Permablitz in Farraha
04 April 2014
This spring, we’ve organized a small permablitz with the SIT students of World Learning, La Fleur de Vie and the children from the village. They dug out a swale, planted, made compost …
and had a fantastic couscous with all the villagers!
You can check out more pictures here.
One tree, One child
20 September 2013
What better way to celebrate life than to have each child plant their own tree and care for it?
Earlier this year and with the help of Azzedine, children from the village each planted a fruit tree to care for on the center’s land. When asked what ‘caring for a tree’ meant, children were all sure about watering, feeding with compost, weeding and even mulching!
But when I mentioned loving, talking or singing to the tree, they considered me mad!
The idea that plants may be sentient has been rejected by scientists on the basis that plants do not have a nervous system. However many experiments have shown otherwise and I can only refer you to ” The secret life of plants”, a book by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird.
One thing is sure though is that plants do communicate with one another, and with insects…so why not with us?
Our Olive Oil.
25 January 2014
I own a small olive grove not far from the center and every year since the opening, I sell my olive oil, and all the proceeds go to Ouazzaniyat.
As soon as the olives are picked, we ground them using a large millstone (pulled by two donkeys) at an oil mill in the village. The paste is then spread in woven baskets that look like discs, which are then stacked on top of each other into the press.
The solid and liquid (oil +vegetation water) are separated, and then by the standard process of decantation, the oil separates from the water.
We bottled the oil, had the tags drawn by the children and sold it to friends and family wherever we could.
The money collected will be donated to the association, with the children and villagers.
As the years go by, organizing this event gets easier. Each time, more people from the village volunteer for the harvest…But I am hoping that more and more will come, making this day an occasion to celebrate altogether nature’s generosity!
Didier Meunier at La Fleur de Vie.
28 June 2013
Didier has more then 25 years experience in natural vegetable gardening, both as a professional teacher and seed banker (Kokopelli) in Europe and Africa.
La Fleur de Vie is a beautiful 45 hectar farm located on the shores of Lake Wahda, 2 hours away from Farraha, that aims to be an educational campus where will be taught anything from alternative currencies and eco-construction to cheese making and seed banking...that could allow anyone who wants, to walk on the path to autonomy.
Azzedine and Abdillah from Dar Lil-Kul Farraha (DLKF) were sponsored by Ouazzaniyat to go on the seed saving and banking course that lasted a week. They came back with a load of knowledge regarding seeds in general, how we grow them to save them, and to pass them on from one generation to the other, amidst the sad reality of Monsanto's GMO's, fertilizers, pesticides ... to say the least. La Fleur de Vie donated lots of different seeds of many different varieties of vegetables to DLKF, which will hopefully be planted, saved, and sold locally.
Azzedine and Abdillah are working on organizing a seed saving and banking workshop with the children, as soon as the school year starts.
From Botswana to Farraha!
17 June 2013
Mothers for All (www.mothersforall.org) is a non profit organization that supports the women of botswana who are caring for orphans and vulnerable children by providing income generation programmes, lifeskills workshops in food gardening, health and nutrition, environmental awareness and money management and more.
The mothers recycle waste paper such as magazines, newspapers, cardboard packaging to make paper bead jewellery, book marks, key rings and more.
They also make hand made paper, cards and packaging.
Jenny Dunlop, co-founder of mothers for all, flew from Botswana to teach the children, and all of us in Ouazzaniyat, how to make paper from old used paper.
It was very inspiring to see how quickly the children picked up on the technique and replicated soon after. We need to organize many more workshops throughout the year...
So if, by any chance, you're passing by the north of Morocco, and you want to share a skill, please do not hesitate to contact us!
Planting and seedballing...
04 March 2013
For the second time, children and adults in Farraha were thrilled to host another group of World Learning SIT students.
This time they stayed 2 nights and the students loved it so much that they suggested the next group should stay 3 nights.
We've presented the project thoroughly, and organized an encounter between the students and the villagers during which they could discover each other by asking questions about any topic they found relevant.
The students were divided into 3 groups, some were planting trees with Azzedine, others were discovering different medicinal plants growing in the wild with Abdillah, and the last group was seedballing.
Seedballs are really useful when aunts gather and birds eat your seeds after you've sowed them. They are easy and fun to make with children.
The recipe is simple: 1 part seeds, 3 parts compost, 7 parts soil and water to make it all stick together...and start rolling! Once they are dry, you can simply throw them wherever and wait for the rain.
Christian, Welcome back to Farraha!
