This is one of my favorite photos from my time spent in Morocco and it was the product of a very special day.
Some of the ISA students and staff, along with several of our Moroccan friends, spent a couple of weeks collecting donations for a donation trip to a small village in the mountains called Bouqashmir. Each student contributed and we collected as much money as we could to purchase blankets for the village (It’s COLD up there! Especially at night). We also brought along clothing, school supplies, soccer balls, and the University contributed a whole set of computers. The trip was unfortunately postponed several times but that just made everyone even more excited when it came to the actual event. The bus ride up to the mountains was full of music, drumming, karaoke, and dancing people – not to mention someone’s pet dog going up and down the aisle too. Everyone was happy when we finally arrived and we were almost immediately met by the director of the school in the village.
The director and head of the village showed us the town, which basically consisted of a couple of buildings for a school and another for a restaurant, with some other buildings half-constructed on the other side, explaining that they were trying to build housing for the students who have to travel far from their family homes each day (we’re talking severely rural here). We then got to spend some time with the students themselves, visiting each class, sitting with the kids, and explaining what we were doing there.
Afterwards, we all helped unload the donations we had brought, creating a big pile of materials that covered almost a whole wall of the restaurant before having a sort of gifting ceremony. Each ISA and Moroccan UMI student ceremoniously gave a blanket to one of the children from the village. The rest were left for the director and other village officials to distribute to those most in need. We also gave a couple of soccer balls to the boys and crayons to the younger girls. We ended up with one extra box of crayons and realized this young girl had been too shy to come forward. With some persuasion and a gentle hand, the director guided her up to accept her gift.
With many smiles and much celebration, we all took pictures before leaving the village. It was a rewarding experience for all and a day that will certainly be remembered by everyone involved.