Recently, HANDS managed to catch a brief interview with our very busy Professional Fellows Program alumni Jaouad Benaicha. In addition to his day job of working to establish a hostel in his hometown of Oujda, Morocco, Jaouad is the General Secretary of the Oriental Region Youth Hostel Association, Project Manager for the Integration of Migrants in Oujda, and the Coordinator of the Women Empowerment Program by the Oujda Youth Council.

Jaouad holds a Master’s degree in Gender, Society, and Development, and for the length of his career he has been passionate about social service and volunteering.  In order to further his experience in advocating for youth, women, and migrants, Jaouad applied for the Professional Fellows Program, where he went on to gain hands on experience in organizational best practices.  Jaouad completed his month long fellowship at Legal Voice Seattle, a law firm that works on behalf of women’s rights, and gained valuable experience in fundraising methods, volunteerism practices, as well as personnel and project management.

Since his experience with the Professional Fellows Program, Jaouad has gone on to organize “Hands for Good Will in Oujda”, a successful multi-organization clothing drive for school children in impoverished communities.  The project name was inspired by HANDS’ support during the Professional Fellows Program and Goodwill Industries’ messages of “donate today” and “because jobs change lives.”  The experience he gained from the program helped him in recruiting and managing volunteers.

Jaouad has become a strong advocate for youth, women, and migrants in his hometown, where he has spearheaded a number of projects and workshops.  He has worked to organize job skills trainings for young people, and a two day workshop on understanding the interaction between public policies and the role of youth and women in the creation of public politics.

“I have learned a lot about many sectors from which I can mention fundraising and volunteerism. I have tried to implement all what I have learned in my social activities in Oujda city” he said.

Jaouad values human rights, and he has organized workshops for youth involvement in order to promote rights discourse within Morocco.  In doing so, Jaouad aims to reinforce humanistic principles in the minds of young people.  He hopes that one day values such as equality and tolerance will be more fully realized for everybody.  By developing the capacities for young people, Jaouad hopes to raise the next generation of Moroccan civil leaders.

Since returning home to Morocco, Jaouad has remained an active member of the Professional Fellows Alumni Network.  A few weeks ago, he participated in an online meetup with alumni from 90+ countries through a follow-up “Let’s Work Network” lecture from the Professional Fellows Congress. Fondly reminiscing on his time in the program, Jaouad says that the Professional Fellows Program has successfully generated “one family around the world.”

HANDS is thankful to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and our other generous donors for making this professional development opportunity possible for Jaouad Benaicha. We are so proud of his efforts to advocate for marginalized groups in Morocco.