Visiting our charity
A commentary on our visit to the charity Hura proudly supports
As part of our desire to give back to the communities that we have the honour and pleasure of working with, we had the privilege of visiting our partnering charity, Education for All. Situated in the small rural town of Asni, the charity runs 3 boarding houses here for young girls aged between 11 and 18 to ensure they have a safe and positive environment to complete their secondary education. For these girls, this would not have been an option had it not been for these houses as they all come from very remote rural villages with no access to schooling without taking long, unsafe journeys often forbidden by their parents.
The houses offer 36 young girls full-board accommodation throughout the school week as well as study areas and extra educational support from staff and volunteers. All proceedings are overseen by house manager, Latifa. She made quite an impression on Hura founder, Cicely when she had the chance to meet her recently.
Latifa joined the founding house as the manager in 2007 and since then has seen much progress and positive change take place right in front of her eyes. She is far too humble to recognise the integral part she has evidently played in the continued success of the house. She began with a tour of the house, starting with the educational rooms, one of which is a relaxed environment housing plenty of books for the girls to bury their heads in, the other more of a classroom with a teaching board and several computers to encourage further study and to improve technology skills. In the corner I spot a rather organised board containing many charts, Latifa explains this is the timetable for each girl, who each has a tailored educational programme at the local school. It is evident that education really is at the core of this house, every wall is covered in literature written by the girls discussing their favourite subjects as well as their hopes and dreams for a future career. A popular choice is that of a doctor or teacher, although Latifa later discloses that regarding the former, once the girls grasp an understanding the gruelling years of study required, they swiftly change their mind.
It is not just education of the academic variety that is encouraged here, the girls are also taught valuable life lessons at the house too including washing, cooking and housekeeping. Latifa describes to me a scenario she sees frequently when parents come to visit the house before agreeing to their daughter to engage in the programme. She recounts one father pulling aside the chef and housekeeper and asking that if there was any free time around educational hours, for them to take his daughter under their wing and show her skills needed to become a good housewife. Morocco is a country steeped in cultural history, particularly in the more remote areas.
Perhaps the most revealing part of all our whole conversation was that to do with the boundaries and limitations these young girls are facing from within their own homes. Latifa explained about the attitudes of the parents of the girls at the house and how that impacts them. “This will come as a surprise to you”, she said, “there is still a hierarchy in Moroccan culture, in a family the sons are considered the favoured children and this is instilled most notably by the mothers.” Typically, at least one son from a family will stay living with his parents even when married and with his own children. This provides not only financial support for them but also from a physical standpoint too, they can help with any practical jobs. The daughters will generally be married at a young age, between 16 and 18 is ideal, after 20 a girl’s chances of marriage reduce dramatically.
We were interrupted by the return of the girls from morning class at school, much to my delight. They were cheeky, energetic and clearly very happy in their home here. The daily lunch was due to be served, a ritual relished by all involved at the house. The sense of camaraderie amongst these young girls is to be admired, all helping set up the tables, a hive of activity and energy.
Latifa is part of a generation of Moroccan women that are revolutionising mindsets in a hope to create prosperity and hope for young women trying to make their way in the world.
She is an open-minded visionary in a country still bound and led by tradition, the perfect figure to lift and lead this group of spirited, ambitious young women to lead their best possible lives.