The delight of sharing
At the entrance to this pretty building, Amine and Firdaous sit imposingly at the top of the blackboard where the results of the 230m race are listed in white chalk. Amine and Firdaous are two of the 240 children who benefit from the supervision provided by the Association, Solidarity MARATHON DES SABLES, presided over by Marie Bauer.
Inaugurated on 11 April 2010, the centre, positioned at the northern entrance to Ouarzazate, at a place known as Isfoutalil, in the rural village of Targmite, offers 3 to 5 year olds an early-learning sports experience, with an early-learning athletics experience for 6-11 year olds. In the two changing rooms (one for the boys and another for the girls), the children have carefully organised their things into small baskets. And here they are ready to go in their yellow Sport Eveil Académie uniforms. The wind is really blowing across Ouarzazate, kicking up clouds of sand inside the yard, but it would take more than that to curb the children’s enthusiasm. In the yard, amidst the flower garden and the olive trees, they listen attentively to advice from Touda Didi, a former winner of the Sultan MARATHON DES SABLES, as well as a sports supervisor, who fulfils one of six posts created by the association. Boasting a wealth of experience, she also provides them with all the basics to awaken a taste for sport in them. Last year, a group of twelve even went away to a residential centre beside the sea. A little later, they even got the chance to really get involved themselves before heading home.
Along the way, they may well come across sixty women from the Fémmissima operation, an initiative designed to boost literacy among women. In the classroom, in groups of twenty, they come once a week to learn to read and count. The women are of all ages and are keen to make up for lost time and fill in the gaps in their schooling, which had previously come to an end too soon. The aim is to teach them the basics, which will then enable them to complete administrative formalities and the like. To introduce something concrete to the lessons, a number of mini-projects are set up. A loom has just been delivered and two sewing machines are there too, at the back of the class. In the long term, a cooperative could even see the light of day.
In the neighbouring room, a whole group of little ones are sat quietly. On the tables are books and a number of educational tools. There’s also some music to get them moving and make them aware of their bodies, and teach them about balance and spatial awareness.
“It gets you right there, admits Abdelatif Benazzi, the former captain of the French rugby team, also involved in projects of this kind in Eastern Morocco and currently paying the centre a visit. To see such high quality supervision and the maternal nature of the women who work here, it’s very touching. Sport is a fun way to stimulate children. It enables some to really open up. Sport is a universal language as it’s the heart that does the talking. It redounds to the MARATHON DES SABLES to give back to the Moroccans a little of the happiness that the runners have experienced whilst running in their country.” In financing the creation of wells or more specific projects, the MARATHON DES SABLES has taken an extra step on the road to solidarity with Morocco. It is a long-term project with a budget of between 45,000 and 50,000 Euros and it is vital that it continues.
To see the smiles on the faces of these women and children and to hear their laughter, there is no question that SOLIDARITY MARATHON DES SABLES has been able to make a place for itself here and is managing to hit the right spot. Indeed, happiness is infinitely more beautiful when it is shared.