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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Closing of a Cycle


For these past three months, we have invited our readers and followers to meet and know of the personal experiences of the current Dar Si Hmad staff. Each person spoke of how their day is composed, what their challenges are and how they manage these challenges. As the co-founder of Dar Si Hmad and its director, I feel privileged to work with all these individuals and I especially treasure the fact we embody the spirit of civil society at its best. We believe in our mission of helping vulnerable communities learn and prosper; that is we are the bridge for the communities we service, from the villages in the Ait Baâmrane, the high-schoolers of Agadir or the University students, to gain from possibilities of growth that may not be easily accessible to them otherwise. As we prepare for our 10th anniversary in April 2020, we tally how many lives we have positively impacted and we feel proud, happy and yet humble. Humble because we have been trusted by these people who opened their lives and hearts for us. Happy and proud because the good work we have delivered has had a return. Students, volunteers, interns, community members all have given us the immense pleasure of infusing life and spirit into Dar Si Hmad mission. As we prepare for our next blog-series and for our continuing community-engagement, this is to the team of Dar Si Hmad and to everyone to have worked, learned, and supported our activities.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

From the Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories/ Hussein Soussan and Abderahman Nassiri, Respectively: Fog-Water Manager-Assistant, Driver and Technical Maintenance


 Both Abderahman and Hussein joined the organization in 2011, when we first started the initial building of the fog-collection project. We had a conversation this past 2019 spring during our annual retreat.  This is an abridged section from this exchange: 

 Abderahman Nassiri, Driver and Technical maintenance
Abderahman:  Some of the hardest moments of the fog collection project was in the beginning in July 2011 when we had to take up the building material to the top of the mountain. It was hot, the road extremely difficult and we were still discovering how to do the work
Hussein: Yes, it is true… it was a record year of heat and the work was very physically demanding. We also needed to get the truck on top of the mountain and remember how we simply could not do that because it was simply impossible
Abderahman:  Yes, I remember and how we ended up having to take down all the long steel pillars out of the truck and try to do that by walking to soon discover we really could not do that either; extremely heavy, hot and hard… and finally we had to ask for the donkeys from the villages to let us use them but they insisted that they have to be with their own donkeys for one, and second, most of the international volunteers disliked the idea
Hussein Soussan, Fog-Water Manager-Assisstant
Hussein:  It was very hard at this time, but we did succeed after a week of non-stop work to deliver all the material to the mountain and it is only after that we started building.  That too was difficult, the rocks were too hard to break and we could not make the necessary holes for the anchors. One time, the contractor said he wanted to use dynamite and the managing team refused. We were, though, able after a lot of physical work to finish the holes. 
Abderahman:  Each one of the program that we host at Dar Si Hmad comes with its set of challenges, but what is important is that we always talk and find the solution as a team.
Hussein:  I’ve worked in many places before joining Dar Si Hmad and this is what I always like and treasure in this experience: the ability to problem-solve together, for all of us to come together and consider what the best solution to a given problem is and then work towards adopting the solution. 


Monday, November 4, 2019

First month on the job: Juggling Moving-In and Starting Work

Written by Perry Demarche


Since I joined the Dar Si Hmad team one month ago, things have been hectic! In addition to moving to a new country, I have had to adjust to a completely new job. Through all this chaos, however, everyone in the office has been incredibly welcoming and helpful in teaching me the ropes.

When I first arrived in Agadir, I had to find an apartment, move-in, unpack, learn where to buy groceries and apartment necessities, meet my new neighbours and make new friends, explore a new city, and finish all the onboarding processes for work. So many colleagues helped make this a smooth transition for me by driving me to look at apartments, helping me acclimate to the office, teaching me about Dar Si Hmad, showing me around the city, and sharing delicious food with me.


