Gretchen – Dar Ouirgane

Hello, bonjour, and salaamualaikum, everyone!  I’m Gretchen and I’ve been volunteering with Education For All in their third house, Dar Ouirgane, since the middle of February.  After graduating university last May, I was looking to go abroad for a longer period of time and to use skills I had gained in school (particularly with languages) to volunteer with education.  Remembering EFA from a research project I’d done a few years back, I thought it sounded like a perfect fit—a wonderful way to serve while also living in and learning about a culture that had fascinated me for quite a while.

Well then, after a long flight from the United States and a week getting myself oriented in Dar Asni, I finally made it to Dar Ouirgane!  In these first couple of weeks, I was so struck by the landscape (breathtaking), the weather (so much sun, but still so cold!), and, of course, the twenty-three girls I would spend the next four months with.  They, along with Mina, the house-mother, and Samira, the cook, were all so welcoming and outgoing, and the girls are most of the time quite enthusiastic to work on their French.  While it was certainly a challenge initially to work with so many schedules and to work around the near-constant changes in those schedules, I finally devised a plan for working with the girls in groups and sometimes individually.  We work primarily on French and sometimes math if an exam is coming up but, if we can, we also try to make time for English and computer lessons. 
Of course, any house would be a little dull if it were all work and no play and we certainly make sure to schedule a little time in for fun!  Whether it’s going for walks to the nearby reservoir, practicing the cha-cha and waltz in dance lessons, or attempting to try sushi with chopsticks, we try to mix it up with different activities to ease the pressure of classes, especially if they become stressful.

We’ve also been fortunate enough to take part in a few events with other EFA houses.  In early April, a few of our girls as well as a few girls from Dar Tinmel and Dar Asni met up in Marrakech along with members of the committee to participate in a bike event in Marrakech.  Several streets were blocked off for a 10 km course allowing us to cycle around the city.  While there were a few unsteady moments for everyone on their bikes, it was such a treat to see Marrakech in this unique way with the girls.
At the end of the month, then, we all got together and celebrated the annual Open Day.  This began, of course, with visits and a generous spread of snacks at Dar Asni, which then lead to a delicious lunch together at the Kasbah du Toubkal.  It was really wonderful to spend the day like this with some of our girls and to meet some of EFA’s supporters, including a few former volunteers.  On top of that, we were lucky, too, to have a day of really beautiful weather!

Though I’ve only been here a few months, I’ve been so impressed by the hard work the girls are putting into their studies.  Even in just this short time, too, I feel like I’ve seen their confidence with French really grow, especially speaking it.  There are still, of course, occasional nouns or adjectives that don’t agree or a misused verb here or there, but they’re working hard and I believe that will come in time.  When I think about how they are just in collège and already working on their third language and even enthusiastic to learn English, which will be their fourth language, it really amazes me (especially when I consider that they’ll be learning their fourth language at the same time I began studying only my second!).

Well, as they say, time flies when you’re having fun and sometimes I can’t believe we’re already in the middle of May, nearing the end of the school year!  Everything is full-steam ahead and we’re all certainly very busy as the girls get ready to take their final exams.  This has put a bit of a halt in some of my own lessons with the girls as we focus on material specifically for the exams, but here in the house we’re working hard to help the girls end the year on a successful note!  Until then, I guess it’s back to work for me—thanks for stopping by and checking out EFA’s volunteers’ blog!

Doro – Dar Ouirgane

My name is Doro, I´m 19 years old and I´m from Germany. After finished school I was for a social year at a school which teaches after the main principles of Maria Montessori and then for 2 months at the German-Jordanian University in Amman, Jordan. Voluntarily I gave extra lessons for children with migration background in topics like German, math, history and biology and was part of a group which cares about the rights of refugees in Leipzig and Saxonia.

During this time I´ve recognized that education is one of the most important values to save the future of a child. I decided to participate in “Education for all” because education is necessary for children and I´m very lucky to be here.

