As CEO and founder of a nationwide voluntary association – Den Sociale Retshjælps Fond (The Social Legal Aid) – Through the years I have looked throughout the world to give and receive inspiration in other associations in Europe – And in Africa too.
In 2016, I (Sandy Winkler Madar) was presented to the many associations in the city of Tangier while on my way to Morocco, working with the www.thcme.dk project, which became my starting point in my Moroccan adventure. During my research in Morocco I came up with the idea of a center for voluntary associations and volunteers. This would be achieved through the establishing of an internal (Intranet) and an external (Webpage) platform, where the associations in Morocco from this point on will be able to find each other and learn more about each other’s competences and skills. The goal of this platform is, amongst other things, to create public exposure for the voluntary associations in Tangier and Morocco in general, and to strengthen the associations both internationally and nationally, for example by sharing knowledge and increasing quality through communicating, professional events and more. A new project then came to be in the autumn of 2018. The time since then has been used to prepare the coming trip in February, where the association is expected to be founded and to have established partnerships with relevant local actors. I hope that 2019 will be the year where ideas become reality. You will be able to keep up with the development of the project as well as our upcoming activities on the page below.
January 2019 - Denmark
The next step was to make contact with the voluntary associations in Tangier to plan the upcoming meetings in February. The intention was both to present them to the idea of a center for voluntary associations and voluntees, and also to get them to join the project as well as get an insight into what their biggest challenges in their work is – to make sure that the project is able to cover these needs. The meetings were booked by the project leader in Tangier (Ismail), because of challenges posed by way of communication as well as language. Moreover the webpage was completed, where large parts of it already are translated into English and the rest will be translated in alongside efforts when translating to Arabic, Spanish and French.
December 2018 - Denmark
In Denmark, December was spent on developing a project description, as well as on identifying possible national and international collaborators, contributors and the like. Furthermore we took the first steps in creating a webpage and planned the next trip to Morocco in February 2019, which were to be used on establishing the association and to be included in the first cooperation agreements. In Morocco we spent the time on contacting the associations we hope to cooperate with, and booking the meetings for the upcoming visit. We were also preparing for the first activity, which we expect to be a volunteer conference in Tangier, possibly in May or June of 2019. We hope that this conference will be the first step in building the new center, as well as strengthening the individual associations both professionally as well as economically. The more united one stands on legal policy, the greater the chances of being heard as an association representing one or more target groups.
November 2018 - Tangier
During a meeting with a lawyer on November 9th 2018 in Tangier, we came up with the idea of creating a common platform in the form of an external webpage that were to create more visibility about the local voluntary associations as well as an intranet, that the associations could use as a tool for exploring means of upgrading their volunteers, leadership and for learning. This was because it was clear during the meeting that there was a great need for a community that one could use for knowledge sharing, shared courses, development and so on. Before the meeting was over, we had taken the first step in creating a voluntary association that could work as a form of community for the existing as well as upcoming associations/projects in Morocco.
November 2018 - Tangier
In our search for local associations able for cooperation in Tangier, we came into contact with DARNA whom, during a meeting on November 10th, were very positive on our idea of a common digital platform wherein the associations could get together around their legal work, and in bettering the conditions both for the residents and the associations themselves. Together we would be able to solve the typical challenges they would face in their work. The first steps were taken in starting an association for voluntary associations in Tangier, Morocco on November 11th before the travel home to Denmark. Here we developed a timetable for the project, including work assignments for the first team of volunteers for the rest of 2018 and 2019.
September 2018 - Tangier
We had already begun the planning of this trip during our last visit. This time the focus was solely to finish a short presentation in English and Arabic about how one could decriminalize cannabis and how one could help the farmers in Ketama adapt to the changing circumstances and more importantly how one could build a supportive infrastructure in the villages. Several Danish associations, firms and other possible contributors were contacted, to get an idea of whether it would even be any support for a project like this. The support has been overwhelming on all fronts. Fair Trade Denmark was an indispensable help. We had recognized that we needed to start with the development of villages and not in decriminalization and adaption, because the safety net needs to be a functioning village with an infrastructure that can live up to the upcoming demands of cannabis exports.
