New York – That is one interesting endeavour! Chasing those old black plastic bags while they make their ways over big cities and villages and turn them into fashion accessories sold in France, Italy, Spain and Japan is what Faiza Hajji,did and for which she earned an award by the United Nations Program for Development (UNPD).
“Through this project, I meant to contribute to the protection of the environment and to enable the low-income population of Chouihiya, a village in the eastern province of Berkane, to have a financial resource,” Hajji, a telecoms engineering major who started the projects right after finishing studies in France.
“I have participated in several creative business competitions in France and I won the first award of the Chamber of Foreign Trade and the 2nd award of the trade of the Finance Minister,” she told MAP.
What was left for Hajji was materializing her project through the creation of a small business in Chouihiya, her native village.
In Chouihiya, around twenty women working in the cooperative, plus a tailor, start their day gathering used bags, washing and drying them and cutting them into small strips before sewing them into esparto according to a traditional basketwork know-how to make handbags, baskets, and wallets bearing the name of Ifassen (hand in Berber), A copyrighted brand in France where part of the design is being conceived by French designers.
+Environment and solidarity Economy+
“All these people live on the association’s activity,” It is a recycling activity which happens to be also revenue-generating,” the President of the cooperative said proudly, hoping that the “Ifassen activity, still limited in scope in Chouihiya, will have go national.”
“The aim is to consolidate activity in Morocco’s northeast and maybe cover other regions,” she said, noting that she is not looking for mass production but rather seeking to work within a solidarity fair trade.
“It is also an occasion to fight pollution, as some 100 bags are needed to make an Ifassan bag,” she said, adding that the approach of the association is based on “the protection of the environment, solidarity economy and design.”
The Paris Prêt-à-Porter Fair in September 2008 was the first won battles for IFASSEN. “People buy the products of the cooperative not necessarily because they are recycled, but because of its aesthetic aspect and the quality of the product entirely handmade, she added.
UNPD official, Helen Clark deemed that these Moroccan initiatives like other NGOs throughout the world is a message to be addressed during the Copenhagen Summit slated for next month to reach an agreement on climate change. MAP