It all started in 1996 when Faiza Hajji, a Moroccan teenager, was cycling around the “plastic village” (Douar el Mika, a neighborhood in North-East Morocco known for its severe plastic bag pollution) and kept thinking of how she could use this huge amount of discarded plastic bags to make something useful. Ten years later, Faiza started a project called IFASSEN (or hands in Berber, one of Morocco's native languages) to tackle plastic bag pollution, empower rural women and preserve a local know-how of basketry weaving. From that idea of useful and fashionable recycling was born. She gathered a group of four unemployed and illiterate women from Douar el Mika and together, they started testing the integration of used plastic bags into the traditional weaving technique. With lots of work, practice, and imagination, they managed to create a handbag out of plastic bags.
The social, environmental, and artistic dimensions of the project captured the attention of French designer Anaëlle Madec. She came to Morocco to visit Faiza and the group of women, and worked with them to create an exclusive and unique collection of eco-friendly and socially relevant handbags and baskets. These products, at the crossroads of modern design and traditional weaving, were so unique that they immediately were a success in France. In 2008, Faiza created the Association du Docteur Fatiha (ADF), in memory of her mother, a doctor who was deeply involved with her community in Berkane. The organization quickly implemented its local office and raised funds to strengthen the project and was finally fully established in 2011
Today, the project holds four cooperatives gather a total of 60 women. These women each get a regular income thanks to the organisation. In terms of recycling efficiency, one medium-size handbag will require about 40 plastic bags. A pair of “Bellar” earrings needs 14 plastics bags. The award belongs to the large basket designed by Amandine Chhor, for which 115 plastic bags will be recycled!
After ADF created IFASSEN, its own brand, it continued obtaining amazing results. Internationally renowned designers worked with IFASSEN on its various collections. Craftswomen are also free to design and propose their own creation for the brand, and various products have already been made by them.
Such was its success that ADF quickly developed strong partnerships with the ELLE Foundation and the Foundation HERMES, working on women's causes and social development.
Because recycling and preserving the environment is part of our activism, ADF organises awareness-raising campaigns on the environment every month in the region's schools, in addition to cleaning-up campaigns, the collection of plastic bags, recycling and reuse programs, educational programs and tree-planting.
Using garbage as a resource, IFASSEN attempts to play its part in helping people's mindsets evolve. Indeed, recycling is a rich process which should be integrated into mentalities, step by step.
And Facebook page : www.facebook.com/IFASSEN.