Beautiful City Project : Taza, Morocco

The second project at my site came together through a connection I facilitated between TOMZIT (http://tomzit.jimdo.com/)a local tourism association based in Taza, and Rustic Pathways (http://www.rusticpathways.com/) an American­based service learning tourism company.

Preparation for the project was intensive: it required securing paperwork and authorizations two months in advance of the project start date with the help of Mohammad Harakati, president of TOMZIT, and my husband.

I was excited to bring in a local Moroccan English teacher and have her students take part in the project, learn about the concept of service learning, and share culture with the group participating through Rustic Pathways.

I functioned as a facilitator of communication, culture, photo journalist, work scheduler, and site security. The work of our project continued the urban restoration and beautification that began five years prior in another part of the Old Medina of Taza ­ Derb Sultan.

Der Sultan was spearheaded by the local association ­ Espace Action Volontaire. My husband and his friends were volunteers during this first project. It was during this project that they first heard the idea of the “Beautiful City,” and decided Taza IS a beautiful city that could be only benefit from restoration and beautification.

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Derb Sultan in progress

They helped get supplies donated and worked on restoring, cleaning and painting Derb Sultan. In addition to painting Derb Sultan blue, lights were installed, plants potted in vases and planters, and an informal art gallery was set up on the walls.

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Many residents who lived on the street and individuals from all parts of the Old Medina of Taza pitched in and helped work on the project.

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The finished product of Derb Sultan
People just walking by joined in the work for the time they had even if it was just a few minutes. The residents of the street were really happy and pleased with the results. It increased the residents pride in living on Derb Sultan.

So when I was approached by John from Rustic Pathways to think of a project in Taza I knew the local Moroccans would know what type of a project would benefit the community of Taza. I called a couple of people and out of several meetings sprang ­ The Beautiful City: Taza Phase 2.

 

The project work actually started a few days before June 2nd, the day when the group from Zurich International School arrived with Rustic Pathways staff.

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First day of the Project

First day of the Project

The work on the project included painting, cement work, planting plants and creating murals as well as the installation of lighting. The project theme was “I Love Taza.”

The local nursery/preschool came to the work site to visit and AbdelHaqq gave a tour explaining the work.

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The local nursery/preschool came to the work site to visit and AbdelHaqq gave a tour explaining the work

On day three we stopped work and travelled to the National Park Tazekka, Bab Boudir, and the local waterfall.

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Visiting the waterfall

Visiting the waterfall

ON the last day of the project we rented formal traditional Moroccan outfits for the girls from the Zurich International School and the boys purchased traditional Moroccan outfits and wore them to the final meal and dance party/goodbye.

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The final day of the project

The project was a success ­ it was completed within budget and the community came out, really supported the work being done and had positive reactions. The improvement to the area increased locals making a point to walk through and socialize in the area.

The project has also sparked a renovation on a different street in the Old Medina to paint and clean their shared public space. In my opinion, this is the biggest success ­ when other people see volunteers do a project and then desire the result ­ and they decide to make it happen for themselves in their own area.

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