We manage Morocco Library Project as a program of OliveSeed Foundation, a 501c3 public charity nonprofit (EIN 82-1693564). Donations in the U.S. are tax deductible.

© 2014-19 Morocco Library Project

Palo Alto, California, USA

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Who We Are

Barb Mackraz, Founder & Director 
Palo Alto, California

"I first visited Morocco in 2013, anxious to explore its gorgeous architecture and geometric arts. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had fallen in love with the country, its deeply historical blend of cultures, and the warm hospitality of the people I met. That was just the beginning, and now this project has blossomed into a full-time passion. It's an honor to work with such dedicated English teachers in Morocco, to help them inspire learning and a culture of reading among their students. It is also my hope that we'll build a strong community between the US and Morocco, a lasting bridge of friendship."

Barb spent a long career in research and design for tech companies in Silicon Valley, before starting this initiative in January 2014. She has always loved arts, literature, languages, and learning about other cultures, and she is passionate about literacy and sharing the bounty of good fortune more equally. (mission)

New in the Academic Year 2019-20!

We now have a management team of teachers in Morocco who handle logistics on that end and participate in strategy and planning of Morocco Library Project. We are very grateful to this team who are giving their time and their expertise to make sure that MLP continues to thrive.

 

Young Leaders

Mohcine El-alji
Bzou & Beni-Melal, Morocco

"I always loved to inspire people, to spread love and peace, to help people and play it as a real patriot person who loves his planet not only his country. I really believe that even in the rambunctious sea, I'm in the right place with the right people, with whom together we can make change. I strongly feel that we are changing what is bad to be good, and what is good to be better. Honestly, I'm so tremendously honored and happy, to have the opportunity to help in this initiative."

Mohcine graduated from Tifariti HIgh School and is now studying English at Sultane Moulay Slimane University in Beni-Melal. He's also a poet and essayist and an activist for environmental protection and wildlife conservation. 

Stay tuned for our environmental program with Mohcine coming up in 2018-19.

 

Find Mohcine in the videos

Youssef Aitha
Erfoud & Meknes, Morocco

"I am sure 100% that our project will make tomorrow more than better in Morocco, because our team is focusing on solving one of the worst problems that Morocco suffers from, which is the absence of reading. Our mission in Morocco Library Project is to bring books to the hands of students in my home country and also to speed up the learning of English because we all know that English contributes to global communication."

 

Youssef graduated from Moulay Rachid High School in Erfoud, where he lit the spark for the first library, and is now studying biology at Moulay Ismail University in Meknes.

 

In 2017 Youssef was selected as a Coca-Cola MENA scholar representing Morocco and studied business at Indiana University through that program. He is interested in international affairs and using English as a tool of communication and peace.

Story from Youssef

Brahim Aitbarka
Zagora & Marrakech, Morocco

"Because every story matters, I am a StoryTeller! You know what happens when you bring together a storyteller and a book lover? You get an endless running river of passion and ambition to make change in the world. Both brought by the love of words, Barb and I first met virtually back in 2016. We barely talked back then, but we knew that destiny has just brought together two persons knowing nothing about each other, but they knew the mission they were set for, to  bring the joy of reading and spread the  love of words. In April 2018, I finally met Barb, and what a joyful, cheerful soul she is. A loving second mother.

 

Morocco Library Project marked a turning point in my life. Finally students can read any book they desire, finally the gift of reading is restored. And I do believe that together our great team will shine, Enshalllah, and finally the story begins!"

Brahim grew up in the Zagora region and now studies English at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech. Among his many outside activities, he's also a board member of MasterPeace Morocco and the founder of the story platform Hjaytna.

 

Find Brahim in the videos

Ferdawss Ben Malk
Sept El-Guerdane, Morocco

"I have a big interest in languages,and I try to learn new ones to be more close to the other cultures and know more about them. I am also a bookish girl. Books are my life. Reading is my habit. And I think that's what explains why I'm on the Morocco Library Project team. I hope I'll spread my love of books and my passion into the world through MLP."

 

Ferdawss graduated from El Guerdane High School in Taroudant in 2018 and is now studying English at Ibn Zohr University in Agadir. She was the coordinator of her high school's busy English club. In addition to being a voracious reader, Ferdawss writes book reviews about young adult novels to encourage other students in the Morocco Library Project network to dive into reading, and she suggests books for the libraries.

 

Story from Ferdawss

FatimaZahra Taghlaoui
Erfoud & Meknes, Morocco

"I decided to join this project that changes lives, to be part of the team spreading this Blessing around me. We are helping many people like me, or people even worse off in my community and my country. Helping others makes me feel that I am present, and that Yes, I am alive. I have a chance to make a difference in my society, so I work as hard as I can to make this project a successful one."

 

FatimaZahra was a student at both the Moulay Rachid and New High Schools in Erfoud, and she played a big role in the development of both libraries,

 

Today FatimaZahra is studying English literature at Moulay Ismael University in Meknes. She hopes to go to graduate school and to advance education for girls and women in Morocco.

 

Story from FatimaZahra

Mohammed El Wahabi
Casablanca, Morocco

"When I first heard about this immensely significant endeavor, the first thing that popped up in my mind was: I wish there was a Barb in my life a few years ago. Indeed, I wouldn’t have had to flip through dozens of ebooks and harm my eyesight, and I would have had a chance to dive deeper into the shoreless ocean of literature. My acquaintance with Barb instilled in me a deep belief in the power of change. If we truly believe in what we do and have faith in the outcomes on the world, no matter how much discouragement we face, we will make it happen."

