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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Unsung Heroes Interview #8: Fatiha!

Interview with Fatiha Tachakourt

Fatiha Tachakourt is a part- time employee at Dar Si Hmad,
the Water/ Oasis School teacher in Sidi Ifni, and a language teacher at the office.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Fatiha Tachakourt and I am 26 years old.

Where are you from?
I am from Agadir, Morocco. My family is from Agadir as well,
so I’ve lived here my whole life.

Where did you graduate from and with what degree?
I attended Ibon Zohr University where I studied to get my Masters Degree
in Journalism and Media Diversity.

What brought you to Dar Si Hmad?
I’ve been with Dar Si Hmad for 3 years now. I actually got the job
working here through a friend of mine who knows the office manager.
She told me that Dar Si Hmad was looking for a woman who spoke
English and had the patience to work with small children. At the time,
I was looking for a social work position, and children and education
are two passions of mine so this opportunity seemed perfect. My friend
sent in my CV, I got an interview and soon after I became a part of the
Dar Si Hmad team.

Describe your role at Dar Si Hmad
My main role at Dar Si Hmad is to teach at the Water/ Oasis School
for children in the villages near Sidi Ifni. I’ve taught two editions of the
Water School and the first edition of the Oasis School. I also provide
language lessons in Darija and Tashlheet for Dar Si Hmad interns,
EFS students and other students in Agadir wanting to learn Tashlheet.
Originally, I came to work at Dar Si Hmad just for the Water School,
but I began teaching these lessons as well because of my education and language skills.

What is your favorite part about coming to Dar Si Hmad?
My favorite part about teaching with the Water/ Oasis School
is definitely the kids. They are a form of therapy for me. I have a special
connection with all of them that motivates me to continue searching and
giving them my best with the rest of the Oasis School team. I feel like they
are my own children; I call them my kids. Before every session, I think about
the theme/ goal of the lesson and how I can best transmit that message to
these eager and wonderful children.

My favorite part about coming into the office is the team; they feel like family
to me. Everyone is so friendly and I can be myself with everyone. People
are always smiling and greeting you as you come in the door of Dar Si Hmad.
And Dandara of course; I don’t really have a good relationship with cats,
but she is fun and brings a new persona to the office.

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about Dar Si Hmad?
I would like everyone to know that Dar Si Hmad offers an opportunity
to learn many things that you’ve never learned before in school and gain
insight into things you were never previously aware of. It’s a place where
you can share and build on your skills with a truly wonderful team.

What is one of your most memorable moments at Dar Si Hmad?
There are always memorable moments with the Water School, but
one time, we planted a tree near the school and the children decided to
name it Fatiha. Even though the tree died, it was still very special to me.
The kids were blaming each other as to why the tree died, and it turned into
a good laugh.
Everytime a Water or Oasis School session ends and we have to say goodbye,
there are always lots of tears and hugs from both the students and the team.
It’s very meaningful and emotional. Those moments always leave an impression on me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Unsung Heroes Post #7, Karima!

Interview with Karima Belouad

Karima Belouad is a current local intern here at Dar Si Hmad who
specializes in translation.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Karima Belouad and I am 25 years old.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Agadir, and my family is also from the area.

Are you currently in school/ studying and if so where?
I attended Ibon Zohr University for my undergraduate degree where
I got my B.A. in English Linguistics. I am currently studying at King Fahd
School of Translation in Tangier. I am working on my final research paper
about the ideology of translation. I’ve specialized in the translation
between Arabic, French and English.

Describe your role at DSH/ how you became involved with DSH.
I am currently working with Dar Si Hmad as a translator for the manual
of procedures. I am translating it from French to English and Arabic.
However, I’ve been involved with Dar Si Hmad previously as well.
Last year I needed an internship for my school, so I applied here and
was accepted. Last May I worked on translating parts of the manual as
well. I also got to travel to Sidi Ifni with a German journalist where we
interviewed the local Amazigh people about the effects of the Fog Harvesting
project on their lives. We also interviewed people who were expecting to
benefit from the project soon to hear what expectations and excitement
they had in regards to having water flow into their homes. I traveled to
Sidi Ifni again this past January/ February as a Dar Si Hmad speaking
partner for an EFS group visiting form Rabat which was another really
fun learning experience.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
My favorite part about working with Dar Si Hmad is having the opportunity
to experience so many new things, such as being a journalist, traveling and
meeting so many new people from both Morocco and abroad. The DSH office
is such a friendly work environment to be in as well. It also feels so rewarding
to be apart of a NGO that’s doing very successful and impactful work.

