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, March 27, 2018

Unsung Heroes Interview Number 4: Georgia Morgan

Interview of Georgia Morgan

Georgia Morgan is an American intern at Dar Si Hmad who worked on the
RISE 5.2 semester and piloted the ‘Unsung Heroes of Dar Si Hmad’ Project.
She is on a gap year of service through UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship.
Tomorrow is her last day of internship at DSH and we are all going to miss her!

Interview conducted on 20 March 2018.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Georgia Morgan and I am 19 years old.

Where are you from?
I am from Cary, North Carolina in the United States.

How long will you be in Agadir?
I’ve been in Agadir for 2 months now, and I’ll be leaving in about a week
and a half for Italy as the last part of my gap year.

Where do you currently go to school?
This August, I will start my studies at the University of North Carolina in
Chapel Hill. I’m not sure what I’ll major in yet, but I am interested in
environmental studies, international relations/ global studies and journalism/
mass communication.

What brought you to Agadir/ DSH?
I am here in Agadir working with Dar Si Hmad as a part of my university’s
Global Gap Year Fellowship. I applied and was accepted to UNC last fall and
decided to apply to this fellowship that allows about 8 rising freshman to do a
year of service abroad before beginning their university education. My goal for
this gap year has been to work with organizations that focus on human rights
and environmentalism. Before coming here, I spent 3 months in Cape Town,
South Africa working with a refugee and migrant organization. Dar Si Hmad
seemed like a perfect second venture, as this organization specifically addresses
human rights and environmental issues and how the two directly impact each other.  

Describe your role at DSH.
Here at Dar Si Hmad, I’ve been heavily involved in the new semester of
RISE, including reading applications, organizing interviews, selecting members,
curriculum design and facilitating/ participating in the actual sessions. It’s
been a lot of fun to meet young Moroccans around my age and learn from
their perspectives on the social issues we’ve been discussing. I’ve also been
in charge of starting this project! When I first arrived to Agadir in January,
this project was proposed to me and I began developing the ideas and goals
of the ‘Unsung Heroes of Dar Si Hmad’. I came up with a list of people to
interview and photograph as well as questions we’d like to ask to gain some
insight into these people’s lives and roles here at DSH. It’s been a lot of fun,
and I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone further, hearing new stories and
seeing how much Dar Si Hmad’s work and community means to people.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
My favorite part about coming into Dar Si Hmad has been the community,
especially with the RISE sessions. On days we have RISE, there’s always a
lot of people in the office and it’s a very engaging day. I’ve really enjoyed
working with Alex, Natalie, Ayman, Hafida, Sara and Maisie to make this
semester of RISE a reality! On the days we hold sessions, we usually spend
the day preparing and have lunch together which is a lot of fun. Then we come
back together for the actual session, and it’s really great to see all the RISErs
come in smiling and fresh with ideas. Everyone at Dar Si Hmad is so friendly
and generous. I come in every morning and am greeted by Abdallah’s
smiling face, Maisie’s bubbly personality, Soufian’s contagious laugh and every
now and then, our fluffy friend Dandara.  

What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH?
One of my most memorable moments at Dar Si Hmad was on a Wednesday,
and Maisie wanted to go out to lunch to have rfissa in Batoir. Everyone in the
office decided to go, but it was pouring rain outside which is very uncommon
for Agadir. We decided to go anyway, and we had to run through the rain for
about 10 minutes. By time we got to the restaurant we were all soaking wet and
laughing because we felt so silly. We had a great lunch though and devoured
the rfissa. We had good conversation, lots of laughs, delicious food and warm
tea as the rain poured outside. It was just a really fun day and one of my first
adventures with my coworkers.

