Thursday, March 08, 2007


My son Christopher and his wife Agata, love adventure holidays. Preferring to leave behind the hectic life of the business world and the city, they love to travel and experience a different culture and you could almost say, a different age. They are never happier than when exploring Morocco, North Africa, where they will venture into wild and remote places in the desert. Their Land Rover vehicle has been specially equipped to cope with accommodating them and the extremes of the desert terrain.

Their last trip to North Africa was in December, and despite having a packed itinerary, there is one little village they hold dear in their hearts they always have to return to.

This remote village which lies on the border of Morocco and Algeria surrounded by the Sahara desert is called Iche. Christopher and Agata have become friendly with the people of Iche, and can always rely on sincere hospitality being extended to them when they visit. They are welcomed into the homes of the villagers and invited to share their food. And, as this visit just happened to coincide with the approaching season of ‘goodwill to all men’, it seemed fitting for them to go laden with gifts.

The village is made up of a number of mud/stone houses and accommodates approximately 70 families. The only properly built concrete building in the village, is the school and this is where 26 children are educated and, as part of a government programme, to encourage children to attend school they are provided with two meals a day. The school is too far out in the desert to connect to power lines, so they have to rely on a very noisy generator, this supplies the village with electricity for just 4 hours per day which is from 5pm to 9pm., so duriing their day at school, the children have no power or lighting.

Christopher and Agata have been particularly concerned about the lack of facilities the school children have available to them, its sad to say that it is almost bereft of equipment, books and the teaching aids one normally finds in our schools to-day. So apart from their personal gifts, Christopher decided he’d like to try and do a little more for these children. He contacted Credit Suisse (Swiss Bank) and explained his mission. Despite the nearness to departure date, Credit Suisse mustered together a good selection of pencils and writing books for him to take. The children and teachers were overwhelmed with joy, for now they had books and paper they could use instead of writing on their slate boards.

The pictures show not only the happy faces of everyone at the School of Iche, but also how barren the village is. One picture that caught my eye was one Christopher took inside one the houses, on the wall can be seen a poster of modern living as we know it, but its a way of life they have never experienced and can only see in pictures and dream about.

Christopher and Agata together with 5 others, are returning to Iche on 18 May. Their visit this time will really make a difference to those children. C & A have approached Dell Switzerland who have generously donated two computers and flat screen monitors, as well as that, a small generator has been donated, this will provide the school with independant power to run the computers. Credit Suisse are helping again with the provision of more books and sports equipment, plus 50 first aid kits for the children, and village people.

It is hopfully anticipated that Roche Pharmacuetcal will step in and help and also members of staff from Christopher’s office are donating clothes, French games and French reading books to add to the school library (you can see what the library comprises of at the moment, its the picture of the small table draped in a cloth in front of a group of people).

A world atlas will also be taken to the school, you see, these children have little concept of what lies in the big world beyond their desert village and it is with this in mind, that I am going to make a request to my blogging friends, would you be able to send a postcard showing your village, town or city, just so these children can get a glimpse of what life is like outside their desert village. Who knows, it may well plant some little seed of desire in their minds that one day they may aspire to. It would be wonderful if you could do this, to let them know people out there are thinking about them.

If you would like to do this please send postcards -‘To the children Iche’

Christopher Astbury
ArvinMeritor CVA AG
Neugutstrasse 89
8600 Dübendorf

Click on pictures if you'd like to enlarge them


Betty said...


What a touching post you have written today! I know exactly where Christopher gets his caring attitude.....from his mother!

I certainly will be happy to send postcards. How much we take for granted. We are blessed beyond measure.

I hope your trip today with Pat was all you hoped it would be and that you both had a day full of wonderful sights and maybe some unexpected little treasures....

Thanks for dropping by to visit with me.....

We have had the most perfect weather today. We visited plant nurseries and I brought home several new plants..

Annabelle said...

What a lovely idea Marion. For sure I will send a postcard from our home town to the children of Iche. And while I'm here I must commend your son and daughter-in-law and you as well for taking notice and doing something about people who are less fortunate then ourselves. Now come morning I should brave the cold and find me a card to send Christopher. Thanks for showing us this.

Luv Annabelle

Joanne said...

I have a stack of school supplies I don't use anymore in my garage - I wish there was a way to send these things to the school in Iche!What a wonderful thing you son is doing - I know you must be very proud of him!

MrBrownThumb said...

I agree that it's a touching story and I want to thank you for sharing it. I particularly like the photo of the jeep in the sand dune.

Your post has really made me think about some things and I think I may have learned a little life lesson.

Thanks for posting.

Michael Manning said...

Marion: THank Goodness for the Land Rover!

Carol said...

Oh yes sure I'll look out for a nice postcard of Bremen for the children of Iche Marion. What a great family you have! It looks really cold in that school room seeing that the children all wear their outside clothing. Yes that picture with the IKEA furnitured room in that surrounding is really touching.

You know the thing I'm concerned about is what are they going to do with all of the well I dare to call it "civilisation waste" they'll get? I can't imagine that they have a garbage collection etc. out there in the desert. I'd be interested to know if and when how this problem is being solved.

Christopher Astbury said...

Good question Carol...
The problem of garbage waste is a real problem in Saharan towns. When we visit we make sure that everything we take is in degradable cardboard boxes, for example, the computers will be unpacked in Switzerland and repacked into degradable cardboard boxes to take to the school.

Most villages burn their rubbish and some are starting to use land fill sites, but it is still a real mess, its almost impossible to find a clean beach anywhere on the Moroccan and Western Saharan coast line, plastic bags fly for miles into the Sahara and this is the reason why many tourists are encouraged by the guide books not to accept plastic bags to carry goods they buy in towns unless they take them home with them.

I would like to thank all who have agreed to send a postcard to the Children of Iche, I do appreciate your support but more importantly, the postcards will mean so much to the children. Thank you.
Christopher Astbury

HORIZON said...

What a touching post Marion- your son and his wife are doing a great thing.
Count me in on the postcard :)
It makes you appreciate how blessed we really are- not to be taken for granted.

Much love

Gotta Garden said...

I am so glad I found you today. This is a wonderful thing your son and daughter-in-law do...and it seems to be growing, which is marvelous! I have bookmarked your site here...a postcard seems a very small thing...

Kerri said...

A wonderful post Marion! I didn't have time to read it when I visited last. Your son takes after his mother (and his father too, I'm sure) with his kind heart, and he has a kind-hearted wife as well.
Thanks for giving us a glimpse into another way of life. It makes me realize just how lucky our school children are.
I'll try to find a postcard of our area to send. Such a nice idea and indeed, such a small thing.
I hope your weather has warmed up by now. We'll be warming up nicely on Thursday! Your daffodils are beautiful!! (I forgot to say so in my Mothering Sunday comment) xox

Barbara said...

Wonderful to read and thanks for the pics.