I have also hit the ground running with work. Within my first few weeks, I have learned how to use all Dar Si Hmad’s internal software, created English content for various projects and our website, made all new flyers and forms for our programs, found new language students and teachers, worked with potential researchers, reviewed program materials and academic research, met our partners, applied to conferences, taken 10 hours of Darija lessons… and so much more! Work is always busy, but I have been loving every second. 

Balancing moving to a new country and starting a new job is a challenge, but everyone at the Dar Si Hmad office has been extremely welcoming and kind. We’ve already had quite a bit of fun as well, including eating welcome couscous, celebrating a birthday for one of our language students, and enjoying some Halloween treats. I can’t wait to see what the next few months bring!


Monday, October 28, 2019

From the Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories, Mohammad Hamou-Ali, Fog-Water Project Assistant

Free interpretation based on Mohammad’s interview

In December 2018, I received a frantic phone call from Timtda village that water was leaking from a buried pipe.  I quickly made it to the house in question and, indeed, the entry to the house was getting muddier because the buried pipe seems to be leaking.  The grandfather comes out of the house in a state of panic and seemingly quite distraught saying that “my grandson was playing here and cut off the pipe”.  This seemed odd, how can a 7 year old, even playing rough reach a pipe buried at 60 cm deep?  What did he play with to cause such a damage?  This story somehow was unlikely but given the venerable age of this man, I could not ask any further and I had to fix the water leak as this affects water availability to the remaining households.

As I was digging, the grandfather went inside to make tea.  The child stayed behind and I started asking him about the game he was playing, at which he whispered how it was his grandfather who broke the pipe when trying to install bricks at the entrance of the house. The grandfather was apparently extremely worried that he would be the cause for water shortage in the entire village. It seemed much more befitting to say it was the doing of a child, that is someone with no maturity, not knowing there are consequences to actions and thus can be easily pardoned. That it was an accident did not seem to make sense to the grandfather who thought that just because he caused the leak, he was responsible and may have not only to pay extra-money for the water, but may have to face his fellow-villagers.  Understanding this, I continued working and fixed the leak, I also went in and had tea but never told the grandfather I knew. What was more important is that no water would continue to leak and that, the grandfather and I shared profoundly, no water-waste because we both know how valuable such a substance is. 
Some Playing time after a very hard day of work on the Fog-Water Project

Saturday, October 19, 2019

From the Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories, Hadda Bouzouguarh, Chef and Hospitality Manger

The Hardest is Always Bread Allergies

Free adaptation based on interview with Chef Hadda

There is a large repertoire of Moroccan cuisine that I have grown up eating and that I have learned how to cook, but I can never tell you when exactly. I have always been around food, raw, cooked, in the souks and in the pantry, I love food and I love preparing it and sharing it.  I have been the Chef at DSH for the last 3 years and my role is to prepare hearty and authentic Moroccan food to our students and visitors. The tajines of fish from the shores of Sidi Ifni, or the tajines of goat meat with quince, or free range chicken with pickled olives and lemon, or a steaming bowl of beans (lubia), or yet again the skewers of sausages  and zucchini with a side of tomatoes with parsley grilled in the oven are all dishes that are eaten with Bread. For us, bread is the major food-staple, we eat bread accompanied with broth, to translate it literary it is “we ingest bread,” /kanduwzu l-khubz/. Breads are the major staple to us, for breakfast from Rghayef, msemen, beghrir or harsha (all bread types), to Aghrum afornu dripping with Argan oil, to the chfenj of the afternoon (fried bread) dipped in honey, bread is always present, always essential and always necessary, at times it is the only thing that can really fill the hunger, isn’t that otherwise called soul-food?  