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
I want everyone to know how truly amazing, impressive and impactful the work done by
Dar Si Hmad is. The office and staff size is all quite small, which makes it even more
impressive when learning about all that this organization has done and continues to
do. The fog project in Aït Baamrane is incredible and has changed the lives of the
people in those villages. Additionally, the Oasis School, Permaculture project,
Ethnographic Field School and RISE Program provide so many opportunities
for not only people in the Aït Baamrane region, but also in Agadir and internationally.
I have learned a lot and been inspired by the incredibly hardworking and passionate
people I’ve worked with and met here through Dar Si Hmad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Abdellah Zaaboul: Unsung Heroes Interview 3

Interview for Abdellah Zaaboul

Abdellah Zaaboul is a bicycle delivery man who works for Assaka café in Agadir.
He brings bread and tea to Dar Si Hmad almost daily, and will also deliver
delicious tagines for lunch and amazing couscous on Fridays.

If you are in Agadir and are interested in Abdellah’s delicious services,
please call 0661504678 to see if Assaka café’s delectable Moroccan cuisine
can be delivered to you!

What is your name?
My name is Abdellah Zaaboul.

Where are you from?
I am originally from Tiznit, Morocco where my family is currently living.
I go to Tiznit almost every weekend to visit them.

How long have you been in/ lived in Agadir?
I moved to Agadir in 1993, and I have lived and worked here ever since.

What is your occupation?
I work at Assaka café (also known as B’Aaroub) here in Agadir. I don’t have
just one job at the cafe; I play all of the roles depending on where the need is.
Sometimes I will cook, serve, clean and deliver food all in the same day.
I’ve been working here since I moved to Agadir in 1993.

How are you involved with Dar Si Hmad? (Describe “behind the scenes role.”)
And how long have you been involved with Dar Si Hmad?
I deliver food (khobz, atay, tagines, couscous, and more) from Assaka to Dar Si
Hmad on my bicycle. I’ve been delivering food to the office for about 10 months now.
I used to deliver food to people in the area by foot, but I wanted to improve my efficiency
and deliver to more customers in a shorter amount of time. As a result, I had the idea of
delivering on my bike! At first it was challenging, but the more I did it, the more I improved
at carrying the dishes while riding my bike through the city’s traffic.

What is the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is when we finish all of the deliveries, clean up the dishes
and kitchen and leave feeling fulfilled after a hard day of work. It feels great to enjoy
the free moments of the evening after a busy day of satisfying our customers. That’s
the feeling of success.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
Dar Si Hmad is a family, not an office. From the first time I delivered to Dar Si Hmad,
I was impressed by the family environment of the workplace. Everyone here also pays
me right on time or in advance for my services, and I really appreciate that. I never lose
money when I come to Dar Si Hmad. They are very genuine and honest as well; if I
ever forget to collect a payment for a delivery, they are sure to remind me and pay me
in full. The staff here makes me feel so welcome and respected. They will ask me about
my day and talk to me like family. I really enjoy coming into Dar Si Hmad.

What is one of your most memorable moments on the job?
One time on a delivery for a big event, I was on Avenue El Mouqwama by Dar Si
Hmad when a taxi suddenly hit me. I was thrown across the street along with my
bike and all the food I was carrying. It was pretty disastrous, and I ended up almost
breaking my arm. However, this was a very big event that I was delivering to, so I
went back to the café to get more food, made a sling for my arm and managed to
deliver the food to the event that night with my good arm. After I got my bike fixed,
I continued to make deliveries with one arm while my other one was healing in the sling.

I would like to give a special ‘thank you’ to Dar Si Hmad staff member
Abdallah El Moutaouif for assisting in translation and in arranging the
entire interview.

Friday, March 16, 2018

RISE Session 2: Gender & Society

This Blog post is by UNC Global Gap Year Fellow and DSH Intern Georgia Morgan

This week in RISE we discussed the complex social issue of gender. To introduce
the topic, we asked the students to respond to the following writing prompt: “What
are some experiences you have had that led you to realize there were different
expectations for different genders?” After about 15 minutes of thinking and writing,
we shared some of our thoughts. A lot of us had similar stories that shared the
common theme of restricting people of a certain gender in their behavior and what
they were “supposed” to like and dislike. Through our shared experiences, we found
that the expectations for men and women in society were very limiting and even
possible to visualize in boxes -- which led us directly into our next activity.

