Broken Promises: The fight to educate children with disabilities in the Middle East and North Africa

by SARAH FORD; Photos by Emma Hohenstein.

This article was published by Global Health Hub on Oct. 8, 2015. Read it HERE.

RABAT, MOROCCO – Karim Benabdeslam, 24, plays the piano, taught himself how to read the Koran and is getting a masters degree in Islamic studies. Not one of these accomplishments came easily. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) at age three, it was up to Benabdeslam’s father to help his son achieve his utmost potential.

“I work hard with him to reach this level,” says Benabdeslam.

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Challenging Illiteracy in Morocco, a Bookseller Pursues Paradise

By Hannah Rehak

Photographs by Will Matsuda

RABAT, Morocco – Magazines spill out onto a busy street and blue painted shutters stretch open, exposing Aziz Muhammed sitting on a dusty pillow. As always, he is reading, eyes focused on an orange-bound book, spectacles resting on his prominent nose. Though tucked away behind the work of hundreds of authors, Muhammed is known throughout the medina, the oldest part of Rabat, for his unique aesthetic. He is a 66-year-old bouquiniste, a proud bookseller, in a country with an adult literacy rate of approximately 67 percent.

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Empowering women locally: Sabah Lazaar



Photographs by MARK MINTON

Sabah Lazaar watches women pile into the white building of Annajan Cooperative: 16 and 17-year-olds trek from distances of several kilometers away, for a morning spent with sewing machines and computers. The vocational center wasn’t a sight in Lazaar’svillage while growing up—which is exactly why she founded it.

“I never wanted to work in a place where everything had already been provided,” she insists, “That would be an easy way out.”

In Sbaa Rouadi—Lazaar’s dry, humid village—sunset marks the end of activity. Men head home from farming, and women wrap up the day’s cooking.

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In Moroccan Villages, Solar Energy Powering Education


Gladiator sets and ancient Berber qasbahs are immediately associated with the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate.  But bustling behind its desert winds is a third, equally impressive feat: the pioneering of solar energy. A $9 billion plant launched in 2009 is slowly being assembled to life, while smaller plants on the city’s outskirts have already begun subsiding electricity costs. Yet, an earlier solar project has proved more monumental in some ways, by tackling a local problem: education in villages.

Each morning, in villages dotted around southern Morocco, children skip school to fetch water from nearby wells.

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