Time for an outrageously overdue Spain post! Aliza and I arrived in Spain two weeks ago on the express ferry from Tangier.  After a VERY interesting overnight bus to Madrid (most of the passengers were Moroccan and broke the Ramadan fast halfway through the ride) we arrived in the beautiful capital city! Aliza had studied abroad here several years ago and was thrilled to be back and took the time to show me some of her favorite old haunts (tapas galore!)! 

The next day we had our first Spanish site visit.  We met with Fundacion Juan XXIII, an organization that helps educated and rehabilitate adults Spaniards with mental disabilities.  We toured their extensive facility where we met with both volunteers and beneficiaries.  I particularly loved the mock-apartment the organization has set up in order to teach these mentally handicapped beneficiaries how to independently perform day-to-day tasks like bathing, cooking for themselves and getting dressed in the morning.  

The Fundacion also generously provided us a space to host our Madrid workshops, where we met with a representative from Dell and several health-related organizations.  Aliza and I then spent our last 2 days in Madrid taking in the gorgeous sites (Royal Palace and Cathedral! Plaza Mayor!) before heading to Barcelona! 

We arrived in the iconic beach-front city last Friday, and promptly took advantage of the weekend to do a bit of site-seeing! We toured through Gaudi’s massive Sagrada Familia Cathedral and museums, enjoyed an afternoon on the (very crowded!) beach and ate delicious seasfood paella! 

Yesterday, we hosted our workshop here in Barcelona.  Even given the smaller turnouts in Spain (the entire country is on vacation!), Aliza and I have been thrilled to see that these workshops involve high capacity organizations with prior experience in online fundraising! 

This morning we had the pleasure of meeting with Aseel Honein, our project leader who flew in from Lebanon earlier this week to meet with us.  Aliza and I were very curious about this project, which strives for social inclusion of the homeless community in Barcelona.  We learned about the extensive research that Aseel’s team has conducted through canvasing, interviews and community challenges. We look forward to seeing what next steps Aseel and her colleagues take towards ameliorating this issue! 

Aliza and I are sad to leave Spain tomorrow, but we are thrilled to be heading first to Lyon and then to Paris to finish out our last two weeks with the In-The-Field program! 

Final photos from Morocco! 

Aliza and I have spent our last weekend in Morocco in the GORGEOUS city of Chefchaouen, nestled in the mountains between Fez and Tangier.  We have thoroughly enjoyed our 6 weeks in Morocco and look forward to coming back to this vibrant country in the future! Spain, here we come!! 

Aliza and I finished out our GlobalGiving field work in Morocco with a very promising workshop in Rabat! This was our first workshop attended exclusively by women, a very interesting contract to the workshop earlier this month in Marrakech, where we saw mostly men. It was also one of our most well-rounded workshops, with attendees from women’s non-profit organizations, a groups of representatives from the Moroccan Princess Meryam’s charitable foundation and government employees. We hope to see many of these organizations register for the September and December Global Open Challenges! 

On Thursday, we left Rabat for Fez, about 3 hours inland and 30 degrees hotter.  After 2 full weeks back along the coastline, Aliza and I had to readjust to the sweltering heat of the desert! Check out some of the awesome photos of the Fez medina, the biggest in Morocco housing nearly 500,000 people. We spent a really enjoyable 3 days in Fez, meeting some wonderful people! We also experienced the beginning of Ramadan, which will last until mid/late August. 

Stay tuned for a final Morocco update before we head to Spain on Tuesday! 

Its been another exciting week for Team Morocco (and Spain and France)!! Last week, Aliza and I hosted a great workshop in Casablanca.  We were thrilled to see some of our current and corporate partners there, as well as many new faces! We’re really looking forward to seeing some of these wonderful organizations during the September Open Challenge! 

Aliza and I arrived in Rabat last Thursday, and both of us agree that this is our favorite city so far.  Tragically, the bugs here in the capital seem to love me just as much as those in Casablanca, so I’ve been applying constant coats of insect repellent.  So essentially, I’ve been going around smelling like a VERY potent citronella candle all day erryday, but I suppose its better than the alternative! 

On Friday, Aliza and I had the pleasure of visiting Bayti, an organization that helps educate and house children from troubled backgrounds.  Bayti came to GlobalGiving through Dell, and they are going to participate in the September Open Challenge! Aliza and I had a great time visiting their farm school about 2 hours north of Rabat with their Project Leader Atika and intern Celia. We were received by Hassan, the Director of the farm school, who took us through the visit. We met with many of the students, walked through the fields of crops, and even visited the livestock stall!  Why YES, that is a photo of Aliza petting a pregnant dairy cow! We then enjoyed a delicious cous cous with the students (Friday is cous cous day).

This weekend, Aliza and I enjoyed a couple days off by doing some sightseeing around the city- check out the gorgeous coastline! 

We are really looking forward to hosting our workshop here in Rabat tomorrow, more updates to come soon! 

Team Morocco has had an exciting couple of weeks! Aliza and I are now back in Casablanca, preparing for our workshop tomorrow.  On July 27, we visited the High Atlas Foundation project sites with project manager Abderrahim.  We had a wonderful adventure while visiting the sites, seeing both the tree nursery where the cherry and walnut saplings are cultivated and then going to the local town where the 2-year-old trees are transplanted to contribute to the local economy.  Aliza and I met with local town leaders and even climbed trees to pick our own fruit! 

The following week we hosted a very successful workshop in Tahannout, a small town outside of Marrakech.  The High Atlas Foundation kindly set us up with the space and invited a number of their local partner organizations! Though most participants only spoke Arabic, Berber and bits of French, we were able to present with translators and eventually get the point across!

