Tighassaline is a small community of 12,000 people, located in the Mid-Atlas Mountains in the middle of Morocco. A majority of the community is employed by the agriculture sector but the region is known for high rates of prostitution. Nearby is Boumia. a mid-size, fairly rural community of about 30,000. Boumia is very underdeveloped and faces problems related to illiteracy, unemployment, prostitution, crime, and lack of sufficient medical care. Midelt is a larger community totaling between 50,000-60,000 people and is snuggled between the Mid & High-Atlas Mountains. While the population of this site is larger, the reality is the youth are leaving Midelt to seek educational opportunities in metropolitan areas throughout the country. These three communities all have limited community and economic development opportunities available for youth.
The goal of this project is to complete an outdoor leadership program with underprivileged youth that incorporates excursions and leadership building activities. Youth from Tighassaline, Boumia and Midelt will engage in educational sessions, discussions and excursions to help foster personal growth, leadership skills, survival skills, and appreciation of the natural environment. The three communities will connect as a team and embark on a total of five hikes, culminating in trekking the highest mountain in North Africa, Mount Toubkal. In addition to the hikes, students will participate in six environmental service projects, such as creating gardens and installing trash cans in their respective communities. Students will also form youth-led Environment Clubs to help motivate their communities. This project seeks to build the capacity for leadership and development opportunities for youth in Morocco, while allowing them to explore the local topography of their community in a structured and educational setting.
The CLIMB participants are engaged in weekly environmental classroom sessions and have gone on a few practice hikes. Each of their meetings has been focused on team work and environmental stewardship, and have covered a variety of topics, including local fauna and flora, conservation techniques, compost versus trash, team building, trust exercises, and leadership activities. Two former CLIMB participants have returned as peer leaders, offering them an invaluable leadership position and an opportunity to be a role model for younger students. The communities are very supportive of the CLIMB groups, and local organizations have offered both technical and financial support. The students are preparing for their final hike, which will take place at the end of July, 2015.
"This project is a good way to teach our youth about the environment, and make them interested and care for the environment. In Morocco, we have a problem with rubbish- people don't know that it hurts nature. The youth can help change it. And our groups are interested in making a difference." - Hanan, Project Leader