Dar Ouirgane is a lovely place and a very well organized house. The girls, the housemother and the cook are very friendly and open-minded. Together we teach the girls in French and English in very different ways. Also we play football, go for walks and have during the day a lot of fun.

I feel that I´m welcomed here and this is a wonderful feeling.

Luise – Dar Tinmel

A salam alaikum to everybody out there! A new school year has begun, more girls have moved into the houses and there are so many things happening…

Let me start with introducing myself a little bit. I’m Luise from Germany, 20 years old and proud of being one of the current volunteers for EFA! After having spent time in the U.S. and France in order to improve my foreign languages, it was important to me to finally do something contributive, to meet people with a different background and to get new impressions.

During my first week in Morocco I got to spend time with Latifa and the girls at Dar Asni. I was impressed by the daily schedule, their pensum of homework, and at the same time a bit overwhelmed by my task, which was simply to“assist the girls in whatever way and help with the chores“. Luckily, there was Dorothy, an experienced teacher and short term volunteer! Together we discussed how to create working groups, how to encourage the girls that are really struggeling with their French and how to support the ones that are already enjoying it.

Whenever there was some spare time, they took me for lang walks around Asni and to the souk, which was like a big bowl of potpourri so many people, perfumes and colours!

Eventually though, it was time for me to take the grand taxi to Talat N’Yakoub! Getting futher into the Altas mountains and to the place I was supposed to stay for several months, I fully realized that I was truly in Morocco! It was so exciting!

The Dar Tinmel girls were a bit shy at first.. Naturally, it took some days for us to really connect. But playing “uno“ on the terrace, going for walks to the river and washing the daily pile of dishes together, helped bringing us closer. First there was a lot of smiling, followed by a lot of talking and joking.

In the middle of October we were happy to welcome Latifa, Dorothy and Dorothee (Dar Ouirgane) who came to visit Dar Tinmel. And only one day later, Maryk brought friends of hers from the Netherlands to see the house and to share the Friday’s couscous. It was a real pleasure having them! Because the house is so far away from Marrakesh, visits are rare, unfortunately..

During my first weeks, Khadija and I managed to combine the seven different schedules and to establish little groups for me to work with. And after I had memorized all the names and gotten an impression of each girl’s character and needs, things started to go pretty well. We re-did the girls’ profiles, painted the tables and organized a birthday party for everyone!

By now I feel like I’ve settled in. I love how everybody is so friendly and eager to try new things.

They’re a group of bright young women, serious and driven in their studies but playful in their free time.

I’ll let you hear more about them as my time here continues!

Visit of the Kasbah Tamadot & school party

It seems like it is just one party after another here at Dar Asni. First there was the open day, then the party for Mouna’s and Cook Latifa’s return and Jenny going and now we have mint tea at Tamadot.

Jenny has the idea that it would be a lovely treat if she and I took the girls to Tamadot for tea. They live so close but have never been in. So we emailed then and asked if this would be possible and how much it would be. They got back to us saying tit would be their pleasure and the tea would be free. So after much towing and throwing trying to find a date it was decided we would go on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th of May. When Tuesday came the girls where so excited and kept asking me “Tamadot today?” “You go Tamadot?” “I go Tamadot?” When I said yes to these they would then hug and kiss me, say happy there are and thank me.

It was raining when the time came to leave, both on Tuesday and Wednesday. This did not dampen the girls sprits though and they where singing away in the transport that Tamadot has sent for us. As soon as the girls got through the gate they were silent. I had to encourage them all up to the front door with them clinging on to each other and me. They were so overwhelmed by its beauty. Senna, 1st lesse, said “It’s so beautiful!” In an awe struck voice and the other girls agreed. Then we were ushered through the door by the lovely Ariane, Deputy General Manager, and up the stairs to where we would have tea. It was a lovely court yard with swimming pool in the middle, which had rose petals floating on the surface.

