ACF President launches blog for research time in Morocco

Erickson and daughter, Noor, in Morocco.

Cloe Medina Erickson, ACF President, has received a research grant from the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. Erickson will spend 10 months in Morocco researching cultural preservation in Morocco’s rural regions. Erickson’s research will complement ACF’s cultural preservation initiative by building off our past lessons and projects and preparing us for a new era in preservation in rural Morocco.

Follow along with ACF President, Erickson, on her research journey. Erickson will be posting regularly to a blog that will chronicle her journey doing research, community development in rural Morocco with her three year old daughter in tow. Keep up on her research, the goings on of the Atlas Cultural Foundation and personal insights into spending 10 months in Morocco.

Follow the blog here:

Thank you AIMS!
Erickson’s Research Abstract:
Conservation of Morocco’s Rural Built Heritage: A Non-Renewable Resource at Risk in the Face of Emerging Rural Development. An emergence of rural development has put Morocco’s deteriorating traditional and historic earth and stone buildings at risk of complete loss in favor of quick and easy construction being built to house this development. Meanwhile, Morocco’s rural communes are being challenged to find a balance between their traditional cultural identity and the unavoidable demand to become a viable force in their modernizing country. Morocco’s historic fortified granaries, kasbahs, and vernacular architecture hold a plethora of untapped potential for preserving the traditional culture and simultaneously supporting sustainable community and economic development. Cultural heritage is a non-renewable resource and if the historical buildings are lost, part of the cultural identity and heritage of Morocco will be lost with them.This research will be invaluable to the parallel advancement of the conservation of Morocco’s rural built heritage and community and economic development. It will contribute a vital component that has been missing: research and outreach about the planning, implementation, partnerships, and long-term management of the conservation projects.

Peaks Foundation partners with ACF.

In April, Peaks Foundation visited ACF in Zawiya Ahansal to discuss potential partnereship, see ACF work and discover the region where we work.  After four days of visiting with locals, trekking to the villages that ACF supports and a lot of brainstorming a new partnership was formed. Peaks Foundation organizes global mountain challenges for women who seek adventure, a sense of personal achievement, and an opportunity to make a positive difference in the world. Peaks supports and empowers women and girls in communities where the challenges take place, through initiatives such as education, maternal healthcare and community-led conservation. Peaks will organize two trips every year to Zawiya Ahansal, the first is scheduled for April 28 to May 6, 2011.  Sign up here.

Moroccan Ministry of Culture partnership approval!

I am very pleased to announce that the Moroccan Ministry of Culture has approved our partnership proposal. They have agreed to fund the restoration of a second igherm in the region (there are eight historic igherms). Work on this igherm will begin in April of 2011. The community is currently deciding on the best use for this igherm and is contemplating renovating it into a preschool or women’s birthing center. Either of these uses will compliment the library in the Amezray igherm.
The partnership from the Ministry means that as an organization all of our fundraising dollars will go directly to the uses within these historic buildings and to the management and operation costs of the development projects. The actual restoration will be funded by the Moroccan government.
“The ighrems (fortified granaries and saints’ houses) in Zawiya Ahansal have a great value and give beauty to the whole region because they are old historical monuments. “The igherms are our future and through them we can create future projects. They are everything, we don’t have anything else.”
Ahmed Amahdar, the Sheikh of Zawiya Ahansal.

Project expands to include women’s and newborn health initiative.

Over the past six years I have had the opportunity to work intimately with
locals on the Igherm Restoration Project in the remote region of Zawiya
Ahansal, Morocco.  We have successfully restored one of the region’s eight
igherms (fortified granaries) and are in the initial phases of two more
restorations through the generosity of American Donors and partnerships
with the Moroccan Ministry of Culture and the local community association
Amezray SMNID.

The initial goals of the Igherm Restoration Project were to preserve the
region’s cultural heritage, through the restoration of their igherms, and
increase literacy rates in the region and supplement the inadequate
government education through the establishment of community education
projects within the restored igherms.  Through our work other community
needs have come to light that are too great to ignore, especially that of
women’s and newborn’s health.
Rural Morocco has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates
in the developing world.  This is due to many circumstances, including
remoteness, traditional beliefs and distance from clinics and hospitals.
Partnering with the Global Midwife Education Foundation,, we are currently in Morocco establishing a
program that will train 8 to 12 traditional birth attendants in 2011.
These birth attendants, along with a newly establishment government
clinic, will ultimately serve the region’s population of over 10,000
This initiative compliments the goals of preserving the region?s cultural
heritage and decreasing illiteracy and will brighten the future of young
women such as Saadiya.
Saadiya’s bright eyes reflect the energy and innocence of a 17 year old.
She lives in the village of Aguddim; with a population of just over 1000
people it is one of the largest villages within 100 kilometers.

Saadiya giggles when she mentions her engagement to a
young man from Ouarzazate.  Ouarzazate lies just over the rugged Atlas
Mountains to the east and is a big city in her eyes; it has hotels,
schools and even a hospital.  She will get married when she turns 18, the
youngest legal age for marriage in Morocco.
She is able to read and write only a little due to her third grade
education.  She desperately wanted to continue her schooling but
sacrificed her education because her family needed her at home to help
with field work, house work and her two younger sisters.
At this point in life she will probably never accomplish her hope of
higher education but because she has the rare opportunity to marry a man
from the “city” she will have an opportunity most women from Aguddim never
will, to give birth in a hospital.

“I am afraid to die in childbirth,” she admits.

Living the High Life

MSU grads use talents to help develop community in mountainous Morocco. 

“Just as Cloe Medina Erickson, ’00 M Arch,, has always known that it was her destiny to work in Morocco, Kris Erickson, ’97 Photo, has known that he was made to climb mountains.
The two have found a way to combine their passions by helping villagers restore an ancient building located in a remote and mountainous area of Morocco.”  MSU Collegian, Spring 2010 Issue

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