In the early hours of Monday morning, 21 students and two members of staff from the Sir John Leman High School returned from a two week expedition to the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Some of the older students in the group were hoping to complete parts of their Gold Duke of Edinburgh award on the trip.
For the first week students were engaged in a community project in Tacheddirt, a remote Berber village in the mountains. In the mornings students completed a range of projects from building a wall at school, repairing irrigation ditches, building steps on a steep path and repairing a derelict water-mill. The primary school had a steep drop just outside the entrance and several local children had fallen over this, sustaining major injuries. The new wall built by the Beccles students along with local people will stop this happening in the future. All of the building materials were provided by funds raised by the students at SJLHS. In the afternoons the students spent time with local families making bread & tagines, milking cows and helping in the fields. In particular, girls were dressed in local costumes and tried carrying large rolls of freshly cut hay up the mountain slopes along with other women from the village. Ten of the students passed the Residential part of their Gold DoE Award as a result of this project.
After a rest day packing and a short walk to a picturesque waterfall the group then embarked on a 4 day trek through the Atlas Mountains. Walking up to 15 miles a day with packs in very hot conditions was challenging but the students showed remarkable tenacity in achieving their goals. The daily walks took them through lush valleys and high mountain passes in spectacular scenery and each night was spent camping in remote locations. Eight of the students were successfully assessed for the Expedition section of their Gold DoE Award.
For the final two days everyone returned to Marrakesh to enjoy a seemingly luxurious stay in a very traditional hotel in the old part of the city. The students were able to explore the ancient souks, haggling over goods, and watch the snake charmers and other entertainers appearing in the main square at dusk.
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