So you can imagine my concern when we hosts students who cannot eat bread, not as a matter of choice because it is fattening, but because of increasing instances of gluten intolerance, at times very serious.  I am concerned because I feel they cannot have a full culinary experience of what eating “like a Moroccan” means, I feel concerned because the alternative choices are really limited, and because I worry that such an allergy not be always comprehended by a range of people when they move from our center at DSH. I don’t have a solution, but I have learned to be creative with barley, with maize and with rice-flour that is now available. I take it as my mission to give priority to these students so they still have an exciting culinary experience despite this major limitation. The administration encourages me to be creative and adventurous. At times, I have to compromise the ‘authenticity’ of a recipe if one is to reference the dishes to the traditional recipes handed down generations ago, but I also have to think about the health and safety of the student and the guest. This is my priority and my mission at work is to strive to reach this balance despite constraints. I am always so happy and excited when on their last day the students come, hug me and say a deep-heart thank you; that day I myself don’t eat bread as my soul is in heaven!  



Monday, October 14, 2019

From the Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories/ Abdallah El Moutaouif, Accountig and Finance Manager

Life Cycles : Bidding Goodbye, Saying Hello

I have joined DSH in mid 2013, I am what one might call a “fixture” of the organization, there is certainly some humor in being identified as such and I welcome it. Through the years I had to learn to adjusting to living with the life cycles of the organization which can be very taxing emotionally and procedurally. Allow me to explain: the organization welcomes young people with no prior experience and so for us, the core of the DSH administration, we have to spend fair amount of time training the new comers and getting to know them as people. Then following a year or maximum two, a life-cycle, they are looking forward to discovering other worlds. 

Saying goodbye for me is always a painful process; I’ve just gotten used to working with the person, used to having a new support and friend, used to navigating the cultural differences (as often we have different nationalities in our staff and volunteers), and then the time is up for them to leave. And once this happens, the work-load these people used to do, gets re-distributed among us the core of DSH-Administration. There is a strong solidarity among us at the core, and as we adjust to seeing our old colleagues leave and manage our work-load, we look forward to hosting new blood, to saying hello to newcomers. 

There is also an opportunity for us in that as we do each other’s job, we become versatile and can wear any hat in the organization, this is a very strong point. Yet, we are all so much aware of the risk that such turnover can have on the long term for the organization, but we also like to think there is so much positive outcome in this.  We welcome new, enthusiastic, and often very passionate new staff. Surely, and as said before, there yet again the need for time to adjusting, to teaching and to connecting to the new person, but it is largely a positive experience as the youth keep the edge on the work we do as we proudly serve vulnerable communities learn and prosper.

Friday, October 4, 2019

From the Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories/ Khadija Changa, Human Ressources Manager

Breaking and leaving the shell 

Since I joined Dar Si Hmad in 2016, my job has always been behind the scenes. I love numbers as I am responsible for the balance sheets of the association; I control the inventory and the fixed assets; and I prepare contracts for my colleagues, partners, or the few consultants. I make sure that Dar Si Hmad’s legal and fiduciary standing are always impeccable and up to date.  Without these documents that indicate that the organization is in good health, that it functions according to the legal standards of Morocco, it can neither seek external funding nor be a steward for the community we service. 

   
Khadija and her colleagues from DSH doing field work in the north of Morocco
But the organization is small, we fluctuate between 7 to 11 employees (depending on the projects we run), and we all have to participate in events even when that is not our specialty. My director proposed me for such public event, speaking about the fog-collection project, to a wide public in Warzazate, a town in Southeast Morocco.  My initial response was to refuse because I felt I could not face up the crowd, that I would lose my voice, that I would never be able to find the right words to respond, …. etc and the list of the doubting, destructive voice is just too long! Everyone in the office at Agadir or travelling from Sidi Ifni sat with me, and each one encouraged me, gave me words of comfort and told me how much they trusted me. I prepared a presentation with numbers, pictures, statistics about the project and rehearsed the presentation in front of everyone. Encouragements and suggestions came from all parts and I left for Warzazate in new garb of self-confidence. 

