On Wednesday 26th of June, the group accompanied by HAF Project Manager Errachid Mountassir visited a primary school in Bouchane Rhamna, where the children are learning about environmentalism. The pupils presented for the audience a play in classical Arabic. It was about forgiveness and tolerance. I was astonished how skillfully they played and how perfectly the story was portrayed in spite of the modesty of the costumes, accessories and stage setting.
Looking into their eyes sparkling with joy and pride of what they have accomplished was the highlight of my day not to say my whole week. I would never forget the faces of those little girls with their bright, vivid eyes. They were so happy to see a group of foreign students visit their school and watch them play.
I could not help but notice their teeth and how severely damaged they looked; ten/eleven years old kids with brown teeth barely holding on. My eyes filled with tears as Nadia said to me “I thought you were one of the UVA students, your teeth are very white. Are you truly Moroccan?”All I was thinking about at that moment is how unfair life can be, and I wished sincerely I were able to find a way to help them in any way.
I have heard before about excess of fluoride in tap water and how it affects teeth. I lived for nine years in Khouribga, which is a part of phosphate plateaus, but I have never realized the extent to which people could be affected by it.
Those children all looked like six/seven years old and I wondered if the excess of fluoride was a factor for their small stature or was it due to malnutrition. People there suffer from countless problems, I felt hopeless and helpless and I got overwhelmed thinking about how complicated things are. I saw issues at every corner; they are suffering in every way.
Afterwards, I come to learn that HAF is partnering with KIDS (Kids International Dentist Services). In March 2020, seven dentists from the United States are coming to Morocco for one week, and will spend a day in Bouchane to treat hundreds of children, including the ones whom I was so happy to meet.
I am very grateful for what High Atlas Foundation is doing for them. The activities carried out with the local government and civil society partners are fructifying and are showing positive effects on them. I wish new actions could be launched to increase awareness about the health effects of fluoride excess on growing children and to fight this threat.