25 January 2013
Christian Viladent is here to spend a week in Farraha to train Abdillah (Dar Lil-Kul Farraha's facilitator) on non-conventional teaching methods.
Besides all his expertise and warmth, he brought with him lots of story books for the children, games, puzzles and ideas to make learning fun and enjoyable.
Christian first came to Farraha in October 2012 with a group of American university students enrolled in the SIT World Learning Program in Health and Development Policy Program. Our systemic approach to development and the system we are working to set up with the local community helped the students to become more knowledgeable about sustainable development programs. Like us, SIT aims at developing long-term relationships and this is why another group of SIT students will visit us in April.
This recognition goes beyond our expectations and we are truly grateful to Christian for trusting our efforts.
Christian Viladent (PharmD, PhD, MBA) is the Academic Director of the SIT (School for International Learning) World Learning Program in Global Health and Development Policy in Geneva, Switzerland.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013!
15 January 2013
On behalf of Ouazzaniyat, I wish you a very Happy New Year 2013!
Thanks to your donations and purchases, we have raised 38,000 MAD (USD 4,490) during the silent auction!
This is an immense motivation for us to continue our efforts in what we believe can definitely make a long lasting change in people's lives in the rural areas of the Ouezzane Province.
This community-led, integrated approach to development could be a solution to the problems of poverty, education, population movements, environmental damage and more.
The outcome could save millions of farmers from leaving their land and help to develop and promote the rural areas, restoring land value and bringing back dignity and self-worth to it's people.
This year is a very decisive year for Ouazzaniyat and for our pilot project.
Our objective for 2013 is that the Community Learning Center is sustained by the local community through the Community Cooperative by December 2013.
This means: A lot of work.
But we have everything we need to make it happen.
Your donations will sustain the center and will pay for several workshops to teach different income generating skills during the year.
I will keep you updated through our blog, on the different events.
Again, thank you very much for your generous donations, thank you for being part of this venture.
"The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself" - Franklin D. Roosevelt
03 October 2012
For two days, we hosted 20 american students in Faraha. Anxiety quickly dissipated when each saw the other as a normal human being, with the same needs and hopes. Hosts and guests were delighted with this first experience, asking for more!
These students are part of a World Learning development program (www.worldlearning.org) and thanks to our partner organization Thaqafat we made this encounter happen.
Besides learning about life, culture and traditions in Faraha, they had a community service to render. So we decided on something very meaningful and symbolic: Soil and trees.
Can you see the gold beyond that brownish dirty muck?
Soil is alive, and keeps us alive. Without soil, there is no life.
And one way to build a rich enduring topsoil with abundant life in the form of worms, burrowing creatures and a high humic content is to make compost. Making compost does nothing else then accelerate the decomposition process that occurs naturally. Anything that was once alive can be composted. The trick is to get the Nitrogen and Carbon ratio right, enough air and the perfect levels of humidity. It can be done in 3 weeks if we turn it every couple of days or in 6 months if we decide to let it be.
The finished product is rich, dark, crumbly, sweet smelling and nutrient rich for the plants to thrive in and us to live.
Let it rain... and catch it!
12 September 2012
We don't realize how vital water is until it's dry, the taps are dry, the soil is dry, the air is dry, we are dry everything is dry!
In this region, rain falls generously from November to Mai, then it stops for 6 consecutive months. We are still very lucky and have so many solutions to chose from!
Last winter we dug basins on contour to harvest water passively on our land so that it doesn't just run away with the topsoil and the nutrients. That way we restaure the water table and have a chance to see all the natural springs alive again!
This month, and thanks to private donations, we were able to construct a huge cistern that can contain 60m3 of water, enough to water the small trees on our land during the entire dry summer!
What we are harvesting in this cistern is less then half of what we could harvest with a 100m2 roof.
The average rainfall in our region is 1500mm.
1500x100= 150m3 is the amount of free water we get, enough to sustain a family of 5 for an entire year!
Another long-term solution is to plant trees, but we'll have time to write about it in a later post...
PDC with Geoff Lawton at the IMRP
17 July 2012
A PDC is a 72h Permaculture Design Course put together by Bill Mollison.
Geoff Lawton is from Australia and is one of the most prominent permaculturlist in the world.
For more information www.permaculture.org.au
The IMRP is the 'Institut Marocain de Recherche sur la Permaculture' located on the shores of the Lake Wahda, only 2 hours from where we are: www.permaculture.ma
Azzedine (the land's caretaker), Abderrahim (the Project Coordinator) and Abdelhay (a part time volunteer in Ouazzaniyat) have all three gone through this 15 day course, learning about soils, soil life, water, compost, patterns in nature, earthworks, beneficial connections, and most importantly how to design sustainable human habitats...