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
I want everyone to know that Dar Si Hmad has such a huge impact in the
region of Aït Baamrane; the fog project is changing people’s lives dramatically!
Dar Si Hmad also has a lot of impact here on the youth of Agadir with its
RISE Program and internship opportunities. It gives the whole city of Agadir
a good name throughout Morocco.

What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH?
Last year when I went to Sidi Ifni for the first time with the German journalist,
we interviewed several families in the villages that are benefitting from the
Fog Harvesting project. When we approached the families and mentioned
that we were from Dar Si Hmad, they were instantly elated and welcomed
us so genuinely with open arms. Seeing them react with such an overflow of
gratitude and love was overwhelming. It made me realize for the first time
that I was truly working with something valuable and meaningful. All of the
trouble we had getting to the villages was worth it to see these people and
experience their joy. During this trip, I also walked with the women on their
old route to the wells to collect water. It was so tiring, even without carrying
buckets of water! I got to meet the mothers of women who previously
collected water for their families, and they were so grateful and appreciative
that their daughters no longer had the burden they carried their whole lives.
Talking to these people personally verified all of my work and efforts with
Dar Si Hmad.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Unsung Heroes Post 6: Natalie Sullivan

Interview with Natalie Sullivan

Natalie Sullivan is a Fulbright intern at Dar Si Hmad
from the United States.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Natalie Sullivan and I am 23 years old.

Where are you from?
I am from Houston, Texas.

How long have you been in/ lived in Agadir?
I’ve been in Agadir for about 6 months.

Where did you graduate from & with what degree?
I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in
English and Arabic.

What brought you to Agadir/ Dar Si Hmad?
I'm here in Morocco as part of the Fulbright program, which is an
international exchange program. I was placed in Agadir to work as a
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at ENCG. Fulbright also encourages
people to volunteer alongside their teaching. I really like DSH's mission
and the work that they do, so I volunteer/intern here as well!

Describe your role at DSH:
I've mainly been working on developing curriculum and teaching
sessions of the RISE program. Last semester it focused on professional
development, and this semester it'll be more discussion-based,
focusing on "taboo topics" like immigration, freedom of belief, and
gender in Morocco. The students are always motivated, and it's been
great working with them.

What is your favorite part about coming to DSH?
Seeing Dandara (the office cat)! Honestly though, the best thing about
DSH for me is the people who work there. They're all incredibly intelligent,
hard working and fun. They've gone above and beyond to make me feel
comfortable here. Couscous Fridays are another major perk, too!

What is one thing you’d like everyone to know about DSH?
They do amazing work, not only with the fog project, but in other areas
too-- the Oasis School, EFS, and RISE.

What is one of your most memorable moments at DSH?
One time I was teaching a RISE session on my birthday and the students
made a surprise birthday video for me and played it in the middle of the
lesson! It was such a sweet gesture, and the DSH staff all signed a birthday
card for me too!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Unsung Heroes Post 5: Dandara!

Interview With Dandara
Dandara is staff member Soufian Aaraīchi’s daughter and Dar
Si Hmad’s favorite furry friend. She is a crucial member of the Dar Si Hmad
team and provides endless emotional support with her cuddles and
playful spirit.

What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Dandara and I am 4 months old.

Favorite nap spot.
The perrrr-fect spot to take naps is in the printer in the sunroom. It gets so
warm and cozy in there, and it’s just a great spot to snuggle up and sleep.

Favorite hiding places.
Oh I have so many! I love to hide in the printer in the sunroom, the box in
Abdallah’s closet, inside people’s bags and the cabinets. I have a couple
more, but I need to keep those secret.

Favorite day of week
My favorite day of the week is definitely Friday because we usually
order couscous and I always get some chicken or meat from the leftovers.
It’s so delicious. I jump up on Soufian’s or Maisie’s lap and they usually give
me more. Afterwards, I go take a nap in the sunroom.  

Favorite snack
I love leftover chicken tagine! Whenever I smell it in the office, I go running
to the kitchen and ask very nicely for someone to share with me. Sometimes
they don’t give it to me right away, but I make sure to let them know how much I want it.

Role at DSH/ why your role is important
My job at Dar Si Hmad is to make people smile. Everyone works so hard and
sometimes things get hectic and stressful. When that happens, I do my best to
be extra cute and playful to see my friends smile again. I will also occasionally
let people hold and snuggle with me to make them feel even better. They also like
it when I get extra crazy and knock over the trash cans or play with stuff on their desks.

Favorite things to do.
I love to play with candy wrappers that I find in the trash. They’re so fun to
chase around the hallways. I also love sleeping in Maisie’s purse or napping
on Soufian’s arm while he’s working on his computer. Eating chicken is one
of my favorite things ever! Sometimes birds will fly into the kitchen from outside
and I will practice hunting them, but they usually get away.