It all began in the winter of 2005, when my husband and I, then teachers in Casablanca, went with a group of students and teachers on a field trip to the Ait Bouguemez valley in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, a hard to reach area with harsh geographic and socioeconomic realities.
We were moved and impressed by the sight of the many daily struggles that both students and teachers in these villages faced. These isolated regions have difficult terrain, lack the most basic infrastructure and have a high level of poverty. These challenges directly impact the children’s access to education. As a result, many rural children like those from Aït Bougemaz, embark on life with a minimal education, placing them at a disadvantage in our rapidly changing world. We travelled back to Casablanca with a firm conviction and a strong motivation to bring change within our limited personal means. Nonetheless, we were motivated with a sense of goodwill and charged activism. Little by little we managed to engage a selfless group of volunteers, motivated companies and individuals to donate resources to our cause. Thus, began the collection of the necessary funds to launch the association’s very first project, a school renovation.
The project involved the renovation of the Aarous village school in the Ait Bouguemez region of Morocco, which was severely deteriorated and in disrepair. Thanks to the generosity of our first sponsors, our project was a success and we have not looked back since. Since 2005, we have renovated 315 classrooms, built and renovated 350 sanitary facilities, built 122 water fountains, planted 5000 trees, and distributed clothes and food in 7 different regions for thousands of school children and their families.
2019 is a big year for Amis des Écoles. It is our 13th anniversary and an opportunity for us to celebrate our achievements. Perhaps even more important, we are defining our path for years to come. While Amis Des Écoles has operated behind the scenes, focusing on our mission and our work, we realize that in order to expand our efforts we need to expand our visibility to show the world who we are and what we do. That being said, we are currently expanding our PR and digital media efforts to show in real time how your support and donations make a difference.
In addition, our goal is to identify partners and other complementary NGOs that will help us expand our efforts even further. For example, last year we began a beautiful partnership with Yanbow Al Kitab, a Casablanca-based children’s book publisher committed to spreading reading across rural regions through books and reading methods. To date, we have distributed over 10,000 books throughout 5 regions.
Sustainability is also a major focus for us in 2019. We are currently identifying ways to give teachers a more comfortable workspace and children a more suitable learning environment. We have plans to build a duplicable model for a sustainable school in Tata that doesn’t require a large budget and that can be built quickly and easily across the country. We also have plans to plant 7,000 trees.
Finally, our work over the past 13 years has shown us the importance of enhancing economic opportunities for the families of the school children. For young girls in particular, many of them are pulled out of school at an early age so that they can help their mothers with domestic tasks like washing clothing. By installing an automatic washing center in the village, the mothers can then wash the laundry while their daughters continue to attend school. With this extra time comes opportunities to learn new marketable skills. Our training center for carpet weaving, crochet, cooking and language learning, is in the finishing stages. We hope to open the center and begin our training program by Q2 of this year.
In order to achieve these goals, we need support from you. Not only in the form of donations and supplies like building materials, school supplies, food and clothing, but also expertise from professionals such as Doctors, Architects, Contractors, Grant Writers, PR Professionals, Bloggers, Graphic Designers and more. We are also always accepting applications for university-level interns who can help us with daily administrative work. (Please contact us at email@example.com)
As it has from the beginning, the Moroccan school child will always remain at the heart of our planning and will influence every decision that we make. The success of our mission – recognizing and promoting the dignity, equality and respect for school children in remote rural environments – depends on the support of individuals, companies, international agencies and NGOs. Without it we could not exist.
Thank you for your interest, passion and commitment to our mission. There has never been a more exciting time for Amis des Écoles.
Thank you for your support,