Dar Ouirgane volunteer

When i rang on the door bell of dar ouirgane i was greeted by a rush of girls, kisses on each cheek and a tumult of ca va? It was raining heavily and they hurried me inside. Such a loving, eager and enthusiastic welcome and really that is my overiding impression of Dar Ouirgane. The girls desire to learn has overcome any language difficulties we have had in trying new games and activities.

During our walks into the beautiful surrounding moutains i have been able to teach them some traditional children english songs as we march along. We have had yoga and kick boxing sessions on the roof, football in the garden, lessons in french and english on school subjects, baking, painting and a weekly quiz testing their language and mathematic skills. On the 27th of march we had a mini adventure to okcamedom with the girls from Dar Asni, everybody absolutely loved it.

After the holidays i hope to arrange a play in french based on a traditional fairytale, maybe snow white! I love it here.

Kitty Hardman.

New volunteers

Things are mooving fast in the houses!!

I said goodbye to the houses in March to go back to France…it was soooo hard!!
But i decided to stay involved with EFA so i’ll leave some messages on this blog to let you know what’s happening.
And you’ll have a lot more messages from the new volunteers:
Dar Asni welcomed Jenny Hitchcock and Emma Clayton ;
Dar Tinmel welcomed Angela Cooper ;
Dar Ouirgane (the new house) welcomed Kitty Hardman ;

They will introduce themselves and will keep in touch with us to follow their adventures.


Volunteering with Education For All

I began volunteering with EFA on November 2009. (It seems like it was yesterday!)

When I arrived in Dar Asni I was surprised, the house is so pretty and the organisation directed by Latifa is really good. The girls and both Latifa were so nice. One week after it was so hard to leave them and go to Talat N’Yacoub.

The first days were really hard. I was in the middle of nowhere, the girls didn’t know yet each other, EFA wasn’t well-known by the locals so they were suspicious, the house wasn’t started…I really felt like I couldn’t do it. But I began to build relationship with the girls and I realized how much they needed somebody to help them…that motivates me to succeed.

Then Khadija the gorgeous house-mother arrived and I felt immediately comfortable with her. Together we made a huge work; first with the girls who feel now like sisters and have changed (in many ways), secondly in the house which became really nice and warm, and finally with the community around Talat N’Yacoub who knows us, respects us, encourages us and helps us with our project. And all this with the help of the committee of course, who is always present and helpful despite the distance. And I thank them for this and for the trust they gave me.

I’m really proud to be a part of this project when I see how the girls have evolved. They didn’t only improve their marks at school, they became more open-minded, independent and have a better understanding of life. They are conscious that education is the key to their individual and collective future. They are becoming real women, the women who will change Morocco.

Karima Targaoui

A weekend at Khadija’s

After several invitations from Khadija Id Ahmed Ouali (a girl studying at Dar Asni) to spend the weekend in Imsker, I have finally accepted.

First of all, we went to Imsker the Saturday morning after school by what they called “the transport”… The transport is in fact a truck and we were Khadija, Fatima Zahra and me, behind, mixed to the other persons and their races. Imsker is at about 13 km from Asni but the road is really narrow and sinuous: I had the impression that I made rodeo during the road, it was really funny!

Upon our arrival we had a rest and I got acquainted of all the Id Ahmed Ouali family and also the animals… Yes! They have got two cows, three goats and a lot of chickens. Khadija’s mother also learnt me to milk the cow…well, she tried…

I was also amazed to see that they were cooking in a wood stove fed by branches collected at the top of the mountain (and transported on the back!). I spoke a long time with Khadija’s mother who explained to me how life was before, without water and electricity.

Even if life in the mountains is rather difficult, people show solidarity and are very smiling. I was disconnected from everything!

On Sunday, Khadija and I visited her family where we danced a little on Berber songs. Finally, we went to the river where the women of the villag e wash their linen. We were far from the modern washing machine with its economic program at 30°C!!!

We have taken advantage of this day to make family photos near the river; the air was fresh and pure. At night, Khadija made some bread filled with peppers, onions, liver and fat of sheep: it was delicious! We looked at photos in the family album and discussed for a long time with Khadija’s mother. This weekend was really enriching for me and I thank Khadija and her family for having welcomed me so well.


Quiet please, action!

Yesterday, a group from Germany came to Dar Tinmel to shoot a documentary about the house and the girls.
MishMashMe, the project’s name (www.mishmashme.de), wants to show how people are connected all over the world and what is the role of computers/internet in this connection.

They came because they were interested to know how is the education in the rural areas and how people who live in these villages far away from the cities are connected to the rest of the world.

They brought their equipment and the girls were impressed by the camera and the sound boom.

After an introduction of the team and some shoots in the terrace and outside, they gave out chocolate to the girls (the girls said it was yuuummy!). We had lunch and the girls had been shot during the meal. They were soooooo calm in front of the camera,it was unusual to have such a silent lunch!!

Then the computer lesson has been shot too with 6 of the girls and to finish, the MishMashMe team interviewed 4 of the girls to know more about them, how do they live and do they see the rest of the world.