They came back transformed like anyone doing a PDC for the first time, feeling how generous and clement mother nature is, and how natural abundance can be restored with a little help and good faith from us.
What a relief!
Brandon, Jennifer and Rose
22 May 2012
When Jennifer (an amazing Waldorf school teacher from N.Y) and Brandon (a Chef, an IT expert, a Gardener, and much more!) arrived to Morocco, they had no idea what to expect.
They had initially planned to stay 2 months and finally stayed 3 living in a traditional mud house in the village, going to the souk every Saturday by foot or donkey, getting invited to celebrations by the villagers, learning about the local customs and traditions, sharing food with the neighbors….
Brandon worked on the land, dug basins, made compost, planted trees with Azzedine, while Jennifer helped us implement a work system in the center, for the children, that had to last after she leaves: The idea was to empower the children to be responsible for the center, their own learning and the learning of the younger ones.
Very ambitious indeed!
But in 3 months she was able, with Abdulilah (the center’s permanent facilitator), Brandon and Rose (a super smart young History student from Oxford) to do an outstanding job in empowering the children and guiding them towards responsibility.
We are aware it will take more time, a lot of time, but the change we noticed in these 3 months convinced us that this was the way to go, for the children’s growth, to initiate volunteering for community building and to simply learn how to take care and appreciate what we have.
Thank you Jennifer and Brandon!
Thank you Rose!
It was great to have you, and we are going to miss you!
Farraha on May 6, 2012.
15 May 2012
An important date in our story as we celebrated the official opening of Dar Lil-Kul Farraha with family, friends and community members of all ages, with representatives of the local authorities and teachers from nearby schools, permaculturists and human rights activists, donors and facilitators...
We presented our project and explained the system we are working hard to set up:
A Community Learning Center that aims at being self-sustainable within a few years.
With the little means we have, all this seems ideal and impossible. But its the little means that we have that make it possible for us to see and appreciate what we have all around us, and to work with it creatively.
The Center, the Land, the Community and Ouazzaniyat are all interconnected elements with different necessary functions for the system to develop into a resilient and self-sustainable whole.
It is possible. It only needs a bit more time.
A week before the opening, a new friend gave me a book entitled: "Walk out Walk on", by M.Wheatley and D.Frieze, 'A learning journey into communities daring to live the future now'.
This book increased my determination to continue working towards our aim, by welcoming the next phases of our project with joy, humour and hope!
THANK YOU ARAMEX!
12 May 2012
ARAMEX, from everyone in Ouazzaniyat, THANK YOU!
Dar Lil-Kul Farraha received a good number of children and discovery books, tables and chairs, sets of bookshelves, and other goods that were donated from Dubai to furnish the center, and make it a warm and cosy place for everyone in Farraha, Trachla and Ouled Allal to explore, search, and learn.
From the very beginning of this shipping adventure (when the means are so little, any trip becomes an unforgettable adventure!), ARAMEX was supportive, finding us the best prices, advising us on the processes, directing us upon arrival in the maze of moroccan customs in the port of Casablanca, encouraging us not to lose hope! And it all finally got here.
THANK YOU for your support, your time, your solutions!
You helped us enormously and we are very grateful!
THE NEW CENTER IS OPENED!
18 February 2012
As many as 30 to 40 children come on a daily basis, and that is much more then we'd expected. Some children walk close to 7km to reach us.
This is not a school. It's a center that aims at supporting school. A center where children can find educational games, books, and a calm environment to do their homework and get the help they need.
Our means are very small, and we cannot afford many teachers. Besides, I heard of an extraordinary model school in Russia, called the Kin School where the children were in charge of everything, from admin and management, to teaching and cleaning. They are trusted, empowered and responsible. The teachers are the older children to the younger ones. Children, they say, learn better from children. Maybe it's in the way knowledge is transmitted.
So this is the system we are trying to set up gradually. It's very new to everyone here but we need to make it happen for two clear reasons:
The most obvious one is financial sustainability: We cannot allow ourselves to have high running costs.
The other reason, definitely more important: The children, leaders of tomorrow's world.
At school we are taught to be passive learners. Growing up, we accept the obstacles like a fact of life and surround easily. What about adult life?
Empowering children and teaching them how to be responsible leaders is more important then knowledge itself.
The official opening is May 6th, International Permaculture Day.
ELECTRICITY, AT LAST!
