UNDER THE HIGH PATRONAGE OF HIS MAJESTY KING MOHAMMED VI
EnglishFrench
THE INCOMPARABLE
UNDER THE HIGH PATRONAGE OF HIS MAJESTY KING MOHAMMED VI
CŒUR DE GAZELLES2022-03-31T23:55:54+02:00

CŒUR DE GAZELLES

ACTIONS RALLYE AÏCHA DES GAZELLES DU MAROC 2022

THE ASSOCIATION CŒUR DE GAZELLES

Coeur de Gazelles is a registered non-profit organization, created in 2001 around and during the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles.
Cœur de Gazelles is active in Morocco in several areas: medical,  sustainable development,professional reintegration,education and donations.

Keen to help, but not just anyhow

Despite the complicated health context, the team of Coeur de Gazelles decided to set up a pediatric and optical prevention caravan in the villages around the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles bivouac. We will visit a school every day while following the route of the Rally.

Our actions this year will focus on children, who have unfortunately suffered a great deal from this pandemic.. Every child will receive a paediatric consultation and a vision test, and corrective glasses made on site will be provided as needed. The medical and optical visit will be free.

Awareness workshops on covid and hygiene in general (with a focus on oral health) will be provided to children during the day.
A travelling team composed of a general practitioner and a midwife will visit nomads and communities in remote areas. Minor emergency surgeries will be carried out if necessary by the surgeons.

Finally, a truck and a 4×4 will distribute donations to local populations. The donations that the rally teams transported to Morocco will first be sorted by the volunteers according to the needs of the population.

1 day to go: The 2022 caravan is getting ready

It's the home stretch before the big day!

After weeks of planning and preparation, the 2022 medical caravan is finally taking shape. Marina Vrillacq, director of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles and president of Cœur de Gazelles since 2004, and Amine, project manager for this new caravan, welcome the volunteers with a big smile. The night was short but the reunion is warm: after a two-year break, the team is proud and happy to be able to head out once again into the local communities. Thanks to the tremendous work carried out upstream by Marina and the unwavering support of our partners, whom we thank from the bottom of our hearts - Photoweb, Koni, Goodyear, Sidi Ali, Aïcha, Dupessey and the Diana Holding Foundation – the association is more motivated than ever.

This morning, the logistics are set up. General briefing, distribution of vests, sorting of donations, distribution of boxes... Preparation is an essential phase for the smooth running of operations, and the volunteers are perfectly aware of this. Especially the old hands, who pass on their experience to the newcomers! For this new edition, the caravan has 21 French and Moroccan volunteers, who will be divided into several areas: reception, who will explain the process to the children, paediatrics, ophthalmology, optics, pharmacy, donations, and administrative management. As is the case every year, patients requiring more in-depth follow-up will be cared for year-round by Cœur de Gazelles.

Once the trucks are full, the team leaves to set up the medical caravan at the Dunes d'Or school, in Merzouga. Despite the strong wind, everyone pitches in. Each specialty sets up its "office" for the next few days with a single objective: that the children feel comfortable. For this, the team will be assisted by the school's teachers, who will act as a liaison between the French volunteers and the children.

After almost three hours of work, everything is in place. The excitement is mounting, and so is the impatience: this is the first time the caravan has been organized in this form, and everyone is eager to meet the young patients tomorrow. Children are at the heart of this edition, and the volunteers have every intention of providing them with the best care possible.

DAY 1 | MERZOUGA SCHOOL

Merzouga, here we come!

The big day at last!

After a gentle awakening this morning for the volunteers of Cœur de Gazelles, they leave at 7 a.m. to set up at the Dunes d'or school in Merzouga for their 1st working day.

The parents' association and teachers are already on site, and welcome them with a smile: they too are impatient to see the caravan come back to life after three years of absence! It is in particular thanks to their collaboration with Cœur de Gazelles, to the Moroccan Ministry of Health and regional delegations, who have been supporting all the actions of the association for years, that this 2022 medical caravan finally sees the light of day.

The final preparations completed, the school opens its doors to the first classes. One by one, the children settle in the reception unit, where Hicham, Hanane and Noura take down the main information (surname, first name, age and sex) before explaining to them how the caravan works and checking their health booklet.

The health booklet is essential because all the consultations will be recorded there, in order to provide the parents with a complete record. It will also be useful in the event of future consultations, for the doctors who will treat them.

After the reception point, the young patients are directed towards the different specialties : paediatrics, for a complete diagnosis of their general state of health, then ophthalmology and optics, if the child is found to have a need for eyeglasses or sunglasses. They finish at the pharmacy, which distributes any drugs prescribed by the paediatricians, then the donations unit. Donations are distributed according to the specific needs of the child and his or her family. Soft toys, toys, warm clothing, shoes and hygiene kits fill the room. The Gazelles played the game and were very generous! Each child leaves with a bag full of donations and dental health kits.

Home visits for Coeur de Gazelles

After a well-deserved lunch break, the team is back in action, and is soon joined by the Gazelles, who come to visit the caravan. The sports director of the rally and Marina placed a checkpoint not far from the Merzouga school to allow them to discover the actions carried out by the association on the sidelines of the event.

Tender smiles, bright eyes and emotion are on the menu! Many Gazelles are mothers, and being around the children resonates in them with an echo of familiar tenderness. The caravan raises awareness of the fragility of certain Moroccan populations, and the Gazelles are perfectly aware that their participation in the rally also allows the association to keep going.

