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Ait ourir city has become one of my favorite destinations. Not only because of the beautiful mountains it is surrounded by, or that delicious food they serve up there, and or the simplicity and kindness of the people living there, but also because it is one of the best places where people can go to learn and grow. It is a place where I feel loved and get inspired to spread love too.
Lucky me! I was given the opportunity to travel there again last week for five days to be part of Youth Environmental Bootcamp held by AFCD Foundation, and in partnership with Heinrich Böll Stiftung. The bootcamp was a chance to learn more about the environmental issues, and dig bit deeper in the waste management problematic in Ait Ourir city.
On the first day, the participants were split into 5 groups which were made of 5, or 6 members. As a matter of fact, this was the most interesting part of it all. I mean, to meet with people for the first time and no matter how different we all are, we had to connect and work as a coherent team to develop and pitch a project that helps solving the waste management problematic, is definitely one of the greatest achievements during the bootcamp.
Even though most of the participants did have an entrepreneurship mindset, or worked on projects with other NGOs, which means that they are already familiar with how projects work, yet there were very many important workshops where they got the chance to refresh their minds, practice again, and get inspired.
was an introduction to learn about everything and everyone. The organizing committee began the bootcamp with greeting everyone, introducing the AFCD Foundation and their partner HBS and gave a general talk about the bootcamp and its objectives. The participants played an icebreaker right after that to create some sort of connection. Then, they got to learn about the environmental issues in Ait Ourir with Mr. Younes, the general secretary at the local commune. Later, it was a free time for the five teams to learn more about themselves and brainstorm about the project ideas they want to work on.
 was started with teams pitching what they decided to work on. The project ideas the participants came up with targeted Rising Awareness, and or collecting and sorting the waste. Later, the participants had a meeting with a powerful young entrepreneur, Fatima Zahrae El Baguaj, who has just started her own business; a coworking space in Meknes city. Her story was very inspiring. She facilitated a workshop on BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS, which the participants had to apply on own data. After launch, the participants got the chance to meet one of the best young leaders a person should meet, Ajrinija Mohammed, who facilitated an insightful workshop on DESIGN THINKING.
 like usual, teams had to pitch their projects every morning with the information they were taught applied. Then, comes a meeting with Oumaima Khalil Elfanne with whom the participants got to learn the implementation of the SEEI in their projects– SEEI refers to Social, Environmental, Economic Impact. Later, the participants had the opportunity to pitch their projects in front of the USA consul Mr. Lawrence Randolph, who was loved the project ideas and gave to the teams critical and positive feedbacks. After launch, Soulaimane El Mimouni, an amazing young man with a beautiful fun spirit, facilitated a workshop about the SWOT analysis, which people should learn, master and apply in their personal lives as well.
after the morning pitch, Anass Mouatik, an inspiring storyteller shared his story throughout the participants had the chance to learn more about DIGITAL MARKETING, GRAPHIC DESIGN and their importance. At the afternoon, the participants got to learn about BUDGETING and SPONSORSHIPS in a workshop facilitated by, one of the most humble people I have ever met, Kamal Akaya , the president of AFCD Foundation.
comes the final pitch. Each team was given 5min to pitch their final projects in front of the jury which consists of two members from the AFCD Foundation and the general secretary at the local commune. At the afternoon, comes the time to announce the winning project which will be developed and implemented in the near future in Ait Ourir in partnership with the local authorities.
The wining project is titled ” Ait Tadweer ” and guess what? YEAH, it’s my team’s project. We were the winners yaay 💪
So, allow me please to tell you a little bit about this inspiring team. Our story is really worth sharing. The team was made of two young men and three awesome beautiful young ladies. Two YY, two SS and one M; Yahiya from Marrakesh and Yusra from Temara. Soad from Sale and Soukaina from Kenitra, and finally Mohcine, which is me, from Azilal.
To be honest, it was the best team I’ve ever worked with. Our story is really really crazy, yet so inspiring. On day one, we brainstormed and decided what to work on. But while learning about the models and instructions we had to follow for the pitching, the work started getting bit more challenging. There were so many imperfect times; times of arguing, times disagreements, times of feeling down, times of feeling board. In fact, there was a time when the whole team members felt so down to a level where everyone was about to give up.
