Monthly Archives: October 2013
"In September 2013 I conducted an internship at the High Atlas Foundation, one of the organizations in the 14km volunteer programme. 14km had facilitated the contact and position according to my preferences and the environment-related degree I study in Austria. After two days working and volunteering in the office of the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in Marrakech I got the opportunity to spend three weeks in Amsouzerte which is located in the Tifnout Valley of the High Atlas Mountains, close to Mount Toubkal and Lake Ifni. At my arrival it was dark and I could not see where I was. So I had to wait until the next morning to see the picturesque valley with a river paving its way through, passing vegetated terraces, trees ready for the harvest and the clay made houses of the region - all of it surrounded by rocky mountains. But not only that; I also realized that I am going to stay here in this beautiful area for the next three weeks speaking no word of Tashelhyt, Arabic or French. This could only become an exciting cross-cultural stay, which is what I asked for! On the first day El Mahjoub, the head of the family I was living with, showed me around the village. He introduced me to a dozen people and after came the same amount of invitations for tea. Fatima then showed up; she is HAF's community planning facilitator and supports the organic agricultural project. She was the one who watched out for me. At the moment she is responsible for 48 villages in the area and very busy with the certification of walnut and almond trees. The first week Fatima tried to give me a few insights into her work. Every morning after breakfast Fatima also gave me some lessons in Tashelhyt, before we went to visit some villages, project sites or people to meet. So, I was quite well prepared for my stay. This was the time when communication became interesting; especially with the older men, it took me a while until we were able to interact with eachother, not only sitting there in silence. Out of these difficulties some made up stories arose, spreading very fast around the whole village. One was that I am the son of Yossef, the President of the Foundation who had spent some time in the area in the 1990s as a Peace Corps Volunteer. With the younger generation it was quite easy to talk. They had patience, curiosity, were not afraid of ridiculous situations and were happy teachers too. Mohammed was one of them. He drives a very old French Berliet truck and is employed by El Mahjoub. During the second week he was so kind to take me with him to his work. We started early in the morning, driving in the river bed. We had to get soil, hidden between many different sized stones onto the truck. Then it was time to get back onto the truck, heading on narrow dirt roads into the mountains, where the terrain drops down steeply, to deliver the load. That was the time when I slowly got a bit of an insight into people's daily life. It consists of a lot of physical work and the roles are strictly allocated whereupon you don't exactly know whose part the harder one is. While the women are busy with cooking, caring for the kids and the households, the men are dealing with cutting wood, construction work and other labor, often assisted by mules or donkeys. Mohammed was also the one who introduced me in the secret of preparing the well known mint tea, also called Moroccan Whisky, consisting of one-third of sugar, which can be a real spectacle/show. In the evening I met with the guys to play football, or went up the mountains to witness the sunsetting, throwing a nice light onto the valley and its villages, where Amsouzerte is the nicest one of all, having the most beautiful landscape with a lot of green vegetation. When the HAF's Vice President arrived, we examined tree nurseries, had a look at some other sites were HAF is working and talk to people who are responsible for monitoring the quality of the trees. Even with little language skills, it was very interesting for me to get a better understanding of the Foundation's approach. And suddenly the last days of this wonderful stay came. But it was not the end yet. Fatima had some impressive moments to share, when we helped the women collecting walnuts and when she took me to a remote village where she showed me the lives of a very old couple that had to live separated, due to illness. Finally I had to leave this place where everyone is welcome and where everybody takes care of you without knowing you and your background, your attitude and work, and without a common language; a place where you don't know what would happen in the next minute or what the next day would bring." The published reports by interns/volunteers on their internships facilitated by 14km e.V. do not necessarily reflect the opinion of 14km e.V. or its partners.
Last Thursday 14km e.V. successfully conducted the fourth evening of our Arab Film and Discussion Series. We were happy to welcome around 70 participants for our film evening on Jordan, of which 30 came as part of a German-Jordanian student exchange (organised by Bürger Europas e.V. with the support of the German Foreign Office). In the cosy atmosphere of stove-heated Filmrauschpalast cinema inside the Kulturfabrik in Berlin Moabit we screened the film “Recycle” which tells the story of an ex jihadist who lives in one of the poorest areas of the Jordanian city Zarqa. He collects waste-paper in order to make a living for himself and his family – difficult circumstances in which religion is an important foothold for him. But the lack of social and economic prospects and permanent setbacks drive him to the brink of desperation. After the screening the film was lively discussed by the present Jordanians, especially with regards to the question whether the film characters and their lives are representative for the Jordanian society or not. The following panel talk and the audience discussion with the guest speakers Hanna Al-Taher and Dima Al-Kuttu focused on the one hand on Jordan as an immigration country and current target of numerous refugees from Syria, and on the other hand on social and political transformations in the country since 2005 and 2011. The event was presented by Anja Gebel (14km e.V.). We cordially thank all participants for the interest and vivid participation, and the Filmrauschpalast team for the excellent preparation and technical support!
On the occasion of the « project week Africa » in the Sancta Maria school (Berlin Zehlendorf), 14km had the pleasure to bring a school class closer to the Egyptian society through various stories, activities and information. The teachers Sabrina Rückert and Rosaly Bautzer involved 14km in the conception of the programme and welcomed with their students Anja Gebel, the program manager of 14km, as well as Johanna Kramer, intern at 14km, on the second day of the project week. That day of the project week was about the Arab writing, Egyptian food, the traditional Islamic Feast of Sacrifice (عيد الأضحى), the Egyptian revolution, the lives of children of wealthy families and of children in need (the so-called "street children"), and about the work of social organizations in Egypt and Germany, which stand up among other things for Egyptian children in need. The highlight of the day was a Skype talk with the Children At Risk Center of New Horizon Association for Social Development (NHASD), while the students had the opportunity to communicate with Egyptian young people in the Centre by video, microphone and chat (Omar Sadek, who participates in the 14km internship program and who is currently in Egypt making his internship, translated the conversations). After the students ate together during the break Arabic pita bread with hummus, couscous and vegetables as well as date cookies and drunk Egyptian hibiscus tea, they had the idea to start 2 days later a sale of Egyptian products during the break at school and to donate the revenue to the Children At Risk Center of NHASD in Egypt. They earned € 118.66 and €35 was also donated by an association. NHASD thanks very much the students for the great donation for the Children At Risk Center - 14km thanks the students for the great day and their great interest and commitment !