The little girl who gave meaning to our running

The river

Pablo Rodriguez, March 31 2017.

In March 2017, while scouting the area in between the atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert in Morocco with my friend Abdu Oukioud something spectacular happened to us

It wasn’t the discovery of a lost path or the meeting with some thought extinct animal, we found a reason to be, a cause.
After running 2 days from the Aït Bougamez Valley into one of the most remote locations I’ve ever been in my life, we approached a small beach at the other side of the river by the N’goun canyon. We saw a little girl, dressed in red and her dad working in what looked like some kind of irrigation channel.

The Village

Using the ancient Berber language that my friend Abdu speaks fluently, they invited us to join them for some tea in their house,… their house? I thought! how is it possible? they live here??? We followed them up by a small trail to discover that a whole village laid hidden by the cliffs.


Tuda, the little girl, ran to the mountain to get some wood for the fire while her dad Ahmad showed us their house. He introduced us to his wife, I tried to shake her hand but she kissed my hand instead. Ahmad ask us to go into a dark room where we found Tuda again, she was baking bread for us, with such a skillS that made her look like someone way older, but she was only 12.

No school

Inside the house

None of the 34 kids in the village of Tarzoub go to school
The conversation kept going and Abdu explained to me that there was no school in the village, seeing the video on the left I realize that I wasn’t really comprehending what that meant, so where do they go to school? I asked. Then Tuda’s father told us that neither the 34 kids in town, had ever gone to school. Something inside me got really upset about it, what irresponsible parents these kids had! was my first reaction, don’t they care?

We went outside and it was then when Abdu told me:

“Pablo, you don’t get it, do you? look around you! there is no way out of here, only the Canyon”

No! Abdu was right, it couldn’t be, the narrow deep canyon we’be been running for 2 hours. I felt really stupid, it was not that parents didn’t want to send them, it was just impossible, too dangerous for children to go on their own. 

It wasn’t a choice anymore, not for me not for Abdu. We both felt the obligation to do something about it, so we came up with this idea of using our tours as a platform to let runners help. We told this to Ahmad and he offered his land to build the school, the project had begun.

By the fire.

We still had 40 km of running to go that day and it was like 12 pm. Our way help me to understand the remoteness of the village and did nothing else but encourage our intentions, no matter what, to give Tuda and the other kids the opportunity to go to school.

Abdu kept talking “Tuda, the girl who made the bread doesn’t know how to read or write”
Oh God, that broke me.

The thing is by that moment Tuda had already stolen our hearts with her kindness and hard work. When I finally realized that she was already 12 years old and may never have the opportunity to learn how to read, I experienced a sort of epiphany, I felt a very intense sense shame. I’m a father of 4 boys, and my older is 13. I could not imagine my kid’s live without reading or writing.

That night

We arrived at 7 pm to Bou Tharar completely exhausted but even then, Abdu managed to organize that same night a meeting with important people from the town to talk about the construction of the school.

Two days later Abdelatif Bousseta a primary teacher and leader from a local non profit organization together with Ali Ait Hakkou a local mountain guide, began to organize the community.

That happen two weeks ago and we are now setting up the structure in which this whole project can turn into a reality. Our goal is these kids being able to attend school in their Village next September having then the opportunity to get an education and follow any path they choose in their life. The teacher will be sent by Moroccan government once we have the school built.

Getting out of there

Note:This post is from March 31 2017, things haven’t been easy but today January 28, 2019 Abdu had already started the building of the school.

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