“Holidays for all” brings joy to thousands of Moroccan children
The "Holidays for All" summer camps for disadvantaged Moroccan children have been well received by the public and the government, which plans to expand the programme in the coming years.
By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 20/08/08
[Sarah Touahri] Moroccan Minister of Youth and Sports Nawal El Moutawakil said the government has plans to continue expanding the “Holidays for All” programme for children from disadvantaged families.
For the sixth summer running, Morocco’s Ministry for Youth and Sports has organised holiday camps for children and teenagers from disadvantaged families. The quantity and quality of activities on offer has improved and the number of children benefiting from the programme has risen from 49,000 in 2002 to 200,000 in 2008.
The programme is a partnership between the Moroccan government and a number of local charities, designed to give Moroccan children from lower-income families more options for the summer months of July and August.
Mohamed Kartiti, general secretary of the office that oversees the holiday camps, has said the programme consists of creating an educational, cultural, social and economic dynamic during the summer holidays.
“Since it was launched six years ago, the national ‘Holidays for All’ programme has achieved a number of objectives, particularly the increase in services available to the children during their summer holidays, and space being made available for holiday camps,” he said. The charities which run the camps enjoy support from the ministry for setting up the summer facilities, arranging the children’s travel and meals and providing staff, training and equipment.
Those who have benefited from the programme have expressed satisfaction with the operations.
“My children have never travelled, because I don’t have the money for it,” said Hanane Badran, the mother of two children who recently spent ten days in Ifrane. “Thanks to the ‘Holidays for All’ programme, they have just had the time of their lives in the company of their friends.”
Souad Batali, whose 12-year-old daughter attended a camp in Tétouan, agreed.
“She came back glowing and full of life. She also learned a lot of things, including songs and patience.”
Because of the programme’s past success, both the public and the government are interested in increasing the role summer camps play in children’s personal development. Officials say that well-equipped camps staffed with well-trained individuals could provide children an opportunity to reach their full potential through travel, meetings, exchanges, educational activities, sports, cultural exchanges and volunteering.
In order to achieve all these goals, MPs say the entire holiday camp setup needs to be reformed. To that end, Minister of Youth and Sports Nawal El Moutawakil has announced that starting next year, educational services at the camps will be strengthened in terms of training, service and leadership. A national debate will also be launched to work out a strategy to create large regional holiday camps and adopt a new approach to holiday management by 2020.
El Moutawakil added that charities interested in participating in the “Holidays for All” programme must have been active for at least three months, have a certain presence at the local, regional and national level, and include a summer camp programme in their annual activities.
15-year old Saâd Rakili who participated in the “Holidays for All” programme, told Magharebia that he would like to run one of the camps in the future.
“It’s an opportunity for children whose parents cannot afford it,” he said. “The operation has been a success thanks to the government, but also thanks to the charities and volunteers. So I want to be involved in the future, so that I can bring smiles to the faces of scores of children.”