Another, more unexpected visitor, also joins the team. Bruno Pace, event manager at GSF, the Rallye's sanitation partner, came to meet the association. He even got involved in the consultations giving a warm helping hand to the ophthalmologists. Very happy that the "incredible human adventure" that is the Rallye led him to the medical caravan, Bruno immersed himself completely in the team and, for a day, became a willing volunteer.

DAY 2 | MERZOUGA SCHOOL

For this 2th day at the Dunes d'or school, the Cœur de Gazelles team is set up quickly: this is the advantage of staying several days in the same place! The logistics, which are simpler than in previous years, allow them to optimize consultation times in order to accommodate as many children as possible.

The classes, spread over 3 and a half days, arrive as the day progresses. Yesterday, 7 classes passed through the caring hands of our volunteers, and 8 were examined today. The administrative center, managed by Christelle and Sylvie, takes care every day of taking stock of the number of children present, the age groups and the pathologies or symptoms detected, in order to better adapt the consultations and medical equipment of the caravan in future years. The medical problems encountered in Merzouga are in large part linked to the region and to the high concentration of sand dust in the air.

The medical caravan, a lasting commitment

Among the caravan's young patients, some require more specific and longer-term care: these are children with health concerns that cannot be taken care of by the caravan or that require short or medium-term follow-up.

When such a case arises, Noura and Habiba call the close relatives to inform them of the problem and explain to them the procedure to follow in order to be sure that the child is taken care of by the most appropriate facilities. Among the cases, doctors detect many heart disorders, such as heart murmurs, diabetes and umbilical hernias. Cardiac complications are particularly linked to strep throat, which, when not treated, can cause heart problems in children. All these pathologies are immediately reported to the family, in order to ensure that a lasting follow-up is quickly set up.

In this way, the association takes care of monitoring these patients even after the end of the medical caravan, because we are committed to the population all year round.

DAY 3 | MERZOUGA SCHOOL

Penultimate day at the Dunes d'or school: today, 219 children show up at the caravan.

They take turns waiting in the waiting room with Karine, who becomes a super nanny for a few hours.

When their turn comes, the 3 pediatricians, Aziz, HTA and Kanza, take the time to examine their young patients: about 80% of them have never seen a doctor before, which is why a comprehensive examination is essential.

The day unfolds without incident. HTA receives a 14-year-old girl who presents a bone spur on the femur. The mass does not appear to be malignant, but the pediatrician still recommends an X-ray, so that the doctor who will take over can decide what to do next.

Kanza, meanwhile, examines a little boy who recently contracted diabetesand who has not received proper care. She provides instructions to ensure that he receives the support he needs from his family and his school. Cases of diabetes are quite common among the local populations, and are not often followed up correctly. One of the paediatricians' tasks is to raise awareness of this pathology, so that it does not get worse over the years.

For his part, Aziz receives another little boy, aged 11, who arrives with a wound on his hand. He cut 2 fingers a few days ago and unfortunately, the treatment his parents gave him did not work. Aziz approaches him very gently and examines his wound carefully. It is getting infected and urgently needs a deep cleaning.

Aziz works quickly and well, removing the makeshift stitches and giving him a clean bandage. The little patient shows a lot of courage: very calm, a little shy, he lets himself be treated despite the pain. The little warrioremerges from his consultation with a beautiful bandage and precise medical instructions for his parents, who will be able to take over until he is completely better.

Surgical procedures, which are quite common in the adult population, are relatively rare with children. Doctors mainly provide a lot of preventive advice, and some basic medicines, but major problems are, fortunately, exceptional.

These precious moments are captured by the watchful eye of the camera of the Moroccan national channel 2M, longtime media partner of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, which has come to visit the caravan and the children. This allows them to discover the charitable side of the Rally, and to understand the long-term impact offered by the care provided by the volunteers.

DAY 4 | MERZOUGA SCHOOL

It's the last day at Merzouga school for the Cœur de Gazelles team. In total, 682 children have been examined by the various professionals since Thursday, and 140 pairs of glasses have been provided. The volunteers only stay half a day before hitting the road for the next bivouac, but it was a half-day full of emotions!

Distribution of wheelchairs

In addition to the usual consultations, the team finds a familiar face: a 16-year-old teenager, already examined by the caravan 5 years ago, patiently awaits his turn. As a baby, he suffered from meningitis, which left neurological sequelae. He is quadriplegic and needs a new wheelchair to get around, because the one given to him by Cœur de Gazelles 5 years ago is too small. The volunteers come out with a new one, appropriate for his size and install him comfortably before directing him to the team of pediatricians for a complete consultation.

Far from over, the day continues peacefully, until Kanza and Noura are called by a family in the village: Zahid, the grandfather, who lives there with his daughter and grandchildren, has been bedridden for some time. He has diabetes and heart disease, and was hospitalized in February. Without proper treatment, his heart disease has caused edema in his lower limbs, which prevents him from moving.

Kanza and Noura make an initial assessment and provide him with the necessary care. Zahid gives them grateful looks, and his eyes light up when the doctors bring him a brand new wheelchair : it's an unexpected gift for him, which will allow him to regain his autonomy and finally be able to leave the room in which he lives. Everyone has tears in their eyes: it's for that feeling of really helping and being able to change livesthat the volunteers return each year to the medical caravan.

On their way back, despite the desire to rest, the cars make a final stop at the home of a young mother who has just had her first child. Her little girl is now 3 months old and in perfect health. Kanza and Noura provide her with lots of prevention tipson contraception, breastfeeding, infant nutrition, appropriate ways for transporting the child, etc.

At the end of the consultations, the parents' association and the school director prepare a surprise for the volunteers: everyone receives a nice thank you diploma for their investment of the last few days. This is followed by an emotional goodbye, and a well-deserved return to the