15 February 2012
And it works very well too! It's also installed in a safe place away from the children, the panels are well screwed on the roof to sustain the virulent winter winds, we have enough power for 5 laptops, a TV-DVD and of course all the lights.
To many, this seems like a no-need-to-mention kind of statement especially after an agreement is reached. But to many others, it's not. And this adventure turned into a high tension electrifying story that we are glad to know over. Hopefully we'll have light for many years to come!
Water was another issue that we only recently resolved. This year rain water is extremely scarce all over the country, as opposed to last year when it rained 3000mm in the area. The summer is expected to be long and hot!
Being 500 m away from the main municipal water pipes made this a hard decision to take. Not only the cost was an obstacle, but we had to dig through our neighbor's land as well.
Now and even though we have water for our newly planted orange and apricot trees, still our wish is to harvest rainwater.
On the land, we are digging basins and berms to "plant" the water that might fall hopefully from now until May...
ON THE LAND...
04 January 2012
For almost a month now, Edwina has been browsing around the land, trying to figure out all its secrets:
from wind, rain, testing the soil and checking out the weeds, to identifying local patterns, plants and ancestral farming traditions, insects, and animals grazing...
To the surprise of the local farmers, Edwina is British, blonde, educated and loves working on the land rather then in an office!
Edwina is a Permaculture designer and a teacher who has decided to take part in this project. She will be coming and going regularly, making sure each step of the design is carried out in the right way.
'Azzedine is a local farmer who is responsible for the center's land. He is being trained on Permaculture ideas and ways of farming.
The first step is to improve the soil and catch the water. Legumes are being sowed on contour, mulch is being applied, compost heaps are being made, pathways are being defined and children are finally understanding that we are not creating a football field!
The difficult part is to find manure as the farmers use it around their olive trees.
Mid February we'll start planting some fruit and leguminous trees around the land, and we'll slash and drop the peas and chickpeas that are being planted now.
Vanda and Kiara
12 November 2011
Vanda and Kiara are two american volunteers that decided to come to Faraha to give english classes to the children for a month and a half, to share what they know, and receive other views and ways of life, and lot's of appreciation from the children and from us! Thank you!
They do this through various activities and touch different themes that vary from local traditions to compost making! Vanda and Kiara are very creative, and there is a lot of singing and dancing going on!
The idea is to spark the children's curiosity.
How much the children learn doesn't matter as much as how much they want to learn, and how much they learn how to learn.
This is the objective of the center, and of having Vanda and Kiara here with us.
BMS, THANK YOU!
15 November 2011
To the British Moroccan Society:
On behalf of Ouazzaniyat, I would like to thank you for your generous gift of MAD 13 000.
This gesture is more than a year’s salary of one of our facilitators; it is a great statement of hope that acknowledges publicly our initiative, convincing us even more to pursue our efforts in making a difference in the province of Ouezzane, for its children and the rural communities.
Our goal is for the center to be sustainable soon by slowly introducing permaculture on the site. “Permaculture is a whole design science that is reflective of natural patterns and promotes beneficial relationships. Rooted in ethics, the concepts and themes in Permaculture help us rediscover how to be a positive contribution to the earth, ourselves and humanity.” So we can recreate abundant eco-systems on eroded land in a short span and reconciliate with “mother nature” and the land that feeds us.
We have a choice: the possibilities can be here also, and not always there.
When this succeeds, with the help of donations from supporters, we aim at replicating this system across the province of Ouazzane.
Thanks again for your support.
Construction of our new center: Dar Lil-Kul Faraha (literally: “House for all”)
11 August 2011
When we opened the first center in January 2010, we were rapidly taken by surprise by the number of children that came. Whether they needed some help and support on their homework from our facilitator, Abdelillah, or just wanted to read a book, or play a game, the center was too small to accommodate everybody.
So we decided to buy a piece of land and construct a bigger one. What an adventure!
A year later, we are proud to announce that it is almost finished, and our intention is to move in as soon as the solar panels are installed and other small adjustments are done.
In parallel to the building works, we are also focusing on the land around it. The idea is to convert this bare eroded unproductive soil into an abundant food forest by applying permaculture design.
Permaculture is based on 3 simple and clear ethics:
Care of the people, care of the land and fair share.
We want to create a system that is self-reliant and completely sustainable, so the center doesn’t depend on external aid, but on itself.
The intention is simply to remind ourselves that we are part of the land and that we depend on it.
But it needs us to care for it to give!
Nature’s presents today will help our children tomorrow. So let’s be grateful, let’s care!