Amezray Community Center Expansion

Zawiya Ahansal, Morocco

Amezray Community Center Expansion


Project Details

Minimum Fundraising Commitment: $2,500

Project Need: The Amezray Community Center was built in 2005 to house local association members, but the existing building is not sufficient to support current and future program needs and initiatives.

Project Summary: Surf For Life's onsite partner, The Atlas Cultural Foundation, met with the local Moroccan association Amezray SMNID and discussed their most pressing needs that match Surf for Life’s mission. The Community Center Expansion was identified as the top priority for Amezray. Surf For Life volunteers will participate in the construction of the building with local craftsmen and will provide hands-on support: including excavation, stone masonry, landscaping, concrete formwork and more. 

The remodeled building and new multi-purpose room will be used for:

  • Elementary School Tutoring Program for 80 students, 5 days a week, 11 months a year.
  • Adult English Language Courses for 10 students, 5 evenings per week, year round.
  • Computer Lab for use with the tutoring program and English classes.
  • Library for students and office for tutors and English language teachers.
  • Bi-annual association member meetings with over 130 attendees.
  • Annual Community Health Workshops. Topics include refuse, sanitation and hygiene, dental care, agriculture, food preservation and preparation, nutrition, soil and water quality and care.
  • Preschool program for 20 students, 5 days per week, 11 months a year.
  • Extracurricular activities (art, music) and end of year celebrations and theatre performances.
  • Cultural and educational programs for locals and tourists; carpet weaving, story telling, theatre, history lectures, etc.

About the Community: Zawiya Ahansal is a remote and mountainous region located between 5,000 and 12,000 feet in Morocco’s Central High Atlas Mountains. It is a high desert region with temperature extremes in spring and summer ranging between 32 and 110 F. It encompasses the high pastures and grazing lands of the Ait Abdi and Ait Atta tribes, two of Morocco’s largest and most powerful semi-nomadic and nomadic tribes. The current population of Zawiya Ahansal is between 10,000 and 15,000 people and includes permanent residents, transhumants, and seasonal nomads. This land is uniquely layered with a tapestry of tribal rights, pastoral lands and stunning natural beauty.  The local languages are Tamazight, Moroccan Arabic (darija), Classical Arabic, and French.

Development aid in Zawiya Ahansal is less than a decade old and exists on a much smaller scale than what is found in its neighboring regions and the rest of Morocco. This is due to remoteness, difficult living conditions, harsh weather and historical lack of basic infrastructure such as roads, health care, and electricity. 

Your Volunteer Trip: The 7-day volunteer program provides participants with the opportunity to experience rural Moroccan life, learn about Berber culture, and participate in a community development project in the remote Zawiya Ahansal region of the Central High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The following is included in the program:

  • Private round-trip transportation to and from the Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK) to Zawiya Ahansal (please arrive in Marakesh prior to 4PM on the first Saturday of your trip).
  • Lodging for 7 nights - double or triple occupancy with private bathrooms. (2 nights in Marrakech at Hotel Assia, 5 nights in Zawiya Ahansal at Dar Ahansal)
  • Organization of all logistics (food arrangements, lodging reservations, transportation organized, service work, local meetings, approvals for service work, and daily itineraries).
  • Pre-trip program reader and service program consultation.
  • Half day guided tour of Marrakech medina with a licensed guide.
  • Licensed Moroccan Mountain guide for two full day hiking excursions.

Health & Safety: Medical, rescue, and travel insurance are recommended. Proof of international medical insurance is required. 

  • There is a fully staffed government hospital in Azilal (80 KM away or about a 2 hour drive) with a 24-hour emergency room. In case of emergency we will bring volunteers there for any type of serious or life-threatening injury. 
  • For non life–threatening injuries we will bring volunteers to a private medical clinic in Marrakech (about 5 hours away) with European doctors. 
  • There will be a vehicle nearby and available 24-hours a day to transport our volunteers in the event of an emergency.
  • SFL trip leader trained in CPR and First Aid will be with the group at all times with an automated external defibrillator (AED) and Wilderness First Aid Kit

Internet/Phone: There is no Internet access in Zawiya, and cell phones only work in two of the villages. A Surf For Life trip leader will have a local phone with internet access for use in emergencies.

Alcohol: Drinking alcohol in front of or with locals and their families is not allowed out of respect for their culture and beliefs. 

Dress Code: Men cannot show their shoulders or knees and women cannot show their elbows or knees. This means NO shorts for men or women no matter how hot the weather is. Women do not need to cover their heads but may choose to wear a headscarf from time to time. Women do not need to cover their faces. Shoes must be closed toe running or hiking shoes or boots.



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