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Wednesday 21 April 2010

The visits

As the second week of the Easter holidays for the UK, the new term at Dar Asni has been welcomed in with many visits and events...

A group of sixth formers from Bristol Grammar School, who have done so much fundraising for EFA, came, bringing much mess and laughter in the form of hand-painting. Glee crept slowly across the girls’ faces as they realised that, yes, they were allowed to cover themselves (and the paper) with paint. We also made the Moroccan and UK flags... the girls were surprisingly patriotic for their own flag.

Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th April brought visits from a group of Girl Guides from across the UK.

The Guides introduced the Dar Asni girls to some classic Guiding activities. The friendship bracelet-making they brought kept the girls mesmerised, weaving coloured strands for a few days afterwards. There were also Sock Monkeys (yes, stuffed monkeys made from funky socks), which have since featured in an English lesson, taking photos of “What the Sock Monkeys did last weekend”. The Guiding movement is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year, and the Guides brought a many-multi-layered cake with them to celebrate.

The girls are very used to visitors, leaving whatever they are doing to join in the next new activity, and obligingly posing for photos. They show a great and very natural sense of hospitality and concern for all who come through Dar Asni’s doors.

Here in Dar Tinmel, little by little we have visitors who come to see the house and meet the girls.

All who visit us are amazed by the landscape here in Talat ‘n’ Yacoub! They also love the house and for those who have visited us before, they are impressed by the transformation we have made in the time we have been here.

Mike McHugo visited us in early March, along with his family and some lovely friends from France. They met the girls and then enjoyed a picnic lunch in the beautiful surroundings of the Tinmel Mosque.

British couple Brenda and Roger visited in late March. Brenda and Roger are annual visitors to Morocco and have seen the progression of Dar Asni, literally from the ground up, since the beginning some 3 years ago. They were very pleased to see the progression of the houses and enjoyed meeting the girls and new housemum Khadija. Visiting us here in Dar Tinmel this time was a priority for them and we are very grateful for their wonderful donations to both Dar Asni & Dar Tinmel.

Zoe and Anne also visited us during April. Thanks to Zoe and her son, we have ecological heating in the form of solar heaters in both houses. The solar heating has proven very useful during winter, especially in Talat N’Yacoub where, in winter, the temperature drops dramatically.

Volunteer Ilaria, who was based up in Dar Asni with Nicola during her time with Education For All, visited us along with Mike’s family in March and again in April. Ilaria came to Dar Tinmel with a fantastic Michael Jackson dance routine for the girls to enjoy. They loved it! No pictures unfortunately but I can guarantee you that housemum Khadija and cook Khadija can now also hit the dancefloor to Michael Jackson :)

Obviously Marijke, Cees, Hajj and Latifa came to visit us often and we hope that we will have more visitors and school visits soon. Inchallah!

Monday 19 April 2010

Hi ! My name is Ilaria :)

Having arrived at Dar Asni on the 8th February I’m coming close to the end of my time here. So much has happened and the time has passed too quickly – I don’t want to leave! As soon as I arrived the girls made me feel like part of the family – lots of kisses and hugs all the time and they are always thoughtful when you’re not feeling great.

The girls are all absolutely gorgeous and enthusiastic about everything I’ve introduced to them which had made volunteering here really rewarding – I can see they enjoy me being here and I’m making a difference.

I have been a passionate dancer since I was young and have seen how much Moroccans love music and dancing – so from day 1 I knew dance classes would be a success. Every evening when the girls come back from school I’ve taught a 1hr dance class, the styles varying week to week, including salsa, chachacha and Michael Jackson. I found that Michael Jackson and Salsa were favourites so they have had to be repeated but its great to see the girls practising around the house and even Samira has been chachacha-ing in the hammam!

The girls also love Art and really enjoyed Oregami, making stars and boxes out of paper, and now we have started to create an Art display which they can continue to add to with the next volunteers. The walks to Kasbah Tamadot have also been a great success with the girls and Latifa, also a great chance to practice my Arabic and the girls their English.

