• Beyond the surface of Morocco

Beyond the Surface of Morocco

By Emi Koch

"As a barista at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, I spent my summer informing curious costumers that we sell two flavors of ice tea: Mango Ceylon and Moroccan Mint. In fact, embarrassingly enough, the only thing I knew about Morocco was its association with mint tea.

Word on the beach was also that North African coastline also produced some beautiful waves. But beyond surfing and tea, Morocco largely remained a mystery to me. That was up until two weeks ago.

In September, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) invited my NGO, Beyond the Surface International to attend a three-day humanitarian relief conference in Marrakech, Morocco. As opposed to working one-on-one with kids in a social project, I instead was asked to brainstorm ways of assisting over three million Syrian refugees on their individuals paths from harm to home with help from my team: a Serbian IT wiz, a Ugandan relief worker who started his journey in the field resettling former child soldiers, and a Filipino woman who shared her experience rebuilding lives after the recent earthquake. Mostly, I sat wide-eyed and full of questions. For the first time, I examined humanitarian work as a large-scale operation instead of a grassroots small-scale individual effort.

After the conference closed, I boarded a train bound for the coast. I spend the remainder of my time in Morocco with the Mouja Surf Club and the Gorman family, Tricia, Philippe, Nayla, Kai and Zoe surfing and above all, cultivating connections beyond the surface.

The Mouja Surf Club is located in Dar Bouazza, a small beach town nestled on the outskirts of Casablanca, Morocco. An eclectic mix of residents make up the Dar Bouazza community. Traditional local families (fisherman, farmers, tradesmen) live on farm lands in douars ( neighborhoods) just behind stunning seaside villas where well-to-do expats and Moroccans looking to relax and get away from the stresses of Casablanca, call home. Mouja Surf Club caters to the entire Dar Bouazza community, offering surf lessons, board and gear rentals at an extremely reasonable rate. Started by two local surfers from a Dar Bouazza douar, Aziz and Zawia did not model Mouja Surf Club as a small business with a social component. Instead, opening up their surf school as a safe space for local kids in the community with freely accessible surfboards and bodyboards, was a fundamental given for Aziz and Zawia. “This not a social project… this is just how it is.” Together with Beyond Projects and one absolutely incredible local expat family, the Mouja Surf Club organized a surf day dedicated to the groms of Dar Bouazza."

Check out the Facebook page of the Mouja Surf Club for more news from Morocco !

For more information about Emi and her projects visit Beyond the Surface International