CHANGING THE WORLD, ONE EDUCATION AT A TIME
PURE’S OFFICIAL CHARITY, EDUCATION FOR ALL, UNCOVERS THE REAL VALUE OF EDUCATION FOR WOMEN IN RURAL MOROCCO
WORDS BY NICOLE TRILIVAS
In our quest to Change Worlds, PURE supports Moroccan-based charity Education for All. Introduced by PUREists Chris and Mike McHugo from Mountain Voyage Morocco/Kasbah du Toubkal, Education For All has become part of PURE’s core identity. We caught up with Mike McHugo and some of Education for All’s participants to see the impact our community’s support is having.
For those who may not be familiar with the concept, tell us about Education For All.
Education For All builds boarding houses for girls in the remote and rural region of the High Atlas in Morocco. We realised many girls from the surrounding villages were not going to school because there were no schools close to their villages and their families didn’t have enough money to send them to the government boarding houses. We responded by founding Education For All in 2007.
We started with 10 girls in rented accommodation. The following year we built our first boarding house for 36 girls. We now have five houses. September 2015 will see 164 girls from the ages of 11-18 years and 18 girls at university in Education For All’s care. The project is strengthening due to the great results from the girls who study at our houses; increasing popularity amongst families to send their girls to our houses; and growing support from funders and individuals around the world.
PURE’s tagline is Change Worlds. How does Education For All Change Worlds — of the girls, volunteers and people who visit?
We believe that changing the world starts with educating girls and that by educating girls you educate a whole community. If girls are not educated, it has an impact on the family and therefore society at large. Not only is having an education a basic human right, but it also supports the flourishing of all of society. Literate mothers can make better decisions about their health and the health of their families, and national economies thrive when women are contributing their skills to employment.
We also see that our project enables people to reach their potential. Whether the girls at the houses, the international volunteers or the local staff, everyone learns so much from working and living together, experiencing cultures different from their own, and learning how to cooperate and share skills and knowledge together. We have also seen positive changes in local attitudes towards educating girls since we began. There is much more openness and support.
What does the future hold for Education For All?
We now have five houses, which itself is evidence that the project is working and is valued by the local community and is attracting support. Our vision is to give as many girls as possible in rural Morocco the opportunity of a full secondary education and to continue running and building houses where they are needed.
Our future depends on the generosity of others and so, depending on the funds available to do this, we will shape our plan accordingly. This could be maintaining the houses we currently have well into the future (we need about €1,000 per girl to cover running costs) and it could mean building more houses, including some in different areas.
We are lucky to have the support of passionate individuals, schools and major donors. We are approaching foundations and corporations for funding, as well as building the annual Marrakech Atlas Etape cycling event, all of which we hope will create a solid funding base to move forward with our grand yet flexible vision.
PUREists believe that true wealth is measured not in physical possessions or monetary values, but by the accumulation of priceless experiences that shape who you are. Tell us, how does working for Education For All enrich your life?
As EFA’s fundraiser, one of the priceless experiences I have is meeting with the house mothers, staff and girls regularly throughout the year. I am always touched by their warmth and openness and also inspired by the way the girls appreciate their education and are determined to make the most of it. When one considers the culture in the villages they have come from, it’s obvious how much courage they have, and their parents too.
In 2013 when I started, the first five girls passed their baccalaureate and went to university in Marrakech. This was such a wonderful time for everyone involved, to see these girls join the project when it first began and then see them at university — the first in their villages to ever get so far in their education! This year we will have 31 girls at university and expect many more. I took it for granted that education would be provided for me growing up, and it is humbling to see that this is not the case for many girls around the world. From this comes a passion to ensure that this is provided for all in any way I can.
Another beautiful aspect of my work is being reminded day after day about the generosity of others. We receive donations and messages of support from many people. Some people run marathons, some raise money from their birthdays, some cycle from London to Marrakech, some climb mountains, some raise money in their school, and some companies donate a percentage of their profits to us each month. The natural altruism that humans possess never fails to move me. I’m so grateful for all our supporters, including PURE, as without you we wouldn’t be able to put our vision into action and these bright and diligent girls would not have the future they deserve.
We asked a few Education For All participants at different stages of their education about how EFA has changed their lives…
Beginner: “I enjoy learning languages. I speak my local language, Arabic, French and now some English. I would like to be a geography teacher.” — Nora, 12 years old
Intermediate: “I like mathematics and would like to be a doctor. Without higher education, all there would be for me is marriage and children. I want to become a doctor so I can improve people’s health and their lives.” — Fatima, 16 years old
Graduate: “I started with Education For All when I went to Middle School. I always considered Education For All a second home. This education helped us continue our dreams and to have more and more dreams. [Education for All] are changing a world; they are changing a society.” — Khadija, 20 years old
Khadija started at the first Education For All house in 2008, and is now studying biology at the University of Marrakech. Eventually, she wants to return her village and expand innovative farming techniques to increase food production for her village and surrounding villages.
For more information or to donate or volunteer, visit www.efamorocco.org.