Cairo International School from Egypt came to visit on the 1st and 2nd of March – doing drama activities with the girls on the first day then building desks and tables on the second day to go in the girls’ rooms. It was a big success and it was good to see the girls have to confidence to talk with the students from Cairo and even help with the building and sanding-down of the furniture!

On Saturday the 6th March, the German Ambassador visited Dar Asni and everyone worked hard to make the day a success! The beautiful breakfast prepared by Latifa Khalti was delicious, Latifa and the girls worked hard to make the house spotless which impressed the ambassador greatly and also a big thanks to Karima for coming to represent Talat n Yakoub.

After the Ambassador’s visit, Latifa invited me to spend the weekend with her family in Moulay Brahim after a quick visit to the Souk to see the Jbbarr trying to cure people of their headaches and broken bones in ways which are not seen in the UK! It was a shock and definitely different to the doctors I had visited the previous weeks in Essaouira, Tahannout and the staff at the Health centre in Asni.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Welcome to Dar Tinmel...!!

I’m Karima the volunteer in the second house at Talat N’Yacoub.

Sorry, I’ve been here since November and I haven’t yet written in the blog! (Shame on me!).

I’m a 27year-old Moroccan/French woman; I don’t speak Arabic :( but I do speak berber, so that makes it easier for me to understand the girls here and help them.

I’ve done a lot of things since I’ve been here.

  • I help both houses but most of the time I’m in Talat N’Yacoub because Dar Asni is running very well now.

    The second house opened in September so we had a lot of things to do in the house, a lot of things to organise with the girls and the house mother.

    I also help the girls with their homework; I give them lessons to improve their marks at school (French, maths, English, IT). They began the school year with very poor levels in all their school subjects because the quality of teaching at their primary schools wasn’t enough good. But now, hamdoulilah, they are achieving better marks and they are all motivated to do even better and move up to the next class inchallah!!!

  • In the beginning of the year 2010 we had a new house mother who came to stand in for the other house mother. Her name is Khadija and she’s a 35 year-old Moroccan woman. It’s great to have her with us. She has a lot of skills and ideas which are really useful for the house and the girls.

    In the beginning it was difficult for the girls having a new house mother, changing the rules in the house…But now they understand that Khadija and I really love them and all that we do is for them. We want them to feel at home and we want them to get good marks and open(or expand) their minds. Now the girls are used to their new house, all is well organised, and we do more activities with them.

We had a big party when Khadija arrived, to welcome her and to celebrate some birthdays.

We also chose the house’s name: DAR TINMEL.

Nicola joined us a few weeks ago. The girls love her and are beginning to learn English. She also teaches English to Khadija.

Talat N’Yacoub is situated in the high atlas,one hour away from Asni. There’s a beautiful landscape and we are near Tinmel where there is a famous mosque built in the 12th century.

We went to visit the mosque with the girls. They were really excited, it was a beautiful day and we learned the story of the mosque. We came back at the sunset and the girls were really tired and they slept with a lot of happy memories!

  • Last week end was a big week end for all the girls! We went to Asni to visit Dar Asni and the girls there. And for some girls it was the first time that they had gone beyond Talat N’Yacoub, so it was a big adventure!!!

    We stopped at Ouirgane where there’s a big and beautiful lake and we arrived at Dar Asni on Saturday afternoon. We prepared some “msemen” (Moroccan crèpes) for the girls at Dar Asni and they gave to each girl a hand-mad
    e bracelet. That was really nice. There were 30 girls at Dar Asni, lots of noise and lots of fun !!! We had a big party on Saturday night ! In the beginning all the girls were a little bit shy but finally everybody had fun with lots of games, lots of dancing…!!

    And on Sunday, Damien Durand came to Dar Asni, a french cook well-known all over the world. We had a cooking class with all the girls, the house mothers and the volunteers. And this was the menu: “Salade niçoise”, “Mostelle pomme boulangère” (fish with potatoes) and “tarte fine aux pommes” for the dessert. The French cook brought a new experience for all the girls; they are used to Moroccan cooking! But they liked it and they really enjoyed being taught by a great cook!

    The Dar Tinmel girls left Dar Asni at 5pm and everybody thought that was a good idea for all the girls to meet for the week end!

And all the girls cannot wait for the next meeting...inchallah !!!