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One of our favorite parts of our work is that we get to learn about organizations that are doing amazing things for their own community in each country we visit. Here in Morocco, one of the first organizations we were introduced to was a women’s refugee center called El Amane, located in a very poor area outside of the medina in Marrakesh. El Amane provides single women with children a safe place where they can take classes and learn vocational skills to make money.
Often times, women who have a child before marriage in Morocco must find a way to provide for their family on their own. Women who are in this situation can come to El Amane to get counseling, learn to read & write Arabic and French, cook, bake, do hair & makeup, massage and sew. Our good friend, Laura from Germany, moved to Marrakesh to work specifically for El Amane, so she offered to take us there and show us around.
We began our tour by visiting the classrooms and meeting the teachers who teach the women how to read and write.
We also saw classrooms filled with massage tables and mirrored vanities, where women could learn about massage therapy and how to do hair or makeup. Next was the sewing classroom where we saw the women making colorful traditional Moroccan dresses that they would later be able to sell.
My favorite class room was the “sport” class where only women were allowed, so Jonathon couldn’t come in this one. Laura and I walked in and as we did, it was like walking into another world. The women were dancing & clapping to the traditional Moroccan music as it blared throughout the small room. It was a celebration, so the women took off their burkas and let loose as they danced together around a large table of food and lemonade. Everything about the experience was beautiful and taught me so much more about the culture we were living in. Before I knew it, the ladies grabbed my hands and I began dancing away with them all.
After a bit of food and a fun dance party, we continued our tour of the building. Down the hall from the sports room was a computer classroom that was taught by a very nice young Moroccan boy who spoke a bit of English. The women were in class learning how to use the different programs of Microsoft Office. It was wonderful to see these useful programs being taught in the community to people who might not usually have access to computers.
We then went downstairs and saw the cooking/baking class where all of the women greeted us with smiles and offered us chocolates they had just made. The chocolates were like homemade Reese’s peanut butter cups, but yummier and in the shape of a pretty diamond.
Overall, we were both so impressed with the work that El Amane was doing and what they were providing for these women. At the end of our tour, we met with the director to talk about the organization’s needs. We were eager to hear what her thoughts were on how Life Out of the Box could make a difference in the community. She taught us a lot and emphasized that education was the most important thing here & the best way to make a lasting impact. After a long wonderful meeting with her we were all excited about working together and what was to come in the future.
To learn more about the great work that El Amane is doing, click here.