10 January 2019

A symbol of poverty? By no means!

Part II: In cooperation with TUI Care Foundation, a Dutch woman helps improve the lives of young Moroccans in Marrakech – through bikes.

Creating employment

Meanwhile, the project has grown substantially. Cantal Bakker has moved to Marrakech. The container remains the heart of the project, with dozens of bikes – all donated from the Netherlands – awaiting their users. “I guess we also offer the first group bikes in Morocco”, says Bakker. Thanks to the bikes, the initiative has been able to gradually expand its offering and activities. Apart from the repair workshop, “Pikala“ now also offers guided bike tours for tourists and engages in lobbying activities to promote bikes as an environmentally friendly alternative to cars and scooters. Another milestone in the development of the project: TUI Care Foundation has sponsored the project since its beginning, contributing financial support and tourism knowhow. The foundation, established by the world’s leading tourism group, initiates partnerships and projects around the globe in order to create opportunities for young people and contribute to the positive development of holiday destinations. “Pikala“ was above all selected as a partner by the Foundation as the project creates job opportunities for young people. “Pikala combines environmental issues with the social challenges facing the country in an exemplary manner”, emphasises Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of TUI Care Foundation.

In the framework of the partnership, “Pikala“ has meanwhile created job opportunities for around 90 young Moroccans, with 36 of the participants employed throughout the project as bike tour guides, mechanics or marketing assistants. “In Morocco, 22 per cent of young people between 15 and 24 years are unemployed, and less than 15 per cent of first grade students are likely to finish high school,” says Bakker. “Pikala” also empowers the young people. “We help them organise their lives and assume responsibility and encourage them to develop their own ideas.” “Pikala” opens up new prospects, in particular for women: Special bike classes are offered for girls and young women, and guided bike tours are offered by as many young women as young men. This is relatively unusual in Morocco, where tour guides still tend to be a male domain.

Holidaymakers can help

The initiators see ample potential: Marrakech is a flat city, and its old city, the Medina, is only accessible by foot or by bike. However, “Pikala” is aiming to expand beyond the magical city in southwestern Morocco: “In cooperation with TUI Care Foundation, we are seeking to inspire young Moroccans and roll out our idea to other cities, too,” says the project founder Bakker. Her initiative shows that tourism is far more than sun, sand and sea. It has the potential to promote the economic and social development of countries. That is why Bakker encourages travellers visiting Marrakech to book a bike: “Holidaymakers booking a bike tour with Pikala will kill two birds with one stone. They will discover all of Marrakech, not just the Medina, with our local tour guides. And at the same time, they will support young Moroccans in building a better future.”

Read Part I of the “Pikala” project of the TUI Care Foundation.