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In Morocco difference is a strength

Morocco's belief in the strength of pluralism has energized me and shown me that difference can serve as a strength for any country, whether it is religious or secular, large or small, developed or developing.
I was told that there are spiritual answers to the question, “Why Morocco?”—every person has a story to explain why they are in this country. The hospitality, emphasis on community, and religious practice are only a few of the reasons Moroccans and visitors have provided. While personal narratives and my own experience have intertwined to affirm this point, so do the tenants of community and participatory development that I have witnessed as an intern at the High Atlas Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to local initiatives that community beneficiaries determine and manage.
My first week in Morocco, after traveling toward the Amazigh village of Akrich, we stopped at a tree nursery. The seemingly small plot of pomegranate and fig saplings is the backdrop to a linkage of cultural cooperation. While Jewish pilgrims visit the mausoleum of Rabbi Raphael Hacohen year after year, a Muslim man, Abderrahim Beddah, serves as the caretaker of the land. This relationship helps the High Atlas Foundation engage a women’s cooperative in the neighboring village. Initiatives are interconnected.
Now these multicultural nurseries are receiving government support. The National Initiative for Human Development has provided land-assessments to monitor the viability of an organic fruit tree nursery near the mausoleum of Rabbi David-Ou-Moshe in the Ourzazate province. They will begin implementing a project that will generate more than one-million trees over five years.
Sustainable development was created through, and continues to depend on, interfaith partnerships. If Beddah did not share the story of Jews crying on the journey to visit their saint and express his deep appreciation for their faith, then this partnership would be unlikely. However, the investment Moroccans make when they support their neighbors is a testament to development that depends on pluralism.
This concept resurfaced in a new friendship. The Ministry in Charge of Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs - in cooperation with the Association of Friends of the Jewish Museum - fund to bring Jewish people with Moroccan heritage back to discover their roots, meet government and religious leaders, and encourage local investment.
The High Atlas Foundation interns were invited to attend a shabbat dinner during the program for these Moroccan-Jews, and it was at that dinner that my observations were confirmed. I met a woman who has grown up in France, but her parents were from Agadir, Morocco. This was the first time she traversed the site of her great-great-grandparents’ graves and engaged with her heritage. We got to talking about religious coexistence and respect. She put it quite simply—“in Morocco, Jews and Muslims are first Moroccan. They live well together because their identity is placed in the fact that they are neighbors.” She told me she believed that allegiance should be first to one’s country and then to religion, at least in how it is outwardly expressed. We both agreed that country needs to be respected…humanity needs to be respected.
Pluralism is a framework written into Morocco’s foundational documents. Development requires all parties, faiths, and populations of Morocco. I have seen this visiting a women’s cooperative where dialogue and decision making are priorities. I have seen this in visiting the grave of a venerated Jewish saint, guarded by a Muslim.  I have seen this in the logistical processes that allow for the purchasing of carbon credits and maintenance of olive, walnut, and carob farms.
In 2008, King Mohammed VI announced a vision for Morocco in which “culture serves as a driving force for development as well as a bridge for dialogue.” Moroccans are stepping up to the plate, imagining and wrestling to manifest this vision. The country’s potential should serve as an example. But we must not forget that there are villages still plagued by diarrhea, girls not in school, and trees left uplanted. These examples remind us that although potential is not lacking, resources are forever necessary. Volunteers should never back down in fear of not doing enough. Passion for understanding others, learning a new language, or living immersed in a beautiful expression of religion should be motivation to bring you to Morocco. Finding or supporting organizations like the High Atlas Foundation is integral to this vision.
My spiritual explanation to “Why Morocco?” has come to rest in my hope for this pluralistic and collaborative future of development. Creating cooperatives, living together, and working toward a common goal or vision is very “Moroccan.” But it is also very “human.” I wonder how life would look if other countries began to call for pluralistic-driven development in their constitutions, laws, policies, and institutions? 

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Caroline Kirk's picture

Caroline Kirk is a third year student at the University of Virginia. She spent the summer of 2019 interning at the High Atlas Foundation, working on interfaith and multicultural initiatives.

