Like Spain, Morocco was a country that we had visited during our Summer 2009 voyage. In a previous blog I wrote about the amazing medina of Fez. It was so amazing that when my wife and I were discussing what to do in Morocco, we both immediately knew we wanted to go back to Fez. We weren't disappointed with that decision. To read the previous blog entry on Fez, check out this link.
For THIS voyage, the unique Moroccan experience was our trip to the SOS Children's Orphanage and the first distribution of a One World Futbol (more on this in a minute). SOS is a wonderful organization and we were pleasantly surprised by the loving care provided for the 96 kids in this orphanage. Since HIV/AIDs is not a huge problem in this country, most of these kids are here due to abandonment. On this voyage with Semester at Sea we are serving as informal ambassadors for the One World Futbol project. The short story is that the founder of this project saw kids in Darfur playing soccer with a bunch of rolled up plastic bags. It broke his heart. While soccer balls might have been provided by some relief agencies, between barbed wire, broken glass and other sharp objects, the ball inevitably popped and ended up as more roadside debris. Without a clean, grassy field (not available in most war-torn or impoverished nations), kids couldn't enjoy a game of soccer (at least not for long). Solving this problem became his life goal. With some seed money for R&D provided by the musician Sting, he developed a ball that is basically indestructible because it is made of the materials used for Croc shoes. He took over an old Croc factory in Canada and started the One World Futbol project. When you or I buy a ball, we also have bought one to be donated to kids in need. That's where we come in. We contacted these folks a few weeks before we set sail, arranged for 46 balls to be shipped to our departure point in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and now we are taking the balls to kids in need all around the world. The first ball was given away at the SAS orphanage here in Morocco. I explained the concept of the One World ball (we are all from one planet and just like in futbol, if we communicate, cooperate and work as a team, we can accomplish great things) and that the ball was made to last and last and last. When our guide translated this to the kids, their faces lit up with bright smiles. I will never forget the look on the face of one young boy next to me as his eyes got wide and he uttered the universally understood word ... WOW. Stay tuned. There should be many more WOWs to come in the days ahead, and we'll keep you posted. Next stop? Ghana!