High Atlas Mountains Project: Update (Nov 2016)

Thank you all who have contributed to the High Atlas project of the San Carlos Rotary Club. Through our Reubens for Rotary fundraiser in June, we raised over $17,000.   Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  We have been making good headway toward the water project we are planning.

The area we are targeting for our water project is the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where San Carlos Rotarian Steve Carlson served in the Peace Corps.  The village, called Ait Daoud, is in the province of Ourzazate, above the town of El Kelaa Mgouna.  If you see pictures of Marrakesh, with snow-capped mountains in the background, Ouarzazate province is on the far side of those mountains.  It is the edge of the Sahara desert, and is a fabulously rugged and beautiful place.


The region obtains much of its water from snowmelt from the mountains.  When Steve lived there, there was no electricity nor piped water. Child mortality was very high, in the range of 30-40%.  Drinking water was either obtained from a system of irrigation ditches, or from wells or springs.  None of the water was treated.  The ultimate goal of our project is to bring clean drinking water to that village.

We are pursuing this project with two other organizations at this time — Rotary Club of Marrakesh-Majorelle, and Corps Africa-Morocco.  The Rotary Club of Marrakesh has recently completed a water piping project in another region of the High Atlas Mountains.  We were put in touch with that group through the Rotary network, and identified Khadija El-Bourkadi as our counterpart.  While initial discussions with her were in Steve’s broken French, eventually she coyly revealed that she has a bachelor’s degree in English literature.  Coordination with her has been a lot easier ever since!

Shortly after our event, Corps Africa-Morocco sent one of their members, Aziz Noujoum, to visit Ait Daoud.  He found Steve’s former Berber host, Si Abderahmen Ait Tazarine, and they surveyed the water situation.  Here is a photo of the well from which the people get their drinking water:3de2b440-c5a1-43eb-98bf-378209735c5a-l0-001-15

and a photo of the irrigation ditch that provides water for their fields:


In on-going discussions with people from Ait Daoud, the immediate priority we have identified is to line the irrigation ditch with concrete.  This will provide increased volume of water to the fields, to avoid loss of water by absorption through the ground.  The irrigation ditch is about 4 kilometer (2 miles) long.  Here is a photo of an example that we would likely follow, using pre-fab concrete slabs to reinforce the irrigation ditch:

ditchOnce that irrigation ditch is reinforced to increase water for their fields, then we expect to turn our attention to drinking water. For example, we may lay a water pipe alongside the concrete, to run water from a distant spring to the school of Ait Daoud.  We have in mind installing a SunSpring water purification system next to the school, where a water bottling operation could be begun.  This could not only provide a source of clean water for all the people in the village, it could also be a commercial enterprise.  So we look forward to this as a likely “Step 2” once the irrigation ditch is improved.

Steve will be traveling with his family to Morocco at the end of the year.  He will be speaking at the Rotary Club of Marrakesh on December 28.  Members of Corps Africa will be attending as well.  The next day they will travel to Ouarzazate province for the site inspection.  The goal will be to coordinate with the local villagers, to firm up the technical plan for the project, and to get a budget for the full project.  Thereafter we hope to file an application for a Global Grant with Rotary International, with the Rotary Club of Marrakesh as our partner in Morocco.

Plans (and cooking) are underway for Reubens for Rotary 2017.  This will be Sunday, June 4.  Steve has already set up a wheel of parmesan cheese, to start the culinary extravaganza.  We hope you can join us.

Meanwhile, donations are always welcome.  We welcome your generosity.  Please click on the Donate button below.  And thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your support.  We are working hard to put your contributions to work!

Atlas Mountains Project

Thank You for Supporting the Atlas Mountains Project

Dear Rotarians,
I wanted to thank you for being part of our Atlas Mountains project.  The Reubens for Rotary party was a tremendous success.  We had about 140 attendees and raised over $16K for our project.  I am just thrilled with the support. I hope you had a good time and some good food.
Now we’re moving onto to the work in Morocco.  We are working closely with Corps Africa-Morocco, which is the group founded by Liz Fanning, who spoke at our event.  One of the Corps-Africa personnel will be traveling to my old village next week in the province of Ouarzazate.  He will do a site assessment and learn the current status of the drinking water situation there.  We will evaluate a number of different options for drinking water improvement projects there, including the potential installation of a SunSpring purification system there (in tandem with Jon Kaufman of H2OpenDoors, who also spoke at the event).  And I’ll be reconnecting with my Berber family after 20 years, which is neat on a personal level.

