Mike first visited Morocco in 1973 and started running educational adventure holidays in Morocco in 1978 with a small company called Discover Ltd. In 1990 Discover Ltd purchased the ruined Kasbah du Toubkal which opened its doors in 1995. The restoration and operation of the Kasbah was carried out by Mike’s friend and business partner from Imlil, Hajj Maurice. The team are committed to running the Kasbah in a sustainable way that gives benefits to the local community.
Cees van den Berg, EFA Committee
Cees runs Riad Azzar and Riad Siwan with his wife Maryk. Before coming to Marrakech in January 2004, he was working as Finance Director for Pillsbury (Diageo). After the acquisition of Pillsbury by General Mills, Cees worked for General Mills as Finance Director and Controller Europe. During his work for Pillsbury and General Mills, he was asked to do two jobs for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), one in Zambia and one in Ethiopia, enhancing local government in financial reporting, budgeting, and tax collection.
Maryk Stroosnijder, EFA Committee
Before coming to Marrakech from the Netherlands to run riads with her husband Cees, Maryk worked for five and a half years as project manager for the International Project Unit of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities on projects to strengthen local authorities, e.g. Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA) in Palestine. She worked as a Human Resources Manager for two years before coming to Marrakech.
Andrew has spent 30 years as a UK Secondary State and Independent school teaching experience, and is currently Assistant Headmaster Bristol Grammar School. He led a School trip to the Kasbah, Imlil in 1995 and has been visiting regularly over the last 20 years. He visited Asni in 2007 with a school group to dig the foundations for the first boarding house and has been working with Bristol Grammar students, parents and staff to support the project over the last 10 years. Andrew also represents the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) on the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel and provides training courses at the RGS for UK Independent School Educational Visit Coordinators. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and International Mountain Leader with extensive experience of adventurous school journeys.
Hajj Maurice (Omar Ait Bahmed), EFA Supporter
Known to almost everyone as simply “Hajj”, Omar runs Kasbah du Toubkal and has been closely involved with the work of EFA from the start. Well respected throughout the region, Hajj is more than a committed supporter. If anything needs doing, we know we can call Hajj and he will get it done.
Selouane Berrada, EFA Committee
A local Marrakchi and accountant. He is Gérant of the Travel Agency Mountain Voyage in Marrakech which was founded by Kasbah du Toubkal.
Latifa Aliza, Dar Asni Housemother
Latifa comes from Moulay Brahim where she was brought up with four sisters and one brother. She attended college in Marrakech and returned after graduation to take on the role of housemother at Dar Asni. This was a brand new experience for her and a huge challenge at the start. She works tirelessly to ensure that the girls are well cared for, as well as checking their homework and ensuring that they study hard. The great love and respect the girls have for “Soeur Latifa” is evidence of this amazing 29-year-old’s abilities and commitment. Illaria, a volunteer from Bristol Grammar School (which has raised considerable funds for EFA since the beginning), took Latifa to England in 2010. Latifa has become lead housemother for Khadija and Mina, the housemothers at Talaat n’Yacoub and Ouirgane.
Sonia Omar, Fundraising and Communications
Sonia joined EFA in 2013 to assist with growing fundraising and communications. Her background is in international human rights where she worked on different campaign such as women’s rights, refugee rights and advocacy for large organisations including Amnesty International. She is passionate about empowerment and was drawn to EFA due to the simplicity of the model and its direct results. Her favorite aspect of this work is connecting with donors and sharing the personal stories and results of the girls at the EFA houses through social media.
Karima Targaoui, Volunteer Programme Coordinator
Karima began volunteering with EFA in 2009, and is our longest serving volunteer. Karima, who is originally Moroccan but living in France, spent over a year supporting the girls at the EFA houses and in particular getting the most remote EFA house at Talat n’Yacoub running smoothly. She has seen first-hand the daily reality at the schools as well as the impressive results for the girls who she sees will become “the women who will change Morocco!” Her enthusiasm and care for everyone, from the girls to their parents and the local staff, has been a great support and inspiration, as well as helping EFA to build the necessary trust with the girls’ families (Karima speaks the local Berber dialect as well as French, English and Arabic). She still volunteers with EFA as the Volunteer Programme Manager and edits the newsletter.
Juanita Folmsbee, EFA Moroccan Association
Before settling in Marrakech in 2018 Juanita worked internationally for more than 30 years in development project management. She has worked both on US Government side for CDC and on the NGO side for organisations such as PATH and Management Sciences for Health (MSH). During her time at MSH she served as the Project Director for the SCMS project in Vietnam and the SIAPS Project Director in Ukraine. She was also a Global Program Manager on the SCMS project responsible for Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and Namibia. During her time with CDC she was the Deputy Program Manager for CDC in Haiti during the star of the US government’s PEPFAR Program.
Samira Govers, EFA, UK Board of Trustees
Being of Moroccan heritage, Samira realised at an early age that education in rural areas in morocco was not easily accessed by all.. Her passion for providing access to education was sparked by her mother who herself was impacted by this due to a remote upbringing. Before joining the board of Trustees, Samira and her family were already keen supporters of the EFA for many years. Samira is a graduate of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands where she was born and raised. After graduating she moved to London and worked in FX Sales at Merill Lynch and after taking maternal leave went back to work for a Fin Tech start up where she was Head Of Strategic Partnerships. She lives in London with her husband and two children.