The BBG organised an open day on December 6th with the Espoir orphanage, one of the local charities supported by the BBG Marrakech. Located behind the vast CHU Mohammed V Hospital La Creche d’Espoir is not easy to find, but has a guardian at the entrance leading in to the courtyard with colorful wall paintings that indicate that it is a children’s orphanage. There are palm trees around a central open area where the BBG arranged stands for the occasion. On sale were Maddy’s Mitts -colorful mittens hand-knitted by Maddy Williams which raised over 3,000 dirhams. There were also a book stall run by Michael Roberts, a bric-a-brac stall run by James Cutting and Kati Lawrence, photographic prints from Alan Keohane, hand-made silk purses from Chris Williams and fresh-pressed oil oil for sale from the team at Jarjeer Mules. Additionally, light refreshments and cakes, prepared by Natasha Compton, were available.
Touria, the manager of the orphanage, greeted BBG members and a good number of Moroccan visitors. She explained that the orphanage was started in 1995 by a group of dedicated doctors and nurses. The Ministry of Health provided funds to buy the land for the orphanage. Espoir depends on private sector donations from organisations like the BBG . The Association L’Espoir is a recognised public utility number 202 882. The Espoir website is http://www.enfance-espoir-maroc.org/.
The nurses are salaried and look after a number of babies who are left at the orphanage so they can be cared for and adopted. There are currently 23 babies and four handicapped children at Espoir. The older children tend to stay on longer as prospective parents tend to prefer to adopt babies. The majority of babies (57 per cent) come from rural areas in the Marrakech Tensfit Haouz region. Some 25 per cent come from the city of Marrakech.
Upon entering the orphanage Alan Keohane, the BBG member who has been the driving force behind the BBG’s support for Espoir, shows me a room on the left where four elder children are standing up in their cots. Alan points to the new physiotherapy equipment to help the handicapped children exercise their limbs and gain mobility. The BBG pays for a qualified physiotherapist to treat the four handicapped children on a regular basis. One child, Omar, was almost completely paralysed but now, as a result of the physio treatment, can walk with a little bit of help. BBG chairman James Wix points to this as a real achievement. More physio equipment is required and a larger room is being prepared for the physiotherapy unit, and is now in the final stages of being painted.
In the past, Alan Keohane has directed the BBG’s support for Espoir having arranged for the purchase and installation of the air conditioning units, which also provide heating in winter. He was instrumental in arranging the regular physiotherapy sessions by a qualified practioner which are essential for the handicapped children. Despite his very busy life as an internationally famous photographer with his company Still Images, Alan has devoted much of his time to Espoir and has kept the committee and members informed on progress and the needs of the orphanage. The initial contact and support for Espoir by BBG members Marcus and Emma Joyston- Bechal played an important role in getting the BBG involved.
The Espoir building has a central corridor which leads to a courtyard with other rooms which will enable the orphange to expand its activities. The large light filled play room gives the children a good play area with French windows leading to a pleasant garden area.
A great day was had by all. BBG Vice President, James Cutting said that donations and sales from the different stalls amounted to over 15,000 dirhams which will help to sustain Espoir’s future expansion and shows what can be achieved when the BBG supports an occasion like the open day. Another open day at Espoir is planned for April 2016 when it is hoped as many BBG members as possible will be able to attend or send donations to BBG treasurer John Stobbart.
Please feel free to contact us regarding support of Espoir and the BBG’s continued efforts to assist the orphanage with future endeavours.