The Tea was brilliant; we had traditional Moroccan mint tea with little pastries and cakes. The girls where very shy at first but with help from Idris, who works at Tamadot as well as doing our gym club, we managed to get them to relax a little. After tea a very proud Idris took us on a tour of the grounds. It was breath taking. The girls where so amazed by all the different plants, swimming pools, works of arts and most of all the amazing gym. Idris was like a proud father as he showed us around and took hundreds of photos for the girls.

Then it was time to leave as we all had to back in time for gym. After it being hard to get them through the front door it was now hard to get out of the door due to the amount of photos being taken but eventually we made it. All that was talked about for the next few days was Tamadot and how wonderful it is.

The week of Tamadot had come in the middle of exams for most of the girls, so it was a welcome break. By the Friday a lot of the Lesse exams where over and some of the girls were having parties with their classes. Khadija Ait Hmed and Samira, both 1st lesse, invited me to go to one of these parties. I had to be ready to leave at 8am as the party was to be held in a couple of lesions which had finished but they still had lessons the rest of the day. So off I went carrying a huge tea pot full of mint tea. When we got to school it turned out the girls had not ask the director if I could be there. So we stood in his office whilst he asked about me and told the girls off. I felt just like a naughty school girl again, stood up straight with my hands behind my back and eyes down looking ashamed. Eventually he said that I was able to stay and so off we went with many thank yous. When we arrived at the class room all the tables had been pushed to the edges or to the middle to make one large table. On this table sat 3 yummy cakes, plates and glasses. It had been decorated with rose petals and looked very lovely.

The room was full of boys and a few girls all dressed nicely and which the laid table it looked like it was going to be a good party. The only thing which spoilt it in my opinion was the fact the floor was so filthy, it was covered in mud, rubbish and cigarette ends, which I found out later they were the teachers from when he smokes during lessons. The music got going the boys had brought a sound system, a drum and a Moroccan guitar. It took a while for everyone to get up and dance, the girls where shy and very outnumbered due to the fact that there are many more boys at the school and in every class. But in the end the whole room was filled with people dancing. I danced with Samira and her friend, trying to copy them with limited success. Everyone was laughing and joking and having a good time, it was great.

Just when I was wondering when we where going to eat the cakes the director came in. He was not happy! It turns out that they had not asked permission to have a party. There seemed to be a theme developing, everyone seems to do just as they like. The director told us all off teachers included and said to turn the music off. As soon as he was out of the door the maths teacher got up and turned the music back on. We did however quieten down a little and it was time for cake, which was very yummy. After cake it was time for hundreds of photos. Another thing I have noticed about Moroccans, they like to take a lot of photos. After the photos, which took a long time, it was time for lesions and for me to go. The party was really good and the girls who had not finished their exams yet were jealous but they will get their party soon.

Marathon in Asni & walk to Oukaimden

On Sunday 8th May 15 of the girls from Dar Asni took part in a Marathon, organised by the Kasbah Tamadot and Kasbah Du Toubkal. The girls ran/ walked 8Km and men ran 19Km. It was said to be a great event and created lots of excitement throughout the whole valley.

The fastest girl at Dar Asni was Zahra Amizl, 1st Lesse, and she came 5th out of all the girls. The girls where all very stiff the next day, the girls who did not race found it very amusing to watch them all hobbling around. However the pain was worth it as the three fastest girls, Zahra, Sanna Ait Omar and Fatiha Id Ali, will be getting a trip to Marrakech thanks to of Mother Latifa. This is to encourage all the girls to take part next year. A big well done too all the girls who took part.

