Last Wednesday, I was in Asni, a small village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains at one of the Education for All dormitories. Those of you who have read my blogs before will know about EFA, but for those who have not, a quick explanation.In many rural communities, girls stop going to school at the age of 12, as secondary schools frequently have ‘gaps’ in their daily timetable (so a pupil may have classes from – for example – 0830 – 1000, but then no classes until 1300). Whilst it may be OK for a boy to roam the streets whilst they are not in classes during those ‘gaps’ it is less socially acceptable for a girl to do so. This results in many girls not going to school. EFA is tackling this problem by building dormitories for the girls near to their schools. The dormitories are run by house mothers who make sure that the girls get well-fed, schooled and looked after.But life is hard for the girls. When the first EFA dormitory was established 10 years ago, it was hard to persuade families to allow their girls to go. Now demand far exceeds supply as the benefits of education all the way up to the age of 18 become increasingly clear (83% of EFA girls go on to university – a strikingly high figure!) so EFA have had to apply very strict criteria to their intakes. Only the girls from the poorest families in the poorest villages are admitted to the dormitories.Two months ago, I was sitting in Chef Moha’s restaurant in Marrakesh chatting to him about another project, when it occurred to me that if he were to offer a cooking Master Class for the girls, it would be a ray of light in their lives. Chef Moha did not even hesitate. “Yes. When?” was his immediate reply.Fast forward to last Wednesday.I stayed in the Kasbah Toubkal on the Tuesday evening, a fabulous hotel which is beautiful at the best of times. But in the snow, it takes on a magical aura. You feel as if you are cut off from the rest of the world, perched on an outcrop at the end of the valley. To the right, higher up into the Atlas, the shoulders of Toubkal himself jut up into the sky, white-clothed and robed in snow, he is a wonderful mountain – I look forward to climbing him soon. To the left, the valley has a wonderful Spartan feeling – like something out of Ten Years in Tibet. The air is pure and clean and the night skies something else. If you haven’t yet been: go!On the Wednesday morning, we drove down to Asni, arriving before the lorry bringing the provisions, tables, cookers and plates. Chef Moha rang to say he was en route. Though the dormitory was sleepy, you could sense the anticipation rising. The lorry arrived and the girls, Embassy team and Dar Moha employees formed a line, like ants scurrying back and forth from the entrance to the kitchen. Soon the kitchen was full to overflowing and still the provisions rolled in.A cheer went up: Chef Moha had arrived. The Dormitory filled like the tide coming in – imperceptibly until you looked and the room was full to bursting. The tables were laid out – 10 girls had been chosen as the Master Class pupils. I was chef Moha’s sous-chef. The girls were so excited, it was absolutely wonderful.I was very nervous. Although I bake bread and croissants and enjoy cooking, I would not call myself a chef. Cooking with such a luminary was very scary!But Chef Moha made light of it all. Barking out instructions. Laughing and joking with the girls. Twirling ingredients and dropping dollops of magic onto the food. Before I had a chance to really take it all in, the food was cooked and ready.Food for 150 girls and a dozen or more hangers-on appeared. Tables were laid. Plates and glasses brought. Food was served. It was all so slick and beautifully done, that I didn’t really even notice how it was done.The girls and guests sat down to the most wonderful food.But it was not the food that I will take away – delicious though it was. There were two other things which had a bigger impact on me. Chef Moha gave us a lesson in much more than cookery. He is a mega-star in Morocco. Everyone I speak to has heard of him. Yet never, not for one second, did he exude any of the prima-donna type behaviour we have come to expect from mega-stars. He was modest, down-to-earth. Humble. He took selfies with the girls. Put up with my mindless banter with great good humour. He laughed, joked and set the whole dormitory on fire with happiness. That is real leadership. He is a true Ambassador for Morocco. A person to be proud to know and be humbled by his selfless generosity.And the other thing was the happiness of the girls. I have never seen 150 people look so utterly blissed-out happy for such an extended period of time. They loved it. When they burst into a spontaneous song of thanks to the Chef, it brought tears to my eyes – literally. It was such a simple thing to do, but it brought so much pleasure and enjoyment to so many people who don’t have many joys in their lives: they brushed shoulders with a mega-star and he embraced them with his warmth. It was glorious and it reminded me of how much in our daily lives we take for granted.And that brings me back to EFA. Many of us take universal education for granted: we should not. We should remember how lucky we are.What could possibly be more important than ensuring that girls get a decent education up to the age of 18? Giving them that enables them to realise their own potential. Failing to do so risks locking them into a cycle of poverty, early marriage and lost potential, potentially robbing a country of the economic potential of 50% of its population.EFA offers girls a route out of that cycle. The lives of the girls at EFA have been and will be transformed by the power of education. EFA offers them and their communities an exciting, new and different future, releasing their potential for the benefit of Morocco. That is why I am proud to support EFA and why I was so happy to have been able to bring a little bit of joy and happiness into the hard lives of 150 young people yesterday.The British Embassy is proud of its ongoing association with EFA. We will be entering a team into the Marrakesh Atlas Etape on 22 April which is raising funds for EFA. More details are at: https://www.marrakech-atlas-etape.com/. We look forward to seeing you on the course!More generally, helping girls to continue their education is essential for Morocco’s economic development, so if you have ideas about how we can help, please get in touch and let us know!
