Aliza with Project Manager Mohamed.
Shonali Banerjee and Aliza Appelbaum are In-The-Field Representatives for GlobalGiving. They are visiting projects in Morocco, Spain and France. Here is their most recent "postcard" from Morocco:
On July 1, 2012, Aliza and I visited two Dar Talibas or “student houses” that are sponsored by the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF). These two facilities were located outside of Marrakech, in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains and operate very similarly to the school featured in the project on GlobalGiving. Mohamed, one of the GDF senior program managers, kindly spent the morning showing us around the grounds and campuses, introducing us to key staff and walking us through the projects that he works on with GDF.
GDF provides the material resources needed to rehabilitate the school grounds with gardens and create a vibrant learning environment. The gardens are a source of nutritious organic produce for the students and pride for the school. Mohamed took us through the carefully crafted gardens and even took us to the library to show us the books the girls have created to remember all of the official plant names.
It was immediately evident that Mohamed felt very passionately about the Dar Talibas and the work that GDF has done in favor of education and women’s empowerment. Both of the sites that we visited housed girls between ages 11-16. Sadly, the students had all returned to their home for the summer, but the administrative staff at both schools kindly took us through the classrooms and dormitories, walking us through a day in the life of the students.
At the second Dar Taliba, the husband and wife team of directors proudly showed us the arts and crafts made by the students and a roster of recent test scores, indicating that their students had earned some of the highest marks in the district.
One of the stories that stood out to us most during our visits was that of Jamila, the 25-year-old deputy director of one of the schools, who had graduated from the Dar Taliba herself. She had gone on to high school in Marrakech after finishing at the Dar Taliba, and then went on to university in Rabat to study communications. Aliza and I had the opportunity to sit down with Jamila and talk to her about her experience. She talked about breaking down the cultural stigmas in village regarding girls going to school. She returned to the Dar Taliba after finishing her studies because of the strong connection and gratitude she feels towards the school. She also serves as the first female elected official from her village, and will be running for re-election next year. When I asked if family is proud of all she has accomplished, she smiled and said, “Yes, they are very proud. At first they were worried about me leaving the village. But now, they tell all the younger girls, ‘Look, if you study hard, you can be like Jamila.’”
Aliza and I were very impressed with the work being done at both Dar Talibas and look forward to hearing more success stories like Jamila’s in the near future!
News clipping from the King's visit to the school.
Shonali, Aliza and Project Manager Mohamed.
Mohamed walking through the Dar Taliba garden.
Photos of all the students at the Dar Taliba.
Aliza and Shonali with Jamila.