I unfortunately did not get to see the marathon as I was at one of the girls house, Fatiha Bouchaka, who is in first collage and has very little english. This was a good chance for me to practice my new tashlahid skills. This was not the first time I had been to a girls house and so I thought I knew what to expect. However after 3 hours in the back of a crowed van I knew I was going to be higher and further away from Asni then before. Then we carried on climbing up a rocky path. Finally we turned a corner and I got my first sight of her village, Tachdirt. It was spectacular! As i got closer I could see that there where several gites in the village. I asked Fatiha about this and she explained through many hand movements and 4 different languages that Tachdirt is on the popular trekking rout from Imlil to Oukaimden. She also explained that “tomorrow we will be walking to Oukaimden”. I was wondering how i was going to cope wearing only small impractical shoes, when I decided that I must have not understood her properly. I soon forgot about this though when I reached the house and was introduced to her mother and father. We had the traditional mint tea followed by a tajeen. We pasted Saturday afternoon by lazing around watching TV and taking a stroll around the village. Then to bed early after another lovely tajeen. This is the sort of weekend I was expecting and wanted after a hard weeks gardening but it wasn’t to last.

Just as the sun was peaking out from behind the mountains and the birds where starting to sing, it was time to get up. This was very early for a Sunday, all the other times the girls have had a nice lie in. It soon came apparent to me why we where up so early, we were walking to Oukaïmeden. So after a hearty breakfast Fatiha, Rokaya and I where on our way.

Just a little further up the path we saw tourists and the girls decided it would be good fun to catch them up. So off we went running up the mountain side. When we caught them up they were shocked to see us, all rapped up warm in little shoes no bag and only a small amount of water. This is understandable as they, looking most other people who trek in the mountains, had shorts and T-shirts on, walking boot and a big bag full of water, food and other emergency equipment. They where even more shocked when I told them we would be going to Oukaïmeden and back in a day. It is about 17km to Oukaïmeden up and over a pass and then back down the other side to get the bottom of the barrage at the bottom of the valley.

We said good bye to the tourists who were having a sit and carried on walking up in sun surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains. After several hours of walking we all of a sudden reached the pass over and there in front of us was the valley of Oukaïmeden. It was stunning completely different from Jenny’s snowy pictures of the day trip. The valley was green with new growth and there where wild flowers everywhere. As we walked down surrounded by vibrant greens, yellows, pinks and blues, I watched the butterflies flapping around and felt at peace.

In the basin of the valley was the lake and barrage. It looked like a painting with the clear blue water, green mountain sides and bright yellow daffodils. The closer we got the more wonderful it became. A strange noise was coming from the lake; we were all wonder what it was, as we drew closer to the edge the ground leaped up. There were hundreds of bright green frogs sunbathing in the grass desperate to escape our approach by jumping into the water. That is when I realised what all the noise was, hidden by the flowers around the edge of the water was thousands of frogs all singing their mating call. After a stroll around the lake and many pictures at the barrage we went to Rokaya’s brother’s house for lunch. And then we started the long walk back up the mountain and down the other side. We where all so tired when we got back that we went straight to sleep. It was such a wonderful day and I was so glad that I had done it even if I was tired and stiff the next morning.

Emma Clayton

How time flies!

I cannot believe that my 10 weeks at Dar Asni are nearly over, just 1 week left.

The weather improved eventually and the house was so much warmer and then it changed! It became quite chilly and wet, winter woollies again!! Today it has changed for the better-blue skies and sunshine. I hope that my last week here will be a warm one, both inside and out!

A lot has happened since I wrote before. A big event was the EFA Open Day and the opening of the new house at Ouirgane on Sunday 1st May. This was a lovely day. The girls from Dar Tinmel stayed at Dar Ouirgane on Saturday night and helped with last minute cleaning and tidying on the Sunday morning. Samira, the cook at Dar Ouirgane had made heaps of biscuits and msimen, tea, coffee and fresh orange juice for a delicious mid-morning feast. Mike and some of the girls gave speeches and then the house was officially opened by Nigel and Angela Parker. At lunch time everyone headed for The Kasbah Du Toubkal to meet the Asni girls and for another feast-salad, tajine, couscous and fruit. After lunch the girls entertained us all with singing and dancing. An amazing day of food and fun! It was so lovely to see all the girls enjoying such a special occasion.