For the Gender Box activity, we drew two large boxes on the whiteboard, one for men
and the other for women. We then asked the students to come up with the “expected”
or “stereotypical” feelings, behaviors and traits of men and women in society as well as
names for people that don’t fit within those boxes. Overall, the students decided that,
in the views of society, men were supposed to be prideful, strong, smart, emotionless,
dominant and aggressive while women were supposed to be submissive, kind, quiet,
loving, naive, emotional and irrational. Following a short break, we came back together
to reflect on the activity. “What do you notice about the influence of male and female
stereotypes on how men and women are expected to “show up” in the world?” “How
might those stereotypes influence how people think about leaders who behave in ways
that are ‘outside of the box’?” “Does women’s power change if they learn to ‘behave like
a man?’” How do we change these societal expectations? Where do you think these
expectations about gender come from?

We found that, in general, when people behave outside of their corresponding “gender box”,
they are faced with a lot of negativity and judgement, that these stereotypes are a worldwide
issue and are reinforced by things like media and culture, and that the best way to start
changing these societal expectations is to start small and address our expectations of our
family, children, friends and peers based on their gender.
Our final discussion topic was, “is sexual harassment an individual or societal issue?”
which we chose because sexual harassment is a prominent manifestation of these
gender-based societal expectations. There was some back and forth debate, but in the
end, we came to the conclusion that while individuals choose whether or not to harass,
there is an overarching societal pressure that normalizes this behavior without consequence.

The students also voted on their student choice topic session during week 9
which will be the Moroccan educational system! It’s been great to see the students
get more comfortable and open to sharing their personal experiences and voicing
their opinions. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the RISErs more and build that
closer group dynamic. I’m looking forward to next week’s sessions on immigration
and migration!


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Unsung Heroes Interview 2: Alex Kochenburger

Alex Kochenburger is a Fulbright intern at Dar Si Hmad from the United States.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Alex Kochenburger and I am 22 years old.
Where are you from?
I am from Storrs, Connecticut.
How long have you been in/ lived in Agadir?
I have been living in Agadir for over five months, but I’ve also lived in Rabat and
Meknes in the past.

Where did you graduate from and with what degree?
I graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts with a
Bachelors of Arts in International Studies and Arabic.

What brought you to Agadir/ Dar Si Hmad?
I am in Agadir on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant. I teach English
courses at the Ecole Nationale de Commerce et Gestion (ENCG) and volunteer
at Dar Si Hmad in my free time.

Describe your role at Dar Si Hmad.
At Dar Si Hmad, I am a Rise session instructor. Along with another Fulbrighter
named Natalie Sullivan, I am responsible for designing and teaching the curriculum
for Dar Si Hmad's Rise program. Whereas last semester's Rise program focused
on teaching Agadiri students employability and professional development skills,
this semester's Rise program hopes to provide a space for Agadiri students to
discuss contemporary issues that are relevant to their lives.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
My favorite part about coming in to Dar Si Hmad is having the opportunity to work
with the wonderful students of the Rise program. Throughout my experience as a
Rise instructor, I have been unfailingly impressed by the students' work ethics,
senses of humor and dedication to learning.  

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
I would want everyone to know that Dar Si Hmad is full of innovative and
energetic employees that are always looking for new ways to implement diverse
projects in southern Morocco. Aside from Dar Si Hmad's flagship fog harvesting
plant, the organization also runs an Oasis School, an Ethnographic Field School,
a center for language and research and the Rise program.

What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH?

One of my most memorable moments with Dar Si Hmad was last semester's
Rise closing ceremony. Not only did we Rise instructors take the opportunity
to embarrass ourselves, but it was also very fulfilling to celebrate the end of a
great program with our students.