Many weeks have passed since a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, just seventy kilometres from the city of Marrakesh, and the devastation is beyond anything that most of us could even conceive. The earthquake was the strongest in Morocco’s history, powerful enough to destroy entire villages, killing and injuring thousands of people. And survivors will forever live with the memory of the world around them splitting apart, decimating their homes, stripping them of everything they own, their livelihoods and security.
But how might this feel for a child? So reliant on others, whose world is small and sits comfortably within the safety of their home, their classroom, and the arms of their loving parents. Where is there space to simply be a child amidst such tragedy and fear?
In the clamour to donate the basics of food, clothing and shelter, we must remember that children need learning, play and imagination. They are essential to their development and mental health. The ability to ‘be kids’, despite violent upheaval and chaos, may just be what is needed to help the scars heal.
However, getting such resources to children in the aftermath of a natural disaster isn’t easy. But in partnership with Association Moltaka B'ladi pour la Citoyenneté, Canon Central and North Africa and Canon Middle East have mobilised colleagues and their families to come together to create packs of printed booklets, pencils, pens and more for delivery to hundreds of children in the most affected areas of Morocco.
Designed to lift their spirits, the printed books feature a character named Amal, which means ‘hope’, who guides them through a series of meaningful activities:
Pictures to Colour
Widely understood to be a meditative and mindful activity, colouring can provide the children with a temporary mental escape from their stress and worries, as well as giving an outlet for creative expression and a sense of accomplishment.
Creative Park Paper Crafts
Crafting of all kinds can be a truly social activity, and giving children an opportunity to focus and problem solve together is a valuable way to boost their confidence and support their mental well-being.
Hakawaty Stories of Hope
In the Arab world, the ‘Hakawati’ is a kind of storyteller, who would enthral listeners, young and old, commanding huge crowds. In the spirit of this tradition, Amal shares a selection of stories with narratives especially crafted to inspire and empower these young readers.
A huge number of crafty items were donated by Canon colleagues to accompany the books, which were printed at speed using Canon technology and delivered directly to the volunteer team. Many brought their own children with them to the office to help create these packs for youngsters who have lost so much. And, as a result, it was also a day of togetherness, learning and reflection.
In the wake of such a heartbreaking and catastrophic disaster, being part of these collective efforts across the world shows love, compassion and unity. They remind us that in times of great adversity, it is possible – indeed, it is necessary – to offer a glimpse of hope and give children a chance to play.
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