In March the girls from Asni were joined by the girls from Dar Ouirgane for a day trip to Oukaimeden. This is Morocco‘s largest ski resort. We all had fun playing in the snow and some of us ventured to the top of the mountain on the ski lift- I was encouraged to go by some of the girls but was terrified, I’m not good with heights!! We had a yummy picnic and ended the day with mint tea at a cafe.

I spent a weekend at Dar Tinmel with the other volunteers. We went on a trip to Tizi’n test, a beautiful region in the mountains. The drive there was a little hair-raising though-really narrow winding road with steep drops!! Just before returning to the house we visited Tinmel mosque, such a beautiful place but unfortunately it was late so a little too dark to fully appreciate its magnificence. This weekend I am going to a girls house, she lives at Talet N’Yacoub so I am hoping for a daylight visit.

It’s exam time at the moment, many of the girls are spending a lot of time revising so have less time for activities. Emma and I have started to spend time in the garden doing some weeding- we hope to get all the invasive weeds out so that it is easier to maintain. Future volunteers this would be a great job for you to continue!

The girls here are so lovely. It has been great fun getting to know them and doing activities with them. I can see that their English language skills are developing, sadly my Arabic is not doing as well! I have loved being in Asni. I think the locals are getting used to us visiting the post office, wandering in the crowded souks on Saturday and buying goodies-chocolate, biscuits and yogurt- in the shops. I will so miss these experiences; the local people are so friendly and welcoming. Taxi rides are another thing I will miss, 6 people squashed in a car driving at high speed on mountain roads! Emma, Angela and I caused a stir when we caught a taxi to meet Kitty in Ouirgane, it was raining, we had lots of bags and were carrying pick-axes and rakes, the workers at the garage watched and laughed, I wonder if we made their day!

My friends and family have been very kind and sent craft kits and games. I think the girls were as excited as I was when the parcels arrived and enjoyed helping me open them. My nephew and one of my nieces and her class at school have written letters to the girls with pictures of their school. I hope to get all the girls to write a short letter back. My niece and her classmates cannot wait for me to deliver the letters and to show them pictures of the girls and of Morocco.

Emma and I have arranged for the girls at Dar Asni to have tea at Kasbah Tamadot (Richard Branson’s Moroccan Retreat), sadly I will not be here when they go on 17th and 18th May but Emma will take pictures for me. We were invited to tea and for a tour which was lovely and it enabled me to see the place. It is beautiful but very expensive. We hope the Kasbah will maintain links with the charity via their website and guests who wish to donate to local people. Emma will tell you more once the girls have visited.

I think I had better stop my rambling now. I hope this will inspire you to visit Morocco, volunteer for EFA or to donate to such a worthwhile charity.

Jenny Hitchcock

Dar Asni volunteer II

Hi my name is Emma and I arrived at the same time as Jenny so I thought she could do the first blog as we are both at Dar Asni together. I am also from England but I did not know jenny before we arrived. As I have been here for two months now I have got used to lots of the differences and I find it easy to with my hands apart from cous cous which still goes everywhere.

The thing I still find most difficult is gym. The girls at Dar Asni along with House mother Latifa, Jenny and I go to the gym twice a week. the gym club is run by a kind Moroccan man called Idris, who works at Tamadot, Richard Branson’s place. As well as doing so very vigorous aerobics we also learn self defence moves. These can some times be very tricky and it causes many giggles when I get in a muddle with them and fall flat on my face.

Last week my mother came for a visit. She stayed with me here in Dar Asni for a few days. She helped me teach some of the older girls how to give someone directions in English and played lots of games of pairs, which is the game of the moment, with the younger ones. Also during the week I went with my mum up to Dar Tinmel to visit the girls and Angela up there. Whist we where there we taught the girls to make friendship bracelets with some wool my mum had brought with her. The girls really enjoyed this and made some lovely brightly coloured creations.

