Community Projects - Atlas Villages
High Atlas Mountain Villages.
Once you leave Marrakech and travel south you are in the environs of the High Atlas Mountains where the indigenous Amazigh people have lived for centuries in small villages.
Trekking and hiking brings you in direct contact with these remote rural communities and you can see them go about their daily lives for the most part unchanged for generations.
For me it is always an exciting and privileged moment to enter a new village and meet the locals. It is also sometimes difficult as you quickly realise that you want to help in some way, and yet, how to help without upsetting the delicate balance of the culture and traditional ways of life, how to help without it changing the way they view outsiders, some of them may have never seen a tourist.
I was lucky enough to meet a young man on one of my treks who spoke perfect English, Abderrahim lives in a small village on the far side of the Imlil River called Tinitine. Until a few years ago, it was completely cut off from the main road during times when the river was uncrossable by mules.
Now they have a bridge and minibuses and 4x4´s can get to the village with supplies. I asked him many things about what was needed and how to help without damaging the lifestyle. I also met with his mother and sat and had tea in his house, which led me to ask about bringing people to have lunch in a typical authentic Berber house. Yes of course, came the reply, delighted. I urged him to not alter things to suit their guests, that their way of life shouldn´t be changed. The room is full of colourful rugs and simple furnishing like the ones I have.
All villages have associations that deal with village needs and it is the presidents of these that we speak to about bringing items once we know what is needed.
If you are coming to Marrakech and would like to bring any of these items, we can take them when we have a trek or when we take people to visit these mountain villages and possibly have lunch.
What can you bring when you come on holidays.... or donate by post or sponsor.
Clothing for men, women and children suitable for the mountain climate and terrain.
Footwear as above.
Toys for children.
Personal hygiene items for women.
Household items for the kitchen.
Bedding and towels.
Outerwear, coats, scarves and hats.
School books, bags and stationary.
How can you visit these villages....
These villages can be visited as part of a day trek, or a multi day trek.
You can have lunch in a Berber house as part of a 4x4 day trip to Imlil from Marrakech.
Contact me if you wish to bring items to be taken to the villages.
Our ongoing project is helping the schools in a village called Tagadirt n´Ait Ali, in the Imlil Valley, High Atlas Mountains.
Three classrooms teach around 70 students as well as a kindergarten class. Like so many in this region, they would benefit hugely from some help. I visited recently and spoke to the teacher about what is required as a matter of urgency and for the longer term.
Heating for the classrooms as this village is sometimes at the snow level.
Perspex instead of glass for the windows.
A wall around the schoolrooms.
Stationary and books.
This can be achieved by directing funding for building materials and local labour, donations, setting up an association in your town or village to work directly with the association in the village here.
Come and visit, see for yourself and enjoy the local Amazigh hospitality and awesome scenery.
Trek to Make a Difference.
This video will tell the story ... May 2017, a 4 day trek to deliver donated goods including clothes for children toothbrushes, stationary for schools and first aid items.
This is the first of what I hope to be many such like events where people donate and then bring the goods and we organise a trek with mules to deliver the items to remote villages and schools in the High Atlas.
It is a very heart-warming, humbling and rewarding experience.
If this is something you would like to do... just get in touch.. talk to your friends, organise a group of people to come and trek, as well as rounding up friends, neighbours, colleagues and the extended community to gather items.