‘Big Build Morocco’ suits Tom

25 Jul 2019

Casablanca, Marrakesh, medinas and tagines flavoured with saffron are a world away from wintery Christchurch, and Tom Davidson made the most of every Moroccan moment.

College’s Head of Boarding spent his July holidays on a Round Square ‘Big Build Morocco’ opportunity during which he and another 61 students from throughout the world spent 12 days in a village high in the Atlas Mountains.

“It was an amazing experience, making friendships with all the other students, living and working in the village of Tacheddirt at high altitude, and helping build a classroom for girls and a pathway from the road down to the village.”

Perched down a steep hillside, access to Tacheddirt was compromised, especially in rainy weather, so the Round Square team, working in three groups, built over 400 steps.

“It was hard physical work. We used pickaxes to form the steps, brought in rocks to pound in to the top of each to stabilize them, and mixed and poured over cement to keep them in place. While one group was doing that, another would be carrying bricks, cement and sand and laying bricks for the school room. The third group would be doing a cultural visit.”

Tom said the steps were virtually completed when they left, and apart from the roof and putting in the doors and windows, the school room was finished.

“We even got it plastered.”

The Round Square students stayed in a riad or hostel, ate Moroccan food, experienced a hike at high altitude, learnt about cooking traditional food, drank huge amounts of mint tea, and went to markets in nearby town Asni, where the sights at the butcher’s stall will long remain in their memories.

“Talking with villagers who were helping us with our work, and with the children who could often speak Arabic, Berber, French and English, was an amazing experience. But one of the coolest parts of the whole thing was meeting the Round Square group and finding out about their countries. Saying goodbye was hard.

“I’d definitely like to go back to the Atlas mountains. It is a very cool place, and helping those people was great, especially making the access so much easier for them all.”