Volunteering for Amis Des Écoles can be a life changing experience. If you are interested in volunteering for our organization, we can help you with room and board while in Morocco. Contact us at email@example.com to inquire.
During my summer volunteering for Amis Des Écoles, I had the chance to visit one of the more poverty-stricken regions of Morocco, Tata, which is a province located in the South West of Morocco close to the Algerian border. After a 10 hour bus ride from Marrakech, I arrived in Tata at 7am where I was welcomed by our dedicated Project Manager, Monsieur Alhilali, who was very hospitable during my stay. From arranging my transport, picking me from the bus station and letting me stay in his family home, he and his wonderful family did everything they could to make me feel welcome. After a delicious home cooked meal Monsieur Alhilali took me around the village and showed me the many different projects that Amis Des Écoles is working on in the region.
Besides date farming, there really is no viable economy in Tata. That is why the work of Amis Des Écoles is so important in regions like this. At this moment, Amis Des Écoles is working to renovate and supply a local school including two classrooms, a library, as well as building a wall around the school for safety. Amis Des Écoles is also planting hundreds of trees and a pedagogical garden around the school to create a safe outdoor space for the children to play and to learn. Improvements like this have a massive impact on the lives of these children. Currently the state of the schools in the region are very poor, with zero infrastructure and minimal school materials which are often outdated. Updating teaching materials not only makes for a better school experience, but also raises the confidence of the children who attend the school.
Another project that I was able to take part in was the Operation Lunettes. Thanks to big donations of reading glasses by the organization ESTRELLAPINK, Amis Des Écoles is able to distribute over 1,300 reading glasses to children and adults in Tata. Each day people come by the Amis Des Écoles office in Tata where the volunteers Meryem and Kawtar test vision, record names and distribute glasses to children and adults in the area. Reading glasses are a luxury for the locals, but at the same time are an absolutely necessity for those who are in need. Making something as simple as reading glasses accessible to children and adults who otherwise couldn’t afford them, makes it possible to read, work and overall improve an individual’s quality life.
On my second day in Tata we planted trees at the school that is currently being renovated. At present, Amis Des Écoles has planted over 6,000 trees in the region of Tata alone! Planting trees also mitigates the very hot climate in Southern Morocco. I witnessed children reading under trees which were planted in 2009, which is proof of the dedication and long-term commitment that Amis Des Écoles has provided in this region.
Besides the economic difficulties that I witnessed (here poverty rates are well above 50%), I found Tata to be a very beautiful place. The region is covered in palm trees and is surrounded by the Anti Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert giving it a very romantic and picturesque look and feel. Because the heat made it impossible to sleep inside, I spent the night under an incredible starry sky. These moments made me realize the potential of the region and I couldn’t help but think how many more tourists would visit Tata if they knew how beautiful and untouched this area is.
From my experience, the local people are very proud and generally don’t want to move to the bigger cities for more opportunities. They believe that with the help of organizations like Amis Des Écoles, the level of education in Tata will increase, and as a result new opportunities will be created, leading to greater economic stability. I am beyond grateful for this enriching experience and wish to return one day to help these kind and proud people in any way I can. Overall, I can say that spending my summer volunteering for Amis Des Écoles was an enriching experience that I will never forget. I met many wonderful people in different regions all across the country. If you are a student with a big heart, a love for travel and a desire to do good in the world, I highly recommend volunteering with Amal Zniber and her amazing team.
Clemens Mayer has been visiting Morocco for most of his life. Due to his love for the country, he started volunteering for Amis Des Écoles in the summer of 2019 in order to further discover and understand Morocco. Clemens studies Music Theatre Direction at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.