During a time when we’re all looking for safe adventures in smaller towns with outdoor activities, Hendersonville, N.C., checks all the boxes. Located just south of Asheville, this Blue Ridge Mountain town is surrounded by Pisgah National Forest. Hendersonville’s vibrant downtown and creative culinary scene combine with its natural setting to make for a well-rounded destination. Hendersonville has one of the most welcoming downtowns in the region. Stop by the Visitor Center on Main Street for a map of shops, restaurants, museums and more. Photo by Sam Dean. MorningTake an informative hike at Holmes Educational State Forest. What was once a nursery developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s is now a living classroom with five miles of trails, including the “talking trees” trail that educates hikers about different species and their uses. The Gorge Zipline promises spectacular views of Green River Gorge. Photo courtesy of Gorges Zipline MorningGo full throttle at The Gorge Zipline. Billed as the steepest, fastest zipline in the country, the experience includes 11 ziplines, a sky bridge, and three rappels. As you cruise through the treetops, enjoy the pristine view of 18,000 acres of preserved Green River game land. Day 1 Fun FactWhen Hendersonville was established in the 1840s, one of its founders decreed that Main Street should be wide enough to turn around a wagon pulled by four horses. That early planning continues to serve the city well. Today the curvilinear Main Street is pedestrian friendly with public art, outdoor dining areas and flowering brick planters. Day 2 AfternoonEarn your pint of beer aboard Hendersonville’s pub cycle. HVL Pedal & Brews books tours to downtown breweries and tasting rooms. Five breweries lie within pedaling distance. Those averse to cycling shouldn’t fret—an electric motor will kick in if you give out. EveningBook a spacious room at Cascades Mountain Resort. Kids delight in the indoor pool with a 110-foot water slide, while adults enjoy the secluded hot tub. The hotel’s Old Orchard Tavern has a full bar serving craft spirits and an award-winning chef who wows diners with well-executed nightly specials. AfternoonHit the trail at the brand new Ride Kanuga mountain bike park. Founded by world-champion downhill racer Neko Mulally, the park features 12 downhill-specific trails suitable for all ability levels. Located on 1,400 acres at Kanuga Camps & Conference Center, the park’s trails descend from Wolf Mountain through old-growth forest. Cover photo: At Ride Kanuga, start at the top of Wolf Mountain and choose one of 12 trails — from beginner to expert — to reach the bottom. photo courtesy Ride Kanuga VisitHendersonvilleNC.org EveningDowntown Hendersonville is home to 25 independently owned restaurants. Choose from authentic Italian, funky tapas, traditional Carolina ’cue or farm-to-table fare that showcases some of western N.C.’s finest producers. For a nightcap, head to the rooftop bar at Shine or The Poe House, a cozy spot that’s a favorite of locals.
Comments Published on January 25, 2014 at 10:14 am Facebook Twitter Google+
EGBA warns Danish tax hikes could boost offshore market June 8, 2020 Related Articles Share Thomas Black- My4Copenhagen-based start-up My4 is the latest industry incumbent to tackle betting’s social conundrum, seeking to change the ‘way people think of betting’.Led by former Telenor DK senior strategist Thomas Black, My4 is developing a betting/fantasy sports hybrid app, where users can participate in betting tournaments/challenges against friends, communities, and other players.To date Black and My4’s enterprise team have raised €1 million in venture funding. The start-up’s mission is to make ‘betting more accessible and fun’ for wider sports audiences.Furthermore, My4’s seeks to leverage the social engagement dynamics and differing opinions that draws audiences to watch sports content, a factor that the company believes has not been addressed by industry sportsbooks.In its latest enterprise update, My4 details that it has secured the support Danish technology expert Thomas Albert, Co-founder of e-commerce platform Sitecore and former Carlsberg Group marketing leader Keld Strudahl.My4 will seek to develop and launch its initial product for the Danish sports betting market, before moving to the UK… Will My4 be the start-up that breaks betting’s social engagement block? Submit Altenar: Supporting expansion plans in Denmark and Portugal August 20, 2020 Spillemyndigheden adds technical requirements on game and wagering reporting June 23, 2020 StumbleUpon Share