FEBRUARY 2019 — BOUTECO will soon be crowdfunding for us to make a from-the-heart documentary about an inspiring charity in the Atlas Mountains which we hope will help improve the lives of underprivileged girls in rural Morocco — and beyond.
Soundtracked by girls singing in harmony, under the deepest blue sky, a group of us hiked Imlil's peaks last September — demonstrating varying degrees of suitability when it came to fitness and footwear. A group of journalists and editors from around the world, in Morocco for the travel-industry event, PURE Life Experiences, a big supporter of the charity Education For All. It was thanks to this walk amid such sunny soul-uplifting mountain scenes that we were all inspired and happy to be learning more about the boarding houses funded by Education for All.
Photos, Right: taken on my iPhone on the walk
As we chatted with these charming, curious, confident young women, we communicated through smatterings of English, a little French, with occasional Arabic phrases whispered back through translation. (It was so refreshing to spend time with girls who challenged the stereotypes of their teen equivalents in London who'd be solemnly glued to their smartphones!) Our hosts included the NGO’s patron, the genial and straight-talking British Ambassador, Thomas Reilly. As I clumsily stumbled along another steep stony path, he candidly and cheerily explained why he thinks the work of Education for All here in these hills makes this project one of the world's most worthy of being in the media spotlight:
"It's one of the most remarkable projects I’ve seen: Education for All is truly changing people’s lives.”
As a travel writer and hotel expert, I’ve known about Education For All for quite some time — since first meeting Chris and Mike McHugo and hearing about how their unique mountain retreat Kasbah du Toubkal helps fund the charity’s work. I'm a professional evangeliser of how hospitality businesses can be a force for good my interest is always piqued when I see purpose up there as a priority, and it has been heartening to hear about their incredible achievements in the last decade — earning Mike McHugo an MBE in the most recent round of New Year’s Honours.
This is why I have been inspired to work with filmmaker Kuba Nowak to give these young women a platform to demonstrate the positive impact has by their being able to access a secondary education. Kuba spent almost 10 days with the girls and their Imlil “families”, experiencing an extraordinary community of hope, learning, determination and love and care for humanity. As Ambassador Reilly put it:
"It would be great if this film could sensitise people to the role of women in society – show the importance of education for girls and the value of educating women from the economic point of view since they comprise 52% of the population and workforce."
Through our sensitive portrayal of the life of these teenagers and their successes (where futures might otherwise have been bleak), we will amplify the universal message that world change starts with improved education for all. We want to make a tender, touching, and beautiful observational documentary which reveals how gentle, yet powerful, human kindness is changing lives here in the Atlas Mountains.
As well as expressing some of the students' honest, intimate thought-provoking stories, we want our film to celebrate the dedicated, loving housemothers who are giving families facing poverty a precious chance for their daughters to fulfil their potential. Please do get in touch with us about how you can support our film — we will be crowdfunding to produce their 12-minute movie so that we can all continue to open minds, and raise awareness of the invaluable impact of girls accessing education past primary school and show how grass-roots charity initiatives such as ours can genuinely change worlds.
header and footer photos by Kuba Nowak.