• French
  • English

Tafraoute, Day 2

Cœur de Gazelles

The day begins smoothly

The sun is still below the horizon as the team slowly woke up. The night was calm, and the day will be short.

Today is the caravan’s second day in the village of Tafraoute. Many patients came to consult yesterday, but as the demand was very high, Fred, the caravan’s manager, decided to stay for a second day. After a cup of coffee, the team begins to set up. The patients arrive little by little, and the patient triage team quickly gets to work. The morning is quieter than yesterday; the needs of today’s patients are less urgent than those of the day before.

Anass of the optical unit, receives a significant case. Ammou, aged 83, comes to consult because he can barely see. He underwent cataract surgery several months ago, but the operation was not successful, and Ammou has no more crystalline lens (small optical lens located behind the iris that allows the eye to focus on what it sees).

Thibaut and Audrey prepare a pair of corrective glasses, which will help but unfortunately will not allow him to see clearly. It is always difficult for the volunteers when they are not able to help patients as much as they would like; the opticians did their best for Ammou, and let him go with sadness in their hearts.

Nice surprise for the volunteers!

Fortunately, a nice surprise raises the volunteers’ spirits. Lina, the baby born 2 years ago with the help of the medical caravan’s gynaecologists, comes to visit the doctors with her family.

You may recall that Lina’s father came to fetch the doctors in the middle of the night because his wife was experiencing a difficult birth. Thanks to their intervention, Lina and her mother are both doing very well today, and the look of recognition in the parents’ eyes is a lovely reward for the volunteers.

Since her birth, the parents come to the caravan every year for the pleasure of saying hello, and to have a medical checkup for Lina. After consultation with the paediatricians, the diagnosis is clear: Lina is in perfect health, and her shyness doesn’t prevent the volunteers from covering her with cuddles!

Women and the medical caravan

The gynaecologists also experience their share of emotions today. Taking advantage of a moment of calm, they go to visit the Tafraoute dispensary, where the village midwife works. The dispensary was created for the women of the region as a space for them to give birth under good conditions, but habits are difficult to change. Most future mothers prefer to follow tradition and give birth at home, except in cases with serious complications.

The dispensary is often empty, despite the midwife’s efforts to educate mothers about the benefits of support during childbirth. Touched by this story, the Cœur de Gazelles gynaecologists attempt to reassure the mothers and encourage them to accept birthing support even without complications.

The gynaecology unit & women

Women are a key focus for Cœur de Gazelles: the gynaecology unit is very important because many women live too far from town to receive real follow-up during pregnancy, or in the event of health concerns related to intimacy.

As explained above, it is traditional for women to give birth at home and it is difficult to convince them to change this habit. Fortunately, the medical caravan’s visit encourages some of them to come consult the gynaecologists, most of the time simply for reassurance. Thanks to the team’s midwives, Meryeme and Noura, both of whom are Moroccan, communication is easy, and trust is quickly established.

The gynaecology unit works behind closed doors, out of sight, to preserve the intimacy of the patients as much as possible. Modesty is an inherent part of their culture, and even more so towards strangers, so the doctors do everything they can to put them at ease.

These consultations are also a way for the gynaecologists to provide advice, both to reassure their patients, but above all, to allow them to know how to act in the future. As for all the doctors, their medical role is combined with prevention and education.

This way of doing things is in line with the philosophy of the association in general. Cœur de Gazelles is committed throughout the year to the women of Maroc.

Thanks to Fondation Diana Holding, French and Arabic classes have been provided for several years to the women of Tamsguidat. In addition, in 2013 Cœur de Gazelles, in collaboration with ABFK women’s association, created a multi-service co-op that offers job training for single women, and helps them to find employment.

A learning restaurant and training restaurant were opened in 2016, with the support of our sponsor, Le Printemps Paris.

A commitment to women is one of the underlying values of Cœur de Gazelles.




Dominique Serra has dedicated this 29th edition to Nasrin Sotoudeh – prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate – who has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for “inciting corruption and prostitution” by defending women who took off their headscarves in public.

I encourage everyone to sign the petition for her release.