2011 Field Work Begins

I arrived in Zawiya Ahansal, Morocco a few days ago to oversee the field work for the next three months. The first week or two in country is always busy with administration and paperwork. Yesterday we solidified an official partnership agreement between Atlas Cultural Foundation and the local association Amezray SMNID. Atlas Cultural Foundation is an American NGO that was formed last winter to manage and house the philanthropic work of Erickson Creative Group in Morocco. ACF is a registered 501c(3) non-profit project under the umbrella of Adirondack Sustainable Communities, Inc. Amezray SMNID will act as the local representative of the people and will also be able to collaborate and communicate with our Moroccan Ministry partnerships in the absence of ACF staff. Today we signed an agreement with the owners of the Amezray Igherm to begin construction of the library and community room portion of the project. We also began discussion about the initial management of the library and training of young men and women to become the eventual librarians. We finished the restoration of the building in the Fall of 2010 and will now focus our efforts on the construction of the library. We hope to complete the construction this spring and finish the interior in Fall of 2011. Youssef Jini, the gate keeper for the igherm, was very excited about starting the next phase of the project. “This project is for the next generation,” he said. “It is for our children and the future of Zawiya Ahansal.” In addition, this spring we plan to begin the restoration of a second igherm in the village of Aguddim. The Moroccan Ministry of Culture will be paying for the restoration of this building and will send a project contractor and architect to meet with me. ACF will act as the on-site manager of this restoration. We are continuing discussions with the locals about the best use for this building; some of the ideas are a preschool or women’s birthing center. Genevieve Chabot, a representative from the Global Midwife Education Foundation, will visit us in May. She will accompany Youssef Oulcadi, the president of Amezray SMNID, and myself on a trip to Rabat to visit the Moroccan Ministry of Health with the hopes of securing the necessary permissions to begin the Midwife Training Program. During this trip to Rabat we will also meet with officials at the Moroccan Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education. All programs and projects are progressing well and the spring is shaping up to be fruitful.

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