Origins of the British-Moroccan Society
Although the British-Moroccan Society was established more than 30 years ago, its original objectives still hold true today.
- Raising awareness and knowledge of Morocco in the United Kingdom
- Fostering commercial and economic links between the two countries
- Promoting tourism and cultural exchanges
- Encouraging greater social contact between the peoples of the two countries
- Raising money for Moroccan charities
It was in 1975 that Ronald Bailey (recently retired as British Ambassador in Morocco) got together with Captain David Russell, then Organising Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Animals in North Africa (SPANA)). Together, they set the wheels in motion for the formation of the Society.
Mr Abdallah Chorfi, the then Moroccan Ambassador in London, and Sir Anthony Nutting were approached to become joints presidents; and in October 1976 the Society was officially inaugurated with a reception at the residence of newly-appointed Moroccan Ambassador, Baderddine Senussi.
Over the years BMS membership has grown and now stands at more than 200 – although new members are always most welcome.
The Society arranges an interesting series of social and cultural events throughout the year; of which the highlight is the annual dinner each November. Thanks to the generosity of individual members and corporate members and the prizes they donate, the dinner raises thousands of pounds to help a variety of worthy causes in Morocco.
Objectives of the British-Moroccan Society
Morocco is a fascinating country with a very rich history. Moroccans colloquially speak an Arabic dialect known as Darija, as well as French in most business settings, and often English due to tourism being Morocco’s main industry, making it a truly “globalized” nation.
The British Moroccan Society has been working for over 30 years with local Moroccan charities to improve the state of orphanages throughout the country, to provide basic equipment to centres for children in difficulty and to help create classrooms and accommodation for young women from villages where schools tend to teach until they’re 12. They have contributed to build a boarding school near Tafraoute which houses 100 girls to allow them to study at the local high school.
To do this, the British Moroccan Society uses a variety of events in London and in Morocco to raise money and awareness. It has steadily increased its membership base to 200 and works closely with the Moroccan Embassy, the National Tourism board, Royal Air Maroc, the Bland Group and its subsidiary Travellink and a variety of local companies and interested parties.
To help the Moroccan people in their fight against illiteracy, the British Moroccan Society has decided to focus its efforts on the education sector in rural areas mostly (although not exclusively).
We are planning to establish 10 Learning centers in various areas of Morocco, in the Toubkal region, Tafraoute, Ouazzane Province and others. We already have a presence in some areas but we intend to build facilities to accommodate a library and a multifunction room. The library will provide books in Arabic, French and English and computers. We have started training a couple of local young literate women and men to be responsible for the upkeep of the books and equipment and of course to know how to use the educational programs.
Our first centre has opened in Talatast village (60 km from Marrakech) in June 2010 and reaches the whole region. This means that over 100 children age 6 to 14 have access to the library where they can study, do their homework and read. Because this center is also educating women to read and write, as well as teach Arabic to nursery children, it will actually access a vast amount of people. We have created 2 jobs locally.
We are now contributing towards a second Learning Centre in the Ouazzane Province, called Dar Lil-Kul Farraha.
See also: Charity work