Aliza and I then spent a few days off in the beautiful Essaouira and small beach town Taghazout.  We’re now back in Casablanca and really looking forward to our workshop tomorrow morning and meeting the local organizations! More pics to come! 

alizainthefield:

Team Morocco on the job: Shonali and I are about to eat some really delicious fruit!

Love this one of us at the High Atlas Foundation project site! 

alizainthefield:

Team Morocco on the job: Shonali and I are about to eat some really delicious fruit!

Love this one of us at the High Atlas Foundation project site! 

Arrived in Marrakech 3 days ago! It has been well over 110 degrees everyday since we got here, but the scorching heat has not prevented us from enjoying our time here!

We’ve seen some of the local landmarks including Yves Saint Laurent’s stunning Jardin Majorelle.  We’ve also gotten lost in yet another medina, something that seems to happen to everyone at least once.  Sadly it happened to us right after arriving, so Aliza and I walked for almost an hour in the heat, with our enormous backpacks while a shopkeepers very thoughtful errand boy helped us find our way.  We finally found our riad (traditional hostel) and since then our last few days have been filled with delicious home-cooked meals, wandering the open air markets in the enormous Djemma el Fna and ducking in to the occasional air-conditioned building.  

This morning we had a great check-in meeting with Abderrahim from the High Atlas Foundation.  Really looking forward to visiting their projects in the High Atlas Mountains tomorrow and leading a workshop with them next week! More photos to follow! 

Its been an exciting week!! We enjoyed a lengthy layover in Frankfurt filled with sightseeing (spectacular views from the top of Maintower!).  We arrived in Casablanca on Tuesday completely jetlagged and disoriented, but still ready to take in the local sights.  Spent the afternoon yesterday touring through the majestic Hassan II Mosque and walking along the rocky beach side where we saw lots of kids playing in the water, and even some brave local boys who jumped off the Mosque ledge into the water below! 

Today we had our first site visit with a local partner.  Helene of SOS Children’s Villages Morocco was kind enough to show us around the local project here in Casablanca, identical to their project in Imzouren which is listed on the GlobalGiving site.  This project brings in orphans that have been abandoned by their single mothers, sets them up with foster mothers/aunts in the Village, educates them in the local schools and offers career and educational counseling when the children reach college age.  Aliza and I met with a family that including one foster mother, two aunts, three teenage boys, two young girls and one adorable baby, Yossef! Then we toured through the workshop center where the children learn to type on computers, play musical instruments and paint.  Aliza and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the project and the visible effect it was having on the community.  All of the children were friendly, extroverted and enthusiastic to show us around. The bond between the foster parents and the children was tangible.  As Helene said, “These children come to the Village at a young age and develop a very real bond with their foster parents… seeing that connection reminds us everyday of why we do what we do.” 

This evening, Aliza and I enjoyed the gorgeous Casablanca weather (75 and sunny!) and wandered through the shops, sipped on delicious fresh squeezed juice and promptly got lost navigating the labyrinth known as the medina or “old city”.  We will be heading down to Marrakech on Saturday… the 106 degree heat in the desert should be interesting! Can’t wait :) 

Shonali is traveling to Morocco, Spain and France as part of the GlobalGiving Foundation’s In-The-Field Program.  Follow her at inthefieldshonali.tumblr.com or on Twitter @BanerjeeShonali. 

alizainthefield:

Pictured above: Team Morocco having a hair-raising experience at the top of Maintower in Frankfurt, Germany.
Shonali and I had a 12-hour layover in Frankfurt on our way to Casablanca, so naturally we set out to see as much of the city as we could in one day. At first we were disappointed to find out that all museums in Germany are closed on Mondays, but it turned out OK. We saw some nice churches, adorable plazas, bridges over the Main River, the stock market, old opera house, and then accidentally walked into several banks thinking they were Maintower before actually finding the right building to get this view.
We arrived in Casa late last night and are excited to get started!

Had a wonderful layover in Frankfurt en route to Casablanca.  Can’t wait to get started with our first site visit this Thursday! 
Shonali is traveling through Morocco, Spain and France as part of the GlobalGiving Foundation’s In-The-Field Program.  Follow her here or on Twitter @BanerjeeShonali. 

alizainthefield:

Pictured above: Team Morocco having a hair-raising experience at the top of Maintower in Frankfurt, Germany.

Shonali and I had a 12-hour layover in Frankfurt on our way to Casablanca, so naturally we set out to see as much of the city as we could in one day. At first we were disappointed to find out that all museums in Germany are closed on Mondays, but it turned out OK. We saw some nice churches, adorable plazas, bridges over the Main River, the stock market, old opera house, and then accidentally walked into several banks thinking they were Maintower before actually finding the right building to get this view.

We arrived in Casa late last night and are excited to get started!

Had a wonderful layover in Frankfurt en route to Casablanca.  Can’t wait to get started with our first site visit this Thursday! 

Shonali is traveling through Morocco, Spain and France as part of the GlobalGiving Foundation’s In-The-Field Program.  Follow her here or on Twitter @BanerjeeShonali. 

alizainthefield:

On our last day at the GlobalGiving office, the Morocco team (Shonali and I) is wrapping up the planning sessions and getting ready to head out on Sunday. See you in the field!

Can’t wait for our North African/European adventures! 
Shonali is in Morocco, Spain and france as a part of GlobalGiving’s In-The-Field program.  Follow her at inthefieldshonali.tumblr.com or onTwitter @BanerjeeShonali.

alizainthefield:

On our last day at the GlobalGiving office, the Morocco team (Shonali and I) is wrapping up the planning sessions and getting ready to head out on Sunday. See you in the field!

Can’t wait for our North African/European adventures! 

Shonali is in Morocco, Spain and france as a part of GlobalGiving’s In-The-Field program.  Follow her at inthefieldshonali.tumblr.com or onTwitter @BanerjeeShonali.