A roundup of our mission to Morocco (May 20-23)
So, we are back in Israel after our five-day mission to Morocco, on behalf of the FRÉ community.
It was an unforgettable experience with unbelievable moments, that will probably remain in our souls and hearts forever.
The goal of our mission was to visit the women’s Argan cooperatives that benefit from the Argan trees of life we are plant as a part of our mission: “One Set, one Tree”. For every set sold, we plant an Argan tree to empower women who harvest the Argan oil and protect our planet.
Beyond us, the two co-founders Michael Azoulay and Mickael Bensadoun, we had an exceptional group taking part in this mission. Four FRÉ Ambassadors joined the mission: Annie Miller @anniemiller.co and her amazing husband Nate, Heba Ali @hybridheba, Kristen Garzone @mellank and her friend Alicia, and Yaara Benbenishty @yaara
We were also lucky to have a wonderful creative team with us: our video maker Omar Mhammedi @auxmar and her wife, Dalal Yagoubi @Dalal_Yagoubi, a Moroccan travel and style blogger, and our photographer Elad Nissim @eladnissim.
Of course, a big thank you to our partner, the High Atlas Foundation, who ensure that the Argan trees are planted, and actually benefit the cooperatives. The president of the HAF, Yossef Ben Meir, together with project director Errachid Mountassir, were amazing in organizing the visits to the cooperatives.
We spent most of our time in Essaouira, the beautiful blue city known for its freestyle tolerance and good energy. Essaouira, previously called Mogador under Portuguese colonization, is located in South West Morocco, on the Atlantic coast. It is in the heart of the Argan tree lands.
The goal of our mission was to visit two of the Argan cooperatives we have the chance to support and partner with.
The first one was the Izourane Cooperative located one hour from Essaouira in the Smimo Cooperative, where we had the privilege of visiting last year with our Ambassador Talia Baderman @talia_sutra. We connected to its’ charismatic President, Lala Amina, as well as the 13 women members of the cooperative. As you enter the Izourane Cooperative, we were struck by the calm beauty of the place, its serenity, and its warmth. A group of women works on the floor to crack the Argan nuts and although it is hard to know their daily struggles, the cooperative provides them a supportive community. It was inspiring to know that the FRÉ community has created this space for these women.
Their leader, Lala Amina also plays the role of a mother, taking care of them in the same ways her own mother once did after founding the cooperative in the nineties. Most of the cooperative members are illiterate, and Izourane gives them the chance to earn a living and support their family and community.
The connection between the Izourane Members and the FRÉ Ambassadors was as surprising as it was beautiful to see. There was something instinctive, something natural, something almost magical about the way these such different, but equally resilient women connected in such a deep way, without sharing even a single word in any language. Seeing Heba Ali, crying tears of connection was one of these unforgettable moments, where we knew we had created something special.
The visit gave us the willingness to do more for the Izourane community, even beyond planting Argan trees for them and their families. We have given school supplies and supported a women’s empowerment workshop in the past, and now we want to do more for this generation and the young generation of Izourane.
Our second visit to the Mogador Cooperative was a different experience to Izourane. Upon entering the Mogador Cooperative, located 30 km from Essaouira in the Ounagha district, we immediately felt its professionalism and business potential. We were first hosted by the financial vice-president of the Cooperative, before their young and entrepreneurial president, Hasna Elhroud joined us. A short presentation from its President confirmed the professionalism and potential of this cooperative, that already exports in the US, Germany, and France. When we asked Hasna Elhroud what their most important challenge was, he replied: “to reach new markets and sell more”.
The professionalism of the 30 women who are members of the cooperative did not prevent some unexpected activities such as singing, dancing and cooking together with our team. Since our visit took place during Ramadan, the cooperative members could not eat with us, but despite the fast, their generosity, energy, and willingness to connect with us, touched our hearts.
After this visit, we have a few ideas on how we could be better partners of the Mogador Cooperative. Stay tuned
We came back home with a buzz and a strong belief that our mission is beautiful and meaningful, with different branches of impact. We feel everything is possible thanks to our movement of FRÉnds, and our connection to this incredible land of Morocco. We dream to save the planet with the trees we plant, leading by example, and inspiring brands all over the world. We dream of empowering women and enabling women to lead the world forward. We dream of helping Morocco move in its natural direction of light, and love, and remain a land of hope for the world. And finally, we dream of making peace progress in our region, with the unstoppable power of strong women who battle to protect life. Heba, Yaara, Annie, Kristen, Dalal, and the Argan women support and push each other forward and with this group as our root, everything is possible!
Thank you FRÉnds for your contribution and for enabling FRÉ to do good in our world, and to enable our dreams as they grow bigger and bigger.