We are committed to Sustainable and Responsible Tourism at La Maison Anglaise (in Taroudant, Morocco). We have been encouraged by the positive effects of our involvement in aid projects and good causes in the Taroudant region and beyond.
At Holidays with Heart we are always looking at ways of helping local people in Southern Morocco to recognise their fantastic resources – both natural and cultural. As a counter to industrialisation and large-scale production of mediocre goods, we aim to revive sectors of the traditional rural economy by identifying niche markets and facilitating better production methods.
I was hugely impressed to find out about your inspired projects & am full of admiration for the vision & energy with which you have brought them into being. It was a holiday like no other & has provided so much to think about. Laetitia, Feb 2016
You have done and are doing such wonderful things for both people and animals in Taroudant. I knew from my time with you that you were very committed to what you had started and that your dream would come true thanks to your determination and also your love for the country and its people
We enable our clients to support these causes practically and, if they wish, financially
We advise with the help of our Moroccan staff, arrange visits and supply information about suitable donations in kind or cash.
How Can You Help?
You might like to:
Make a donation to aid projects of your choice: We’ll then send you a copy of our electronic cookery book (containing the tasty recipes that our chefs use in the guest house).
Purchase fundraising cards & posters: We are fortunate that Alan Cotton, one of Britain’s foremost landscape artists, has given us permission to reproduce some of his oil paintings of Moroccan scenes. You may choose which project to donate to.
Pack cast-off clothes or shoes to donate to children or adults in the poorer villages. When you return home, you’ll have room in your case for lots of Moroccan goodies. You can buy lovely craft items, food, spices and various spa goods at very reasonable prices.
Offer your expertise: You could benefit those in need by:
- simply having a love of children. Visitors are welcome to play with them at the orphanage.
- contributing specialist knowledge e.g. of beekeeping or marketing of crafts.
Make one-off or regular donations to a chosen cause.
Encourage friends and family who would love to help the causes to holiday with us.
Read news relating to our projects and sustainability in Morocco or read about latest developments in our recent Newsletters.
Projects We're Involved in
Saving the Endangered Saharan Yellow Bee.
Creating bee habitats.
Assisting with marketing.
Helping local people the benefits of diverse ecosystems as alternatives to monoculture
The Saharan Yellow Bee project was instigated by a French research organisation. They collaborated with the Association Albisher at Skoura in southern Morocco. The Moroccan members are very enthusiastic and devoted to their beekeeping. We have assisted by fundraising and supplying materials for training and equipment. In 2011 training began to take place in other regions.
In 2012 an exciting new “Busy Bee Centre” was launched near Taroudant. Its purpose is to educate beekeepers and the general public; provide a sales outlet for products; provide a facility for the local beekeeping cooperative to process their harvest
In 2013 a permaculture-based bee orchard was designed and planted. This will become a great asset in supplying nectar and pollen throughout the year so that there’s no need to move hives to alternative sites. Since the 1930s, the increase in monoculture: originally native Argan Forest in the Souss Valley has gradually been replaced first by citrus fruit since the 1930s, then bananas, then horticulture and now maize to feed dairy cattle, thus limiting nectar sources for bees at some seasons. Read more about how the Circle Dances have supported this project here
In spring 2017 colonies of Yellow Saharan Bees were finally introduced to the Souss valley and are making good progress.
May 2019 We are delighted to announce that, following years of hard work and support from master beekeeper Lynne Ingram, Youssef Dounge, the founder of Atlas Cooperative for Beekeeping & the Environment, has had a major breakthrough. He has succeeded in breeding many colonies of the endangered Yellow Saharan Bee, not an easy task. The bees have been DNA tested and show they are pure. As a consequence, the Government Department that supports innovation in the Tata region (on the boundary between the Anti Atlas Mountains & the Sahara)have ordered 200 colonies. Huge thanks go to both Lynne who has visited every year since 2013 and Youssef for their perseverance.
This really could make a huge difference to the survival of this valuable species, which is even more important during times of climatic change: this bee is more drought tolerant; it forages both over a wider area and even better it is docile and produces some wonderful wild honeys. Many of the desert species are very rich in nectar, amongst them the famous cactoid Euphobias unique to this part of Morocco and asphodel species which are not eaten by livestock so remain abundant.
The Soap Making Project
A project that we initiated in a Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains. The training was done by one of Jane’s ex students Steve Croke & his partner Liz of the Soap Shed (in Wales) to whom we are very grateful. For this, we received a Responsible Tourism award in 2009. The high quality soaps made with superb local oils are available for purchase.
A project to enable women of the region to supplement their incomes. It also ensures that ancient traditions and skills are not lost. More details
ARPE, Taroudant (Environmental Association)
Involved with a variety of educational projects including recycling and a guided cycle trail around the town walls, which we supported financially.
A local charity “Group Maroc Horizons” does some excellent work helping vulnerable street-connected children. It is financed and supported by an excellent London-based charity, the Moroccan Children’s Trust whose research and expertise is highly regarded. You could help by making donations of clothes or money or even becoming a volunteer (usual minimum 3 months).