Additionally, Corps Africa has existing projects on-going near the Marrakesh area.  There are three volunteers currently stationed in the High Atlas Mountains outside Marrakesh.  One of those Corps Africa sites is the village of Tizi Zeguaght, which is the service site for Mourad Adbdennebi, who joined our party from Morocco via the Periscope app.  We collected water samples from his village the other week and are waiting on laboratory analyses to determine an appropriate project there.  We will also be evaluating project proposals from the volunteers who are currently stationed there, as those proposals are submitted later this summer.

The Rotary Club of Marrakesh will also be participating in these projects as we move forward.

Thank you again for your support, and stand by for more updates.  If you by chance have plans to travel to Morocco, let me know and I’d be glad to offer some suggestions.

Steve Carlson

Pay Your Dues with a Button

Now you can pay your dues by pressing a button and entering your paypal info or credit card information.  The private information is entered on a secure web page managed by paypal, the pioneer in secure online transactions.

Click to pay your $300 Dues to the Rotary Club of San Carlos.

Hometown Days Rotary Club of San Carlos Fun Run 2016

Calling all runners, big, small, fast or slow.  This year’s Hometown Days Rotary Club of San Carlos Fun Run is Sunday May 22 at 8:30 in Burton Park next to the Youth Center.  You can sign up at Race Roster or show up starting at 7:00 am to register on site.


Pancake breakfast1



The Pancake Breakfast will be served starting at 9am in left field of the baseball diamond.

If cannot attend but would like to donate to the Pancake Breakfast, please click on this button.

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Also visit the Home Town Days web site for more about Home Town Days.

Fun Run Route




Map of the race course
(click to enlarge)

Reubens for Rotary

IMG_0032Come join us for a very special event. The Rotary Club of San Carlos is hosting a dedicated fundraising event in support of the Atlas Mountains Project at the home of member Steven C Carlson in the highlands of San Carlos. The Atlas Mountains extend 1600 miles through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia separating the Atlantic and the Mediterranean from the Shara Desert.  Reaching to altitudes of 14,000 feet this remote, isolated land has been home to the Berbers for over 10,000 years.  Steve, as a Peace Corps volunteer, spent years with the Berber people bonding  and developing a deep appreciation for the hardships of living in such an extremely remote area without access to clean water, electricity or modern conveniences.

Reuben SandwichSteve is now an artisan food hobbyist who makes his own pastrami, sauerkraut, bread, cheese, wine, sausages and other charcuterie. He wants to give back to the people he lived with in his Peace Corps service, and eventually secure their access to clean, potable water. Come taste the best reuben sandwiches in San Carlos, and enjoy Steve’s lovely home with views as far as San Francisco.

By NJVR - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3985729

By NJVR – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3985729

We are expecting a very special guest , Tom Riley the former Ambassador to Morocco is going to come to give some words of encouragement to those attending. Born in San Mateo, Tom received a BS in Industrial Engineering from Stanford and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  He served as ambassador to Morocco from 2003 to 2009.  He was in Morocco even longer than Steve, but had much better accommodations.



June 11
5pm – 9pm
3126 La Mesa Dr.


Tickets are $80 per person.  There are two ways to purchase tickets or donate to the cause.  You may either send a check to the Rotary Club of San Carlos, or you can use your credit card through Brown Paper Tickets below.  Brown Paper Tickets adds on a fee.

Make checks payable to Community Service Inc or CSI.

The Rotary Club of San Carlos, Community Services Inc.
Reubens for Rotary
PO Box 515
San Carlos, CA 94070

Please indicate whether this is a donation or if you will want your Reubens.  You will be included in our list of will calls.  Thanks!

If you can’t attend but would like to donate to the Atlas Mountains Project please click on the Donate button and you will be taken to a secure PayPal page to submit your credit card information.



