Dar Taliba girls share local know-how and plant knowledge with international students

By Pommelien da Silva Cosme, Mediterranean Programme and Communications Coordinator

After a well-deserved summer break, we’re so excited to report that the Dar Taliba students are back! What’s more, the boarding school is at its full capacity this school year, with a total of 153 students currently in residence and 50 other girls still on the waiting list.

To kick off the beginning of the school year, we organised an exciting exchange at Dar Taliba with a group of 18 Semester at Sea (SAS) university students. This group of international students participated in a field programme in Morocco to learn more about local biodiversity and indigenous Amazigh communities in the High Atlas. As part of this programme, they spent one day at Dar Taliba participating in a weekly garden training with the students in residence. This exchange was aimed at empowering the Dar Taliba girls and encouraging them to share their experiences and transmit their knowledge and skills with a group of students they would usually not have the opportunity to interact with.

Photo by Laila Suzuki

In mixed groups, the SAS students learned about composting, creating liquid organic fertiliser and seed collection practices. As you can see from the pictures below, they quickly put theory into practice, following the Dar Taliba’s students’ example.

Finally, they all participated in a fun quiz on essential oils, where they had to “smell and guess” the plant from which the essential oil was extracted. I’m sure you can imagine the Dar Taliba students impressed our quiz master and SAS students; after all, they spent so much time working with these plants during last year’s garden trainings.

We are super proud of the Dar Taliba girls for sharing their local know-how and skills with the Semester at Sea students, and for practicing their English while doing so!  “We really hope to organise more exchanges of this kind in the future”, Dar Taliba director Fatima said. “The encouraging words of the SAS students about the importance of education and the interest they showed in the culture and lives of the Dar Taliba girls in general has given us so much energy and motivation to continue and enhance our school garden project!”.

Since the exchange, the girls have started their weekly trainings with the support of our local partner and permaculture experts from Radiant Design. Last week, they planted lots of vegetables including carrots, beans, peas, turnips and much more. The girls also learned mulching techniques, during which layers of organic material are applied to the surface of the soil. They learned that mulching helps to retain water in order to keep the roots moist. It also improves the soil’s structure and helps regulate its temperature.

We can’t wait to move forward with our garden trainings and introduce our new students to the programme! Do follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates.

This article was first published as an update for our Benefit 700 Moroccan girls through school gardens project on GlobalGiving. Photos by Pommelien da Silva Cosme unless otherwise indicated.