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, April 30, 2019

Another Month, Another Capacity Building Workshop!

Written by Ms. Tyler and Ms.Mazoud

Our participants during the workshops

Dar Si Hmad organized the last TWO workshops for the Capacity Building Program! Our participants have gained so many insights on their experiences and aspirations, and we can’t wait to see how they use their new knowledge to benefit their communities.
The third week of March marked the fifth workshop for the capacity building program for NGOs. Our trainer Soufiyan Saaoudi led this workshop which was about Leadership, Team building Skills, and Communications. 
We were very lucky to learn from the experience and expertise of our trainer, Mr. Soufiyan and to bring his own perspective on how to manage an NGO, as the president of the Youth EmpowermentSociety - YES organization.
Throughout these sessions, we trained our participants to create a communication strategy with an emphasis on the importance of digital communication and marketing. 
For our team building skills session, we took our participants to the roof where we played many games that encourage and teach our participants how to work within a team.
The trainer Soufiyan during the fifth workshop

For April’s workshop we gave the opportunity to our participants to choose the topics they still want to learn about, they voted for finding funding! Our final training session occurred April 21-22, where our trainer Imane El Ouizgani led two sessions for our participants, one on fund generating activities and the other on finding and writing grants applications.
On the first day, participants brainstormed ideas for fund-generating activities for their own NGOs in order to strengthen their NGOs’ financial viability and expand their available resources. Participants gave feedback to each other on how they could make their programs more competitive and profitable. 
We also worked with our participants to develop business plans for their fund-generating activities that they could use to propose their ideas to their boards and potential funding sources.  Participants also made SWOT analyses and GANTT charts of their proposed projects, so they could visualize the necessary steps they need to take to make their ideas into realities.
Our participants during one of our rooftop activities 

On the second day, we explored another source of income for NGOs—grants! Imane covered the grant application process from start to finish, including the technical challenges of understanding grant requirements and registering for application portals.
Participants gained experience in using effective keywords when searching for grants and were introduced to components of effective storytelling in writing grants. We also introduced our participants to crowdfunding platforms, focusing on our partner, Global Giving.
The ultimate purpose of this workshop was to make progress on applying the knowledge participants have gained during this training to creating social impact in their own communities. 
One of the greater objectives of this DSH initiative is to equip our participants with the skills to launch new projects at their own NGOs. So far many of our participants have exciting ideas for new initiatives they intend to launch after honing their skills through the Capacity Building Workshop. 
We hope to meet individually with our participants soon so we can learn more details about their progress in launching these new projects and provide advice as needed. We look forward to meeting with our participants for one final time as a complete group for our closing ceremony in June!
Trainer Imane during the sixth workshop

Thursday, April 11, 2019

RISE Citizen Journalism 2019: The Two First Weeks

Written by our intern Ms. Katie Tyler 

Risers during the workshops
With the rise of social media, we live in a world where citizens have more power than ever to share information and news. Citizens are now able to share their observations and thoughts with more people than has ever been possible before. Citizen journalism will become even more important in the future, as we need more voices from everyday people to speak out against environmental injustices that tend to affect marginalized communities disproportionately.
For the past decade Dar Si Hmad has been committed to empowering young people and protecting the environment of southern Morocco. Creating a new edition of RISE that specifically focused on citizen journalism and environmental justice seemed like the most effective way to meet both of these goals.
Our vision for this new edition of RISE is to equip young leaders in Agadir with the skills to effectively share stories and information both within their local communities and on a national and international platform as citizen journalists. We have recently wrapped up our first two sessions with our new class of RISERs! 
During our orientation session, we got to know our RISE participants and discuss our hopes and goals for this workshop series. We played a lot of different games to learn each other’s names and get to know about our interests and aspirations. For one game, we passed around a roll of toilet paper and instructed RISERs to “take as much as they needed.” When we finished passing around the roll, we told them that they had to tell the group one fact about themselves for each piece of toilet paper they took!
Besides spending time getting to know each other, we spent time on building a new community of dedicated citizen journalists. We wrote a constitution for the rules that would shape our RISE community and agreed to uphold this social contract. We made goals for our involvement and left with a clearer vision of the kinds of citizen journalists we wanted to become.
During the second week of programming, we focused on journalistic ethics. Using the guidelines from the Society of Professional Journalists as a model for our curriculum, we explored the different facets of ethics in journalism. Because Dar Si Hmad believes that students learn more if they are involved in activities and must think for themselves, we included many interactive activities. 
We had one activity where participants read real-life news articles and had to use their critical reading skills to investigate whether the articles were fake news or real headlines. We also encouraged participants to work together on teams. For our session on minimizing harm as journalists, we presented groups with different ethical scenarios in which they had to decide whether to grant interview subjects anonymity, and if so, how they would take measures to protect their subjects’ identities.
Of course, we made time for fun games so that we could continue to bond as a group! We created a BINGO sheet where each square had a characteristic or attribute (such as: “Never had a cavity” “Has three siblings” “Plays soccer”). Participants were instructed to find different RISERs who could sign the different squares that contained an attribute that described him or herself. Whoever could find enough RISERs who fit the different descriptions so that their BINGO sheet had a complete signature in a horizontal, diagonal, or vertical line would win!
As a facilitator I also learned a lot from these RISE sessions. All the participants have very thoughtful perspectives on the value and uses of citizen journalism and have articulate visions for how they want to create change in their communities. I am very excited to continue working with our RISE participants on honing their skills as journalists. They already have so many exciting stories to share, so I can’t wait to sharpen their storytelling abilities and work with them to investigate new stories to spread!