We have been involved in recruiting volunteers, and a circle dance group led by Jeanette Whitford in October 2016 were so impressed that they have were successful in raising over £5000. In late 2017 the MCT initiated a new fostering project which is being instigated nationwide in order to place children with caring families and thus obviate the need for the children to be institutionalised.
School for the Blind, Taroudant
Serving much of Southern Morocco, this marvelous school is doing some wonderful work. We have supplied a variety of materials including musical instruments, sunglasses, white sticks and braille notebooks.
The Orphanage, Taroudant
Long established and much admired locally, the orphanage offers a caring home for children. They are mostly under the age of 12 and include some disabled children. Donations of clothes, nappies, infant milk and help with play and feeding are always welcome. We have arranged for many volunteers including social studies students to assist for short or long periods. One devoted circle dancer return each year to help and make donations. We and our guests have financed a wide variety of items including bedding, washing machine, cooker, water heater and playpen.
Artisan Olive Oil Quality and Drought
Research shows there is usually a positive relationship between drought and anti-oxidants in olive oil, hence droughts could benefit farmers. Having obtained test kits from Greece, we began testing local olive oils for exceptional levels of antioxidants early in 2017. In autumn 2017 we will carry out further better controlled tests. This will allow us to help small farmers on cultivate, process and market olives to ensure higher levels of antioxidants, enabling them to obtain higher prices for their artisan oils. Read more
ALCS (Association de Lutte Contre le Sida)
An organisation concerned with prevention of the spread of AIDS in Taroudant region. The first case of AIDS was notified in 1991. In Dec 2000 an association was born. By 2002, 31 cases were reported. The ALCS offers care, free and anonymous HIV testing and prevention and awareness.
Rotary Club of Taroudant
Providing support to disadvantaged people in a variety of ways, with a particular focus on health. We’ve made donations of medical supplies and clothes for distribution through their network. Each year at the end of the season any surplus donations are taken by 4 x 4 to the more remote villages that we cannot reach with our vehicles.
When Jane first came to Morocco in the early 1990s the focus of her research was tortoise conservation; the major threats being habitat degradation, collection for the pet trade and tourist souvenirs (both now illegal, but nonetheless still practised)
A charity which has its roots in North Africa, SPANA does wonderful work at its veterinary centres in Morocco to improve the welfare of working animals – mules, donkeys, oxen and horses, including the horses which pull carriages in Marrakech. Vets contribute time and resources both to caring for the animals and to encouraging compassion for animals through education.We raise awareness about the existence of SPANA and invite support for their projects.
Because SPANA are not able to work in Taroudant we are raising funds for our own project to produce a Water Trough for working animals in the centre of town in memory of Su Hirst, one our circle dancing guests who was passionate about helping the working animals. Whilst we have been given permission, we are still awaiting the decision of the local planners who are reorganising the square where it will be located.
Support to Schools
We have supported various schools in a variety of ways including:
- education about recycling and litter pick in a village school in the mountains. In 2016 the new law banning the production and use of plastic bags has given us another opportunity to get involved with the school.
- supply of equipment including a VCR
- supply of materials for writing
- arranging visits for our guests including groups: a variety of activities ranging from storytelling at a secondary school (to improve English language skills) to sports matches.
Raise the Roof – Repair of roof after storm damage
Two of our regular circle dance guests, Angela Lockwood and Stephanie Rose, responded to an urgent need for funds to repair the roof of a family’s dwelling in a mountain village that our guests often visit. Through the circle dance network, they were successful in raising not only the costs of the repairs but also a surplus of £300, which was donated to the embroidery project, which now has a new branch in the village. This project is part of an ongoing scheme to improve literacy amongst the village women. One day a week, they meet to learn embroidery skills as a rest from their academic work. We’ve now found a market for their products through Abigail’s Drapery, which is owned by Abigail Petit, who has a long history in the ethical textiles trade.
More recently Angela Lockwood and Julie Rising have raised funds for a young woman to receive training in using a sewing machine and have bought her a suitable machine; this has had an enormous impact on the young lady’s confidence and has empowered her enormously. Her sister has picked up the empowerment theme and has the ambitious to become a women’s rights lawyer.
Education For All (EFA)
Very few girls from rural communities in Morocco get the opportunity of continuing their education after primary school. To help tackle this, Education For All (EFA), a Moroccan NGO, is building and running girls’ boarding houses near secondary colleges, allowing some girls from rural families to continue their education. Please visit the website for more information: www.efamorocco.org
Selling Cards for Charitable Causes
Renowned British landscape artist Alan Cotton kindly gave us permission to reproduce and sell both cards and posters of 5 of his works of Moroccan scenes. Clients choose which project they would like the profits to go to.
La Maison Anglaise Cookery Book
So popular are the dishes that our chefs create that many clients like to make a donation to charity to obtain the recipes so that they can bring back memories of their holiday.
Our biggest project yet, first conceived in 1996 has eventually come into being. Construction started in November 2018 and is on schedule to be completed by November 2019. Some days we employ over 30 men who are using traditional skills to create a unique new guest house set in an acre of permaculture gardens. It will demonstrate how a combination of traditional knowledge and clever building design can create a highly sustainable and very comfortable living space.