of the country really opened my eyes to the very limited understanding I had of the country, one with a core—namely Rabat and Casablanca—and marginalized peripheries that barely know each other. In Agadir, I started wondering how people define themselves, and if being Moroccan came before being Berber. As I delve deeper into Agadir and get to know people more, these questions continue to grow in my mind and become something I would like to explore further."

In other news, Dar Si Hmad is happy to announce that we have been named as recipients of a US State Department Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) grant for the 2015-2016 grant year! We have received these funds in order to start a new professional development program for interested university students, technical school students, and young people in Agadir. We will offer workshops on subjects like computer literacy and resume building and featuring speaks from different professional backgrounds to act as mentors. Please like us on Facebook or talk to Dar Si Hmad staff at the next RISE event for more information!

This month, Dar Si Hmad has also received significant international press attention for the Fog Project in Aït Baamrane. France24 and Agence France Press’ articles, which discuss the logistics and benefits of Dar Si Hmad's fog nets has been translated into numerous languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, and English and picked up by over 40 media outlets around the world, including Le Monde, Yahoo News, and the Huffington Post! Click here for more information about the Fog Project!

We hope this post finds you thriving wherever you are in the world.

Meredith LaSalle-Taratin (Fulbright Scholar and Dar Si Hmad Volunteer) & 
Jade Lansing (Ethnographic Field School Manager)