At the evening and on the last pitch of day two, everyone could tell that all the other projects were going in progress and very well, while our project was going nowhere. *Economically speaking, we realized that the project was going to invest money three times more than what it going to be profiting. *Socially speaking, the project is a start of some sort of a war between the waste pickers and the people who will be leading the project. *And environmentally speaking, the project idea doesn’t really solve the waste management problematic. On day three morning, we prepared nothing. That feeling of comparing our project progress with other projects got us feel too low to a level where we didn’t want to do the morning pitch at all, however; we had to. Then, I was like: “Heeey, Let’s just play a show! Let’s get up there and improvise, and during the break time we set down and start over. And we will definitely come up with some cool this time.” Everyone liked the idea. In fact, for us, It was like a joke LoL!! For the first time we stood up walking to pitch and no one was feeling stressed. We were wearing our crescent moon smile, just the way it should always be. We received some negative feedbacks like usual at the end, but we kept on smiling. And we used to answer the feedbacks using one sentence: ” Thank you! We will work on that.” Later, during the break time, we had an assembly, we set down and we literally started over– FROM ZERO. The first thing, we agreed on is to be realistic. It’s nice to dream big, but it’s very important to keep your feet on the ground. The most challenging part was time, and looking at the other mates enjoying their free time, while we had to keep on working. On day four, we doubled the work especially at night time. We didn’t sleep until 4 am. We had to finalize the project file, come up with a marketing strategy and create a logo for the project. Later, Yahiya and I was in charge for creating the logo. And the girls were sharing us ideas and showing support. I do still remember that I asked them to go to sleep, and I’d take care of the logo, but Yusra, even though she was literally half dead, looked at me and said: ” No, we aren’t leaving until we get this, too, done. That’s what team work is!!” it’s no exaggerating if I say that such phrases can really keep me feeling energetic for two other nights without sleep. We agreed on a certain design. And while I was about to finish, the photoshop application was shut down and nothing was saved. The I had to lie, because I didn’t want them to feel down. I told them that it was done, so they could go to get some rest. Later, I spent some more alone till I got it done and went to sleep for less than three hours. We agreed we to wake up bit earlier to practice again. After breakfast, while we were really super tired, comes the time to pitch. We were standing up in front of the other participants and the judges so proud of ourselves and of the great work we had been doing. We presented our project. We answered the questions. Then we set back in our place. However, none of us was expecting to hear that we would be the winning team at the afternoon. After launch, while Kamal Akaya was saying a word just before he announces the winning team, my team was just happy and proud of the good work we did, and teamwork we had– That’s it! A few moments later, when we heard the title of our project, none of us could believe it. It was a very emotional moment, which is absolutely indescribable.
In addition to what the bootcamp was supposed to teach us, working within such an ambitious sacrificing team has taught me some really wise lessons.
*First, when we started comparing our work progress to other teams, we started losing motivation, and it only gave us extra stress. Therefore, a person should never ever compare their work to no one’s work, or themselves to anybody—because people are just not the same; the circumstances, the chances, the qualities, and even the time management is not the same. Sometimes, such an act can make people invisible to themselves. It would make them blind to see what they actually can do if they focus.
*Second, it’s never wrong or too late to start over. In fact, it is very important to know when do you have to stop and start over if you have to. I can relate this to Bernard’s quote when he says: “If your train is on the wrong track every station you come to is the wrong station.” Therefore, when you think you are on the wrong road, just stop and go back to point ZERO, and start over.
*Last but not least, when Anass Mouatik was sharing his experience he said something really interesting, I quote him: ” You know what success is? It is doing something you love over and over again until it makes you feel too bored. And if you keep on doing it despite the boredom, sooner or longer the results will really blow up your mind.” And I think it’s just correct. Because at a certain point, my team and I really felt so bored. And trust me, we really hated it, however; we kept on doing it. We took a step back, but we kept on doing it despite the boredom. At the end, the results were absolutely unbelievable.
To sum up, Youth Environmental Bootcamp was absolutely an extraordinary learning journey. Therefore, I’d love to say thank and very much to the AFCD Foundation members for this wonderful opportunity they offered; not only to learn, but also to shine. Thanks a lot to Heinrich Böll Stiftung for being part of this wonderful event, and supported it to happen. I would also to warmly thank all the participants, because each and every one of them had a positive impact on my personality, or taught me something beautiful.



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