We are impatient to see the result and we thank the team for this beautiful day.


Walk to Tinmel

Tuesday 7th was a national holiday in Morocco (muslim new year). A chance for me to go out for a big walk with the girls and visit the Tinmel mosque! Most of the new girls never visited this famous monument.

Nicola (last year volunteer) came to spend some days with the girls before going back to Australia.

So we walked and walked and…walked! It was a really slow walk with a lot of break to take pictures and drink water from the river. It was so nice even if it was cloudy. We took the hiking trail which allowed us to go through the village where “hdiden” is shooting!

What?? You don’t know Hdiden??? It’s a famous Moroccan tv show and the girls love it!

They took pictures in the villages and they were so exited!

Then we continued and something bad happened…something really really really bad…my camera fell and broke!!

Anyway, 2 hours later we finally arrived to the mosque, and every time I find it beautiful.

Before going back to Talat N’Yacoub we ate sweets and cakes and with Nicola we were the police officers “don’t throw your sweets paper!!”

And when we came back, most of the girls cheated and took a mini bus! And the other, more brave, walked to the house and arrived really tired but proud of them!

More pictures on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Education-For-All/85136160064


One week in Dar Tinmel

As I am volunteer at Dar Asni, I decided to spend a few days in the second house « Dar Tinmel » located at Talat N’Yacoub so as to get acquainted with the 20 girls there.

Talat N’Yacoub is at about 50km far from Asni and it is a village more isolated than Asni.
This week allows me to discover the organisation at “Dar Tinmel” but also to learn more about this area. Indeed, this place has got a lot of historical monuments and ruins such as Tinmel Mosque monuments dating the dynasty of Almohad. What most amazed me it is the fact that these monuments are in the wild state, without barriers of protection or entrance fee while the slightest historic stone in France would have been surrounded from everywhere!!!

What about the girls? Well, “Dar Tinmel” is not as big as “Dar Asni”; the city is more anchored in mountains, and those facts present assets but also bad points. Let’s speak about the negative side before! Power cuts, cuts of water, interruption of transport in case of plentiful rain and this can last all day long…with 20 girls in the house…imagine…
But it was also funny because we have to bring some water from the hammam: Karima, Khadija and me, in the rain with our buckets of water and wading in the mud, what a beautiful memory isn’t it girls!
Let’s speak about the positive points and there is a lot! First of all, the kisses. Well, I do not remember having made so many kisses of all my life! The girls kiss you the morning to say hello, then another kiss when they go to school then another when they come back to home and so on, 20 multiplied by 5, 6 or 7, in brief, you must be strong in mathematics! Moreover, the girls are really united, friendly and studious, and otherwise be not worried, the hurricane Khadija is there to make the order reign, isn’t it Khadija?

I really enjoy spending my time with the girls, playing houla houp and dancing on the terrace, going to the souk with them and having fun near the river! There are so many things to be said and to be lived at Dar Tinmel and Talat N’Yacoub. Thank you all: the girls, the two Khadijas and my friend Karima.

I arrived in Morocco the same day as the girls returned from their summer holiday. I was to stay in Dar Asni the first week then move up to Dar Tinmel the following, so I was kept very busy trying to learn the Khadija’s from the Fatima’s, as well as attempting oragami in order for me to teach them and painting one of the outer walls with handprints, as well as the token Scottish flag. The week flew by, all the new experiences blurring into one every passing day, like the language and food which were probably my two biggest hurdles and before I knew it I was on the winding road up to Talat N’Yacoub, a small, isolated burber village 50km deeper into the Atlas Mountains.

From then on everything was full steam ahead, I started to love the food (probably due to Khadija, the brilliant cook) and I managed to communicate with the girls with basic hand signals and broken French, or “Franglais” as I have recently heard it called. Everyone was very welcoming and soon I had got into my daily routine, this included a daily walk, sometimes on my own but usually with the girls, all bickering over who got to listen to my iPod! It was on these walks that I really got to know the girls and I was able to differentiate between the loud and the quiet, the cuddly and the independent, the cheeky and the shy- but most importantly they were all lovely, even when they were shouting at me (thinking the louder they say something the more likely I was to understand it, gradually most of them realised this wasn’t the case and gave up after a blank look and shrug of my shoulders!)

With 20 girls, 12 of them new and none of them having ever studied English I decided to start a programme called “English with Eily,” making 20 individual booklets containing the likes of numbers, the alphabet, weekdays, months, food, clothing etc. and I like the girls take charge of their individual cover designs. To encourage them further and to enable me to follow their progress I made a chart with the girls names and different topics we would cover, after a topic is complete the girl receives a tick, bringing a healthy touch of competition to the learning process. That is one thing I have noticed particularly about the attitudes of the girls here, they are all so willing and wanting to learn, wanting to prove themselves. Today for example I was sitting out on the Terrace with one girl who has been particularly struggling and we got through the alphabet, numbers (to 20), weekdays, months and animals, I was very proud!