The day of the presentation, I listened to the speakers before me and then my name was called. I walked to the podium and clicked on the presentation, but to my surprise, the system refused to work even though we had set it before. My heart was pounding and I broke up in a cold sweat, terrified about what to do next. Then I closed my eyes for a moment and remembered the faces of my colleague back in Agadir as they listened to me during the rehearsal. I opened my mouth and the entire presentation came up, with no visuals to aid. Little did I know the technician had fixed the problem and the images were streaming behind my back. I talked and talked, I had broken out and left my shell. I still love the work with numbers, contracts, and colleagues that I am doing, but I also know that I can participate in other venues when and if necessary. DSH works with and services the communities, but we the staff all work together and learn from each other, it has been almost 4 years that I am here and I continue thriving in my work. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

From the Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories/ Soufian Aaraichi, Project Manager

Within and beyond languages

An intercultural team can be of great advantage when it comes to solving complex problems, as different points of view are coming together. At the same time, cultural diversity comes along with some challenges. We often underestimate the cultural implications to achieve such cooperation.
 
Working with an anthropologist and my first female director, always motivated to recruit collaborators of different cultures together and work as one team, is like handing a set of watercolors to a sketch artist who has always worked with charcoal. Amazigh, Arab, French, American and other cultures opened a whole new range of possibilities and boosts our creativity to decision making and problem solving. However, the applied language appears to be a further problem in communication during our meetings and internal/external communication as we always need intermediator with mono-langual colleagues. While almost 60 percent of the work we do is in English (with some mixing here and there), the language abilities vary greatly.
As project manager/coordinator, I have found myself developing my communication skills and language without realizing in it, swinging with four languages a day. The consequences are often misinterpretations and misunderstandings. It is frustrating and sometimes causes tention! I learn to overcome this challenge by recognising and appreciating the differences and similarities and learning how to deal with them.

I do appreciate to be exposed to intercultural team at Dar Si Hmad and I have experienced how it can be of great advantage. Every culture is unique so there are differences between every single culture. But instead of complaining about these differences, such creative diversity is embraced and integrated into our work concept. By doing this many problems can simply be overcome.

Friday, September 20, 2019

From The Logbook: Employees of DSH Tell their Stories/ Salwa El Haouti, Communication Officer


Learning the tools of the Trade


It’s been only two months that I am the communication officer of Dar Si Hmad and yet, I have already had to face many challenges. When I first started in the organization, I was so eager to learn,  to improve and to put to  practice all the communicational skills I had recently acquired through the many courses I completed whether online or at the university, but the priority is that I had to work with a PhD candidate, a CELAR student needing assistance for the research she was conducting here in Morocco. 

Though the large umbrella of this research was on climate change and water scarcity in the rural Southwest region of Morocco, her specific questions focused primarily on how this climate change impacts the health and lives of underserved marginalized women within these areas of the country. This is a new field of research, still emerging and research is being conducted in different disciplines. The challenge was basically a linguistic one, most of the published material being either in French  or in Arabic and not in English; this is where my role came in.

I am a native speaker of Arabic and French languages, and my role was to assist her in completing a literature review, and finding what is emerging as the most important topics within the field; this task was surely stimulating but also very demanding for me. I felt I had to shoulder the new responsibility but I also was apprehensive that my work would not meet the demand and expectation of the researcher. Documents, both in French and Arabic are easily available, but providing a faithful and accurate translation for their content is where the challenge lay. Working on one single article of some 7 pages would generally take 3 days of intense work to find out the accurate and nuanced translation of the jargon it contained and its general message; we were meeting daily for the entire month of July. This task demanded rigor and discipline and even when stressful at times, it proved to be also one that benefited me greatly and widened my knowledge horizon.

Now and following the completion of this demanding task, I can focus on the communication matters and the future RISE project I am designing with the team’s help. The days spent in the organization go by very fast to the extent I did not  realize the start of the new academic year. as I am now pursuing my Masters’ Degree at Ibn Zohr university. I am full of emotions, happy, excited, fearful, but always hopeful.  

Friday, September 13, 2019

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

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.

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.