Later on some of the girls really wanted to show us the Tinmal Mosque but it was too hot to walk there so we all pilled in to the back of a van full of moroccan men on their way home after a day souk. My mum was shocked at how many people we managed to fit in, a mere 28. When we arrived at the turning to Tinmal we all hoped out and started the steep wending walk up to the top of the hill. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, there was a light breeze and the air was full of the sounds and senses of spring. Then as we turned the last corner the mosque came in to full view. It was stunning, the sun on the walls and the snow capped mountain in the back ground. The girls proudly showed us around spectacular monument and then all of a sudden it was time to go as it was getting dark. We then spent a wonderful night playing games on the roof terrace with the girls until it got so dark we could no longer see. In morning it was time for my mum and I to head back to Dar Asni but we had had a great time with the girls at Tinmal who are so lively and happy. The girls can always be found on the roof terrace playing a complex game of stones, which I have yet to master.

In what seemed like no time at all it was time for my mum to leave. But as we said good bye to one visitor we said hello to another, Binkou the tortoise. He was given to the girls by the boys at the government boarding house, who found him outside. Mother Latifa decided to paint him bright colours so that he would be easier to find. All the girls have been really excited about having a pet especially one so good at hind and seek.

The girls are very busy at the moment with exams and spend much of their time revising. This has given Jenny and I the chance to get outside and do some gardening. Not only have we been doing our own garden but we also went up to Dar Ouirgane. They had had lots of plants donated on the open day by Andy which needed planting. So with the help of Kitty, Angela, Mina and some of the girls there we made the garden look beautiful. Mina is now very proud of her garden and I hope Andy will be happy with what we have done when he next visits.

I am really enjoying my time here and I can’t wait for next few weeks, we have some exciting things planed but I will tell you all about then later.

Emma Clayton

Week end in Dar Tinmel with the volunteers

This week end in Talat n Yacoub we enjoyed the company of our 3 other EFA volunteers, Kitty, Jenny and Emma! On Saturday the girls enjoyed computer lessons, crafts, and games; then on Sunday we took the girls out. While originally our plan was to visit the Tinmel Mosque, Khadija had the idea of making a big outing to the nearby mountain, Tizi n Test, a popular tourist destination in the Atlas mountains known for its stunning scenery. We headed out at 11am in the yellow Transport Scholaire minibus with picnic gear in tow. It is a long, twisty road to the top, and we had quite a few carsick girls (including me!), so we made lots of stops for fresh air and to enjoy the view.

The singing was quieter on the extra twisty parts, but we had Berber songs the whole way through, courtesy of the girls. Finally we arrived to our picnic site, which was a beautiful clearing beside a waterfall. We all enjoyed our Moroccan sandwiches , oranges, and sweets (with Jenny on garbage patrol), and then exploring the beautiful mountainside or lounging in the sun playing games. After a couple of hours here, we continued upwards to the forest, where the girls had a long walk and enjoyed seeing some animals- we stopped along the way to try to spot a gazelle, but unfortunately no luck. They were very tired when we arrived back at the bus- but not too tired to sing again the whole way back! Before returning home, we stopped at the historic Tinmel Mosque- while we were too late for regular visiting hours, we were lucky to find the man who keeps the key! He let us in for a look, and it was amazing to watch the stars come out and feel the peace inside this beautiful monument.

It is really nice for the girls to have an outing like this, as they would not often have such a chance with their families or be able to afford it (EFA covered cost of transportation to make it possible).

For me, it was so nice to explore the area with the girls and also to see some of their villages as we passed them on the drive. We were all reminded of just how important the house is especially for our Talat girls; we were really taken by the remoteness of their family homes.

The girls were grateful for such a fun weekend and are really looking forward to the weekend after next where they will see their friends from Ouirgane and Asni for Open Day!