In the evenings I have done some other activities with the girls, other than just English, teaching them to make origami fish (my speciality) and origami stars, a slightly more challenging and fiddly process which lead to me making 20 origami stars for 20 very confused little faces. Simpler tasks have been making snowflakes and tissue paper flowers which now line the walls. I have also taught them games, like Heads Down, Thumbs Up (a personal favourite) and uno, which was exhausting to say the least! The girls all love to sing, so I have attempted to teach them a couple of songs and hand jibes, and in return they have taught me a few more difficult ones that involve ducking down and concentrating hard!

The Terrace is beautiful and a place I have spent a lot of my time, the sun shines daily. Whether it be playing hopscotch which the girls, reading or listening to music (often with one of the girls who had come up and sweetly asked “musique, s’il vous plait Eily”). One afternoon I noticed the bare walls of the terrace and decided to paint the names of the girls along one wall, so they could do their hand-prints underneath. Hopefully in the following years it will become a tradition and the walls will be covered with lots of little hand-prints of the girls.

I have really enjoyed my time at Dar Tinmel, and although it has been difficult at times, being so isolated from everything I am familar with; the girls are so affectionate they make you feel as though you are really part of their community. I have also managed to pick up a little bit of the local language, which gets a lot of laughs. I hope the girls have gained something from me, as I have from them. Hopefully one day I will return to see their transformation from catipillars to the beautiful butterflies they are on the path to becoming.

Eily Craig

We made it to the summit!!

Living in Asni without climbing the Toubkal…it wasn’t conceivable. We always had an excuse…too tired…too hot in the summer…no time…But this time we were really motivated and last week end (30 & 31 October) we made it, Latifa (Dar Asni house mother), Fairouze (volunteer) and I!! We were lucky because the Kasbah took care of us, and we had a great guide (thank you Mike and Hajj Maurice 🙂 )

We left Dar Asni early in the morning on Saturday 30th to have breakfast in the Kasbah and we left Imlil at 10.00 am. We had a beautiful weather, the first hours were easy and we really appreciate the beautiful landscape. We had a sweet tea at Sidi Chamharouch and we stopped for lunch almost an hour after this place.

The Kasbah team was dealing with the food and as it was a trek we were expecting sandwiches…but they did much better!!! We had a real lunch with a delicious mixed salad and so and so…that we were full and can not get up and continue our trek 🙂
But we did and the afternoon was harder, we were tired, and change would have it that I was sick during the week end…grrrrrr
We were continually asking to the guide “where is the refuge?!” and he was continually answering “just here, behind this mountain” “yallah, yallah” 🙁
And we were so happy to see the refuge finally; around 4.30 pm…we were already proud of us even if we hadn’t done the hardest part…
The refuge was full of people from different countries and it was interesting to discuss with them around the fire-place.
We slept early…heuuuuu…Latifa slept early, she snored all through the night whereas Fairouze and I were trying to sleep…and we slept at 5 am but it was too late we had to get up to leave the refuge at 6.am.
And the climbing was really hard, the higher we climb the colder it becomes. We stopped several times and I can’t remember how many “yallah, yallah” I’ve heard from our guide!!! Poor guide, he will remember us 🙂
But he really impressed us; he was running on the mountain! It was crazy!!

We finally reached the top at 10.00 am! The wind was really strong but once in the summit we forgot everything and we just appreciate this amazing and so beautiful landscape around us…the guide once again surprised us because he took a lot of food out of his bag: bread, fruits, dates… 🙂

It was easier going down and we were back to Imlil at 7.00 pm. We spent the night in Imlil and on Monday morning we were back to Dar Asni where the girls were waiting for us 🙂
It was a good experience and we’ll do it again, we would run this time like our guide did 🙂


Two days of fun with the girlguiding UK

  • We had the opportunity to welcome the 27th and the 28th of October 2010 the girlguiding UK for their annual visit. Those two days were full of activities, motivation and enjoyment. The first day, we made two groups, one in charge of painting jars of garden with flashy colours and the other one was explaining to the girls of Dar Asni how to sew and decorate a bag, make key rings with pearls and realize plastic decorative objects which reflect the light. The girls really appreciated it as they love colours, discovering new things and new people. The fact that the girlguiding are older than the girls of Dar Asni was a huge asset because they were like their big sisters and the organisation worked very well! Even if there was the language barrier, it was not a difficulty for the girlguiding to understand what the girls wanted to do, to explain to them how to play typical English games and so on!!!

    The second day was dedicated to Halloween. We fund it interesting to make the girls discover Halloween and to explain to them what is its sense. While one group was continuing manual activities with the girls and making Halloween frieze, the other one were filling pots with flowers and cactus bought for the occasion. Then, after eating a delicious fish tajine we started emptying the pumpkin and making a cake with the flesh. It was really funny because nobody had ever made this recipe! Well, after a certain hesitation and confusion…we finally did it! It is a pity you did not stay longer girls to taste it! And what about the empty pumpkins? Well, we put candles inside and placed them in front of the door. When the girls came back from the school late in the afternoon, we all took photos all around the pumpkins.

You can find more pictures on our facebook page :