Morocco – A word from…

June 01, 2007

In January this year, I was honored to become UNICEF’s first Eminent Advocate for Children, and delighted to learn that my first working trip would be to Morocco – a country I’ve always loved– to highlight the importance of getting girls into school; explore some of the challenges faced by girls; and shine a spotlight on the excellent partnership between Morocco’s progressive government, local NGOs, and UNICEF. For so many people, the mention of Morocco conjures up exotic images of crowded souks laden with colorful, culinary spices, traditional silver jewelry, intricate beadwork, and soft leather goods…street vendors selling hot sweet mint tea, or stirring mouthwatering couscous peppered with vegetables...and soul-stirring architecture from palaces and  fountains to historical gardens and ancient mosques.  Having experienced all of this and more last week, I can add that the warmth of the Moroccan people is as charming and memorable as all of the above. If you haven’t visited, I urge you to do so! Thanks to Hollywood’s film producers, Morocco is often associated with large swathes of magnificent, dusty, North African desert.  In fact, the countryside is incredibly varied – nowhere more so than the approach to the thousand year old Holy city of Fez.  Etched into the landscape were patchworks of farm communities whose many fields were raked, furrowed, and reaped… planted with luscious green vegetables or hosts of bright yellow sunflowers.  One moment I saw a fast car and the next a sleepy horse cart.  It was already diverse and breathtaking – and I’d only been driving for 20 minutes!