 

Mohammed loves to refer to himself as a young writer and a global citizen. He is the winner of two national short story contests, Malika Moustadraf and Dar El Bir, and his stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. His passion for writing also enabled him to take part in the Between the Lines program at the University of Iowa in 2014.

 

Mohammed believes in empowering young people through storytellng, and in 2017 he founded the Olive Writers Camp, drawing writers from across North Africa.

Volunteers

Hannah Pan
Palo Alto, California & Cambridge, Massachusetts

"After hearing about Morocco Library Project and getting to know Barb in high school, I decided to join because I believe books and literary resources have an undeniably powerful influence on learning. Personally, I am lucky enough to have read many wonderful books—and that helped me improve my language skills when I first moved to the United States at a young age. It has also been wonderful getting to know some of the members on the Young Leadership Team in Morocco and their stories; their dedication and commitment truly inspire me. I’m honored to be a part of this team and can’t wait to see what the future holds for this amazing project!"

Hannah is a freshman in college interested in Government and Public Policy. Her favorite book is Matilda by Roald Dahl. She’s excited to continue her involvement with the project in college and hopes to help the Morocco Library Project spread its mission and influence.

Muha Aitha
Erfoud & Marrakech, Morocco

Muha was Barb's guide in 2013 and showed her a one-room schoolhouse in a Gnawan community in the desert, which was the original spark that started the library idea. He has helped Morocco Library Project since then on trips and transporting books. 

Holly Newman
Pleasanton, California

"I still remember how excited I was as a small child when I first learned how to read, and I've loved reading ever since. I'm honored to be part of the Morocco Library Project's efforts to increase literacy and build bridges of friendship across the world. I've been studying Modern Standard Arabic for several years with the goal of being able to read Arabic literature, and I hope to start learning the Moroccan dialect soon."

Holly recently retired from the tech world, where she was an analyst in the energy sector for over 20 years. She set up and for several years ran our 501c3 accounting system.

Barbara Hall, Rissani/Errachidia projects
Sonoma, California

“As an avid amateur photographer, a trip to Morocco had always been high on my bucket list, and in March of 2016, I had the privilege to travel there. While constantly photographing, something unexpected happened: Morocco entered my heart and my mind. The beauty of the land, the rich cultural history, and the genuine hospitality of its people made an indelible mark on me. My connection to Morocco was born, and I am honored to be working with the dedicated team members on Morocco Library Project.”

Barbara developed a library for Lalla Salma High School in Rissani, with the Sonoma High School student Lena Mallett, and occasionally continues on more projects. She's also a bookseller at Reader's Books in Sonoma and is on the Advisory Board of the Sonoma Public Library. 

Mohammed Aitrhanimi
Rissani & Marrakech, Morocco

"Travel and interaction with internationals has changed my life. It has taught me about the world, the people in it, and myself. This has given me an education I never would have received just inside the classroom: that there is a big world out there. As someone who knows the power of education and travel, I wanted to give students in Morocco a chance through books to see beyond their borders, and to show them there is a world of possibility if they are willing to grab it. I believe in what Malcolm X said, 'Education is the passport to the future.'"

As a guide for Barbara Hall in 2016, Mohammed spoke of his desire to help the young students in his hometown, and through those discussions the idea for a library in Rissani was born. He collaborated with Barbara Hall on that project.

Carolina Cooney
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

"After visiting Morocco in 2016 and 2017, I found myself wanting to get involved with the country on a deeper level. As a librarian, I dreamed of working with libraries to help serve rural and undeveloped areas. Imagine my surprise when an Internet search yielded Morocco Library Project! I immediately wrote to Barb, and in less than a month we had books going to three schools. I'm thrilled to be part of such a wonderful organization that helps educate the future of Morocco."

Carolina is a librarian on the island of Martha's Vineyard. After developing an obsession with the color Majorelle Blue, she traveled to Morocco to visit the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech and fell in love with the country. Carolina now shares the artistry of Morocco through trade shows, and sometimes transports books to Morocco with her. 

Sanaa Zakaria
Palo Alto, California

"When at first I heard about this project I was immediately blown away by Barb's effort to create an easy access way to get books and the English language instilled in the Moroccan school system. I am so honored to be a part of this amazing and fulfilling project and to be working with such amazing people who are truly changing the world for the better. I have always loved to read and write, and now I have a chance to help other kids do the same. Making a difference in the world sometimes seems impossible, but if and when you find the right team it can be a life-changing experience."

Sanaa is a high student in Palo Alto and an avid reader, with her favorite book being Kiki Strike. In her free time, she writes stories and poems. Sanaa writes book reviews and helps us with events.

Lahcen Tighoula
Regional Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Morocco

"As an English language teaching supervisor, I always support initiatives that promote literacy and, specifically, extensive reading projects. I also strongly believe in cross-cultural education and its great importance for world peace and tolerance. As the mission of Morocco Library Project is to boost language skills and strengthen cultural bonds between Morocco and the US, I did not hesitate to join the initiative and contribute to its success. Being an active member of MATE (Moroccan Association of Teachers of English) also gives me a chance to support the success of the project nationwide."

Lahcen helped us greatly by coordinating with teachers and ministry members in the earliest days of Morocco Library Project.