Many people in Morocco’s rural Atlas Mountains drop out of education at a young age. It’s an issue that affects a number of things for the Berber community, not least their ability to learn and earn an income. Working to tackle this, the Eve Branson Foundation runs craft centres to provide the opportunity to learn artisanal skills that can lead to a future income for individuals and their families.
Through careful training and skills development, participating community members learn to create and produce high quality gifts including soft woven fabrics, embroidered home accessories, wooden carved jewellery, traditional Berber wool carpets and children’s soft toys and clothing – all which can be sold to help generate income.
The centres also help to preserve ancient Moroccan traditions in craft-making – embroidered Berber motifs even use the original symbols of the Amazigh Berber language to tell stories. Techniques include weaving on ancient foot-operated looms, embroidery by hand and carving and sanding reclaimed wooden organic structures, by hand.
Fatima Imni is one of the first young women from Tansghart village who learned to knit with Eve. Until the age of 12, Fatima attended the local primary school in the village but was unable to complete her schooling because the secondary school was one and a half hour’s walk from her village. Fatima loved Eve’s passion to teach the local girls new skills, and soon more than 30 girls began gathering regularly to learn to knit. This led to the creation of the first craft centre.
Fatima used to work in the fields of the apple orchard her family own, but was always very eager to continue her studies in order to help herself and her family. "When I started going to the craft house, I learned some English and learned how to sew, and then my items would sell and I started to make money for the very first time. I became independent. Now I can buy certain things l would like to have.”
Fatima successfully completed a tailoring programme in Tansghart craft centre and became an assistant to the resident teacher, Rachid. She also received retail training at the boutique at Kasbah Tamadot.
“Now I can make some of my own clothes and I worry less about the future”.
Now 27 years old, Fatima manages the Berber Boutique, responsible for displaying and selling items made in the crafthouses by her peers. She enjoys talking to guests and taking on new responsibilities – all the while continuing to make and sell her own products. Since taking on the role at the Berber Boutique, sales and income have increased for her peers.
“I will remember always, a ride up to Imskar with other girls from the crafthouse for a picnic, making music and celebrating together. I have put my feet on the right path now and l will never look back. I see my future clearly”.
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