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Why child trafficking again and again!

7 Nov 2017 - 8:39pm | AT Kokrajhar Bureau

Assam has registered the highest number of child trafficking cases during the 2015 along with the highest rate of incidence(11.2) and highest percentage contribution of 37.7% to the all India total.

A one-day zonal level sensitization workshop with special focus on child trafficking was held at Science College auditorium in Kokrajhar,which was organised by Assam state commission for protection of child rights(ASCPCR).

Hundreds of participants from government official,NGO organiser,police officer and citizens from BTAD districts  participated the workshop.

Dr Sunita Changkakati, chairperson of Assam state commission for protection of child rights ligthed the lsmp to insugurste the workshop.

Human trafficking is the most despicable form of human violation of human rights. Human trafficking has been a recognised crime and considered to be one of the largest crimes all over the world which is difficult to be numbered because of its hidden nature.

In BTAD districts, many childrens were rescued by police in association with NGOs from different areas from Delhi,Siliguri,Mumbai,who were trafficked by traffickers on many occasions.

 Dr Changkakati told that Assam has been tops in trafficking, which is the anlysis of the data recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB).

She said the number of cases registered under trafficking  had been increased from 330 in 2014 to 1317 in 2015, in which the number of trafficked girl child is more than the boy child across from 2012 to 2015.However, there has been rescue operations and a total of 911 children were found and rescued in the year 2015.

She has emphasized of the eradication of child trfaficked in the state said that the state commission has been taking stern measures through organising sensitization workshop involving all government offcial,community mobilizattion in the state.

‘Child trafficking is the violation of human rights and crime’,said Biren Chandra Phukan,BTC Principal Secretary. He said that state government has been initiating to eradicate the child trafficking in the state with stern measures.

Rajen Singh, SP Kokrajhar while participating the sensitization workshop said, ‘Extremist violence is the great problem in Kokrajhar district and its adjoining areas. Society has been suffering a lot from extremism, communal clash in the district’,he said.

Awareness among social, police officer and NGO organisers are very much needed to end human trafficking.
Shankar Brata Raimedhu, Chirang SP said trafficking means movement of persons. Trafficking only starts from violation of human rights.He has urged social community to be alertness while checking human trafficked in the state.


Niranjan Baruah,Kokrajhar Deputy Commissioner,Rahila Brahma,BTC Secretary were prominent speakers on the child trafficking issues that has been becoming an issue in the state.

Happy to represent Assam

28 Jan 2014 - 6:33pm | AT News

Rajya Sabha poll candidate Dr Sanjay Singh said that he would be happy if he is given a chance to represent Assam in the Rajya Sabha.

Talking to reporters in the Assam Assembly secretariat after filing his nomination as the first choice candidate, Dr Singh said  that he would always raise his voice in the Rajya on behalf of Assam and its people. 

Summit stresses mass participation

29 Mar 2015 - 10:58am | Chong Hmar

Awareness building and leader’s roundtable discussion on approaches to the demand of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum (IPF) of N.C. Hills and challenges simultaneously, with a particular focus on Bifurcation of N.C. Hills district was held at Haflong on March 27.

The meeting was attended by 120 delegates from different IPF communities of the district. The meeting also discusses the indigenous rights and issues relating to the minorities concern of the district and how the growing interest of the IPF demand for bifurcation and total opposition of the proposed wild-life sanctuary would be set in motion and suitable mechanism to address ethnic minorities ’ aspirations against their struggle from the dominance of the majority.

The meeting also decries the poor state of affairs of the district and the indifferent attitude of the district administration in failing to provide the basic day-to-day necessities like water, health and sanitation. The meeting observed that the elected representatives seems to have forgotten the people mandate they have received and their empty promises in the election manifestos is being projected now in its true form. Their inefficiency and pathetic style of administration seems to have broken all form of records. The meeting deemed the district administration “fit for nothing”.

The meeting finally reiterates the need for fullswing programs and plans along with mass participation as well as the need to gain access to more regional, national and international mechanism for final justice against the shimmering discontent amongst the masses of the district.