Atlas Mountains Project

atlasThe Atlas Mountains Project is a long term project of the Rotary Club of San Carlos led by Rotarian Steven C Carlson. With matching funds from Rotary International we will work with Moroccan and international organizations to bring sustainable clean water development to remote areas of the Atlas Mountains. With proficiency in Berber, Arabic, and French, and with on-going ties to the area, we are in a unique position to be able to establish constructive relations with locals at all levels of society and promote health and peace in this exciting and exotic area of the world.

Morocco as a strategic development priority

moroccoMorocco is a priority opportunity for development work. It is one of the few countries in the Islamic world that is maintaining a stable and peaceful society, and thus serves an important bridge between Western countries and the Middle East. We would like to do our part to keep it that way. Historically, Morocco was the first country in the world to recognize the United States diplomatically. It is also strikingly beautiful and within easy reach for an exciting trip, where you can see firsthand the work we intend to do.

Water is life

ouzoud_1Clean water is the foundation of life.   Where Steve was a volunteer, as is common throughout the developing world, waterborne illness was the number one cause of death. The family that hosted him had 9 children, only four of which lived – a very common tale.   By providing a reliable source of clean water, so many hardships are alleviated. Women and girls no longer need to spend hours of their day drawing water, and caring for sick children, which allows them to attend school and read. A drop in the mortality rate should decrease the pressure to have the large families that are typical of the area. And recognition of Rotary’s contribution to the local communities should promote and sustain the basic appreciation that Moroccans have for America.

Rotary Marrakesh – Majorelle

rotary of marakeshWe will work with the Rotary Club in the Majorelle district of Marrakesh, which has made water development in the High Atlas Mountains a priority with their club. They are wrapping up an impressive piping and cistern project, and we look forward to identifying a new project to work on together. This all-women’s club is a “do-er” group, and we’re excited to work together with them.


Corps Africa-Morocco

Modeled on the U.S. Peace Corps, Corps Africa provides an internal service organization for African countries, currently Morocco, Senegal, and Malawi. Now in its third year, it sends recent host-country university graduates with an interest in development work into the rural parts of those countries. In Morocco, one of the areas they target is the High Atlas Mountain region outside of Marrakesh. We intend to co-sponsor one Corps Africa volunteer (in tandem with the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative). With these volunteers’ “boots on the ground” we intend to have them perform a needs assessment of the areas where they are serving. Based on their recommendations, together with the help of Rotary Marrakesh, we intend to identify discrete projects to tackle. Because Corps Africa-Morocco and Rotary Marrakesh are well-connected at all levels of Morocco central and local government, we hope our initiatives will be well-supported there, with a sustainable long-term future. The Corps-Africa’s website is corpsafrica.org.



h2ODH2OpenDoors is a fabulous organization based right here in San Carlos. Led by Jon Kaufman, H2OpenDoors focuses on installing SunSpring water purification systems throughout the world, including in Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, and the Phillipines. The SunSpring system outputs up to 5000 gallons a day of clean water, using solar power and readily-available filter systems. We hope to find a suitable site for a SunSpring system, and ideally set up a bottling system that would allow local communities to develop a commercially-sustainable business, including selling clean bottled water to villagers and tourists. Their website is h2opendoors.org.

Summary of the Plan:

Atlas-Mountains-Labeled-2Initially we will co-sponsor one Corps Africa-Morocco volunteer. The group of volunteers stationed in the High Atlas region will perform needs assessments for the communities where they are living. One question they will address is whether a SunSpring system would be suitable for their areas.

At the same time we will continue to work with Rotary Marrakesh to identify an appropriate project, and develop a plan to carry it out. With Rotary Marrakesh and the project plan, we will apply for a Rotary Global Grant, which will leverage the funds that we raise.

Depending on the projects they identify, and the suitability of the SunSpring system for the local needs, we may organize an expedition in late 2016 or 2017 to help install this system and make plans for future projects – to which you will be invited!

Over the years, we intend to extend this project to other areas within Morocco. We hope to make this a long-term project of our club and an exciting project for peace.

Back to Reubens for Rotary
The Atlas Mountains Project
Thank You to Our Sponsors
Gallery  of the Atlas Mountains ( 2 3 )

The Event
Behind the Kitchen