Angela Cooper

Dar Tinmel volunteer

On my way to Dar Tinmel, I stopped at Asni with Karima where I met the girls, Latifa, Mike, and a couple groups from England; all of whom were discussing their continuing travel plans. Some will go on to Imlil, maybe Tahanout, Ouarzazate, the house in Ouirgane- but Talat n Yacoub? No, too far, but they wished me luck. An hour of twisty road later, I arrived at Dar Tinmel.

The house is beautiful and comfortable, and the girls are lovely. Days are busy here- the girls wake up at 7am, have breakfast and do the washing up, and then have classes or activities until 5:30pm, eat, wash up, and then work again until about 10:30pm. They are always doing something, and put a lot of effort into their school work- which is particularly necessary in Talat, where the education system is at a lower standard than other less remote places. The girls speak Tachlehit, do their school work in Arabic, and are learning French; although the girls here are too young to have started learning English at school, they are eagerly retaining the new vocabulary I teach to them, and mastered ‘Simon Says’ in less than hour.

There is certainly a lot to adjust to; in the short time I’ve been here I have already experienced the power and water outages, roads turned into mud, and very cold weather (I was very grateful to find the sweaters Karima left behind!). So far I have enjoyed going for walks with the girls to the beautiful river near the house, games on the terrace, colouring and English & French lessons. They love to play and to help me pronounce words in Berber and Arabic, which I do not do very well!

The girls really appreciate the opportunity they have here, and they make the most of it. I am really grateful for the time I have here to spend with the girls, and I look forward to the following months, which I hope will be full of learning for all of us.

Angela Cooper

Dar Asni volunteer

I arrived at Dar Asni on a cold Sunday afternoon, the 6th March. My first impressions were that it was a lovely big house but so freezing cold. How was I going to keep warm as I hadn’t bought many warm clothes!!

Luckily Karima had left jumpers and leggings, very welcome extra layers. I have never worn so many clothes at once inside! Bed time was challanging, changing quickly into pyjamas and then diving under loads of blankets before getting too cold!! Thankfully the weather has now warmed up and the house is much warmer inside, I am now hot in bed and only wearing a T shirt indoors.

On Monday morning the atmophere in the house changed completely as the girls started arriving for the week. It was so nice to see the house full of happy, friendly girls who have such enthusiasm for learning and working hard to acheive. The girls have busy school timetables and lots of homework but are keen to take part in activities with the volunteers. Many are really interested in developing their English and love help and encouragement to develop this skill. It has been great fun making games and activities to help with this. They are like sponges and quickly absorb and learn new information, I wish I was able to learn and remember like they do!

Pick up sticks has been a huge success, we have played this for hours! Playing Happy Families has been fun. The girls can be very competitive and sometimes get over excited, it is so nice seeing them having such fun. Making friendship bracelets has also been good. It was quite chaotic having about 8 girls round a table all making bracelets and needing some help. They grasped techniques quickly and completed beautiful pieces. The only problem was the bundle of threads at the end, it took several girls quite sometime to sort it all out ready for another session!!

The food at the house is delicious. I have really enjoyed eating the Moroccan way from one big dish, this is something I will try with friends once home, it is much more sociable and saves on the washing up!! I hope to learn how to cook some of the dishes, particularly cous cous and besara.

I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to stay at one of the girls houses for a weekend. This was such a good experience. The family were so welcoming and so pleased that I was visiting them. Food is their way of expressing their thanks that you are there, volunteers need to be prepared to eat alot of food and not to worry about their waistlines!!

We have just had a school holiday (3rd to 13th April). It has been nice to travel with the other volunteers. We spent time in Marrakech and Essaouira enjoying the sunshine, walking on the beach, shopping in the souks and soaking up the atmosphere. It is now back to reality, the girls return to the house on Wednesday. I have lots of ideas and activities prepared to support the development of their English and French, I just hope they enjoy them.
Thats it from me for now. I will write again before I finish my time here at Dar Asni.

Jenny Hitchcock.