BMS Visit to Inna Hna
Written by Ella Williams, BMS Administrator
On Sunday 23rd October 2022 I had the opportunity to go with our Chair Mike Wood on a visit to Inna Hnna, one of the charities supported by the BMS. We were accompanied by BMS Member Camilla Goldback-Wood and volunteer translator Nawal Idmou, an English student at Cadi Ayyad University. The visit was kindly organized by Abderrahman Ijammaan, Founder and President of Inna Hna.
Inna Hna Association is based in Douar Baachirt, a small village around 2.5 hours drive from Marrakech on the road to Ouarzazate. Turning off the main road at Taddert, the final stretch to the village is only accessible by piste. Recent floods had damaged and washed away parts of the piste, making the drive precarious and highlighting the remoteness of this village which is often cut off for months at a time by snowfall in winter months.
We were welcomed to the visit in spectacular fashion – the entire village and neighbouring villagers turned out wearing traditional Amazigh clothes to welcome us with songs and dancing. This explosion of colour and noise was an amazing welcome after driving up through the remote mountains where we saw nothing but a few goats.
Abderrahman and other men from the village took us on a tour of some of Inna Hna’s main projects including the recently built wells, powered by solar panels, which provide lifesaving water to the surrounding villages. The wells became even more vital this summer when the springs which usually provide drinking water ran dry.
We also visited a multipurpose space built by the association which is used to run literacy classes for illiterate women, and a recently built space for women’s cooperative activities. This room was a hive of activity with women making carpets, preparing wool and working on traditional jewellery. In the winter months when the village is snow-covered, this room provides an important meeting space for women to gather, talk, escape the cold and work on projects which provide them with an income.
One of the most touching moments in the visit was the surprise of seeing what was waiting on the weaving loom – a carpet with the BMS logo and name. The women had been working on this for a month ahead of our visit. What made this even more astonishing was that these women, all of whom are illiterate, had carefully woven the words ‘British Moroccan Society’ into the design. We were invited to ceremoniously cut the rug from the loom to much excitement and applause.
After visitng some of Inna Hna’s projects, we were treated to a delicious lunch of chicken tagine, Moroccan salad, tea and tagoula – an Amazigh dish prepared with barley grits, served with argan oil, butter or honey.
Inna Hna is an incredibly active association. Abderrahman was born in Baachirt and works tirelessly to improve life for the people in the village. As well as essential water and irrigation works, supporting education through school renovations and providing school transportation, and women’s literacy classes, Inna Hna also carries out a vital winter campaign. The campaign includes distributing warm clothing, blankets, mattresses, essential food like oil and flour, and firewood to around 500 people. For some of these people, many of whom walk for hours from surrounding villages, these food parcels are what allows them to survive the harsh winter. Inna Hna also organizes medical visits to the village, purchases essential glasses and medicines, and carries out repairs to the one road providing access.
For me, this visit captured perfectly why the BMS exists – the BMS supports charities throughout Morocco, but one thing that we do differently is that we are able to support some of the smallest and most remote associations in Morocco. These associations often don’t have the capacity to apply to other grant making organisations, either because they don’t have paid employees with time to meet the bureaucratic requirements, or simply because they are based in remote villages without computers, printers and English speakers. The BMS is able to support these associations that are making direct impact at the most grassroots level.
Mike Wood said: “we are grateful to Ahmed Nait (our BMS representative in Marrakech) for helping organise this visit. It was inspiring to see how much the Association Inna Hnna has achieved and touching to see how much our contribution is valued.”