August 2018 - Tangier
In preparation for this trip we had collected about 75 kg of toys, creative things, kitchen equipment and the likes, which were to be donated to one of our projects in Ketama. Here it would be distributed amongst the cannabis farmers. Our voluntary work in Morocco was in part aimed at understanding the ability of the farmers of cannabis to adapt to the decriminalization of cannabis, including the rising demand on CBD and THC oils. As an important part of this project, the goal was to identify what needs the many small villages dependent on the sale of cannabis had. It had become clear, already during the first visit to the Ketama Mountains over two years ago, that a decriminalization wouldn’t be enough, but that we needed to start another place – by building an infrastructure in the village. This would include anything from hygiene, clean drinking water, handling of trash, schooling, electricity and much more. All this was needed before the many thousand cannabis farmers and their families would be able to compete on the future cannabis market.
July and August 2018 - Tangier
After an eye-opening and inspiring trip to Morocco, the effort to identify voluntary associations, in Tangier, became first priority, in the hopes of being able to identify relevant associations both nationally and internationally. At the time we were looking for help with a project concerning clean drinking water, electricity, schools and more. The rest of the stay in Tangier was used to visit various authorities, in trying to get a clearer picture of what it would take to get a permission to start projects like these as well as contacting the Moroccan embassy in Denmark. This was meant to show transparency and to request help in identifying exactly what authorities we needed to establish contact with, including relevant associations, which proved harder than expected. Even before leaving for Denmark, the next trip to Tangier was already planned.
July 2018 - Tangier
To get a better understanding of Morocco, my vacation with my family became a two week study tour to the Atlas Mountains, Agadir, Essaouira, Marrakesh and many other locations. Common to all of those were the large number of children living on the street with little or no efforts made trying to solve the problem. In several of the cities we tried to find local associations/projects that worked with these children living on the street. That turned out to be incredibly difficult. We did learn a lot about the different areas in Morocco, including the need for help. We also learned how to use the things we had learnt in the Atlas Mountains could be used in other areas, such as the Rif Mountains, in relations to sorting and disposing of trash. This came to be another project on its own.
May 2018 - Tangier
We were in Morocco in relation to one of our projects in Denmark (www.thcme.dk). It was time to experience the vulnerable communities in Tangier, as well as paying a visit to the local associations. During the visits to the various areas it became clear to us, that there were a need for more projects/associations directed at helping the many children living in the street, some as young as 9 or 10 years old. They would beg on the streets, often at night whilst high on drugs, but no one would make an effort to come to help them. The rest of the trip was spent getting around in the poorer areas of Tangier. This was done, partially to get an understanding of their needs as well as getting to know what associations/projects that were already present in the area.
August 2017 - Tangier
Morocco was one of the most important countries to visit in relation to our www.thcme.dk project. This is because of Morocco’s long history as supplier of hash to Europe and because of international change on the view on cannabis. The purpose was to get an idea of how far Morocco was in relation to decriminalizing cannabis, as well as learning the history of cannabis in medicine and food in Morocco. During the trip I made contact with various local voluntary associations in Tangier. It was clear that there were a need for establishing a forum or a platform for the local voluntary associations, both to be able to share knowledge and to work together on shared projects. That is why we established cooperation between a couple of these associations, with the focus of being able to discuss ideas and experiences related to voluntariness – Which came to be the first step, towards that which became reality in November of 2018.
August 2016 - Tangier
During my research in Morocco in 2016, in relation to the www.thcme.dk project, I quickly discovered that there were no community for the local associations in Morocco. Neither were there any traditions of cooperation with the residents, collaboration on legal subjects, assistance on acquiring funds, and certification of the volunteers. While these are common practice in Europe, I found them lacking in Tangier. So my first challenge was to localize the Moroccan local associations, which became the start of a long and exciting journey.