Return to Morocco – devastation and hope – can you help?

Return to Morocco – devastation and hope – can you help?

I am delighted to be writing this article while in Morocco – my first visit to see the people we work with from Education For All (EFA) since last September’s devastating earthquake.  It is wonderful to have the opportunity to catch up with our local partners, the house-mothers and girls in person rather than on the Zoom screen!

There is still much evidence of the devastation caused by the earthquake in the town of Asni.  Many people are still living in tents, many houses are in a state of disrepair or have been demolished altogether, and although some new houses are being built the process is inevitably slow.  All three of the Education for All boarding houses in Asni are damaged beyond repair and it was particularly sad to pay a final visit to Dar Asni 1 before its demolition. 

the ruins of Dar Asni 1

However Latifa and I took a short taxi ride to the neighbouring village of Ouirgane and I’m delighted to report that the EFA house there suffered relatively minor damage and that repairs are more or less complete.  EFA will certainly be able to house girls there again very soon.

Dar Ouirgane – ready to welcome girls again

The return of girls to the boarding houses is of course entirely dependent on the reopening of the schools – the whole purpose of the houses is to enable girls to attend secondary school (college and lycée), so if the schools are not open there is no point in reopening the houses.  Discussions regarding the return of students to their schools are complex and ongoing – however the primary school and collège are already open for some students, operating from a sea of mobile classrooms, and the Directeur at the college has indicated that the EFA girls, currently in school in Chwiter (a suburb of Marrakech) will be able to return very soon.  With similar messages from the college in Ouirgane it is looking increasingly likely that EFA will once again be operational in Asni from the start of the new school year in September.  They are currently trying to source a house or houses in Asni which they will rent to provide accommodation for the girls while their own houses are rebuilt.  This is wonderful news for us as it means we can once again start preparing volunteers for placements in Asni. 

Some of our e-volunteers have been working with EFA students this year, linking up with them in their temporary houses in Chwiter.  It has been great to visit these houses and to take part in two of these e-volunteer sessions alongside the girls – although unlike our e-volunteers I had the added bonus of lunch with the girls when the session ended!

online learning with e-volunteer Ruth

It has also been wonderful to link up with the house-mothers again.  This has been a very difficult year for them, seeing the boarding houses they worked in for so long destroyed, finding new temporary houses for the girls, getting used to living in the very different environment of Chwiter rather than Asni, working in teams of three in one house rather than each of them running their own house, and most importantly supporting the girls as they too adapt to this new way of life.  Some volunteers have worked one-to-one with house-mothers in the past – mostly online but sometimes in-country too – and this is something the house-mothers would very much like to continue.  This is very important to help them practise their conversational English (hard for them to keep going this year when they have had no English-speaking volunteers working alongside them in the houses) – but they also so much appreciate the friendships they have built up with the volunteers they have worked with.

with Latifa and all the house-mothers

So we are now actively seeking volunteers to work with this programme in Morocco.  We can arrange placements for those of you who would like an in-country placement sometime during the 2024-25 school year (or later), and also for those of you who prefer to work online.  We can arrange placements for those of you who would like to work with the girls and also for those of you who would like to work with one or more house-mothers.  Please do get in touch – everyone in EFA Morocco would so much welcome your support.  Email dianne@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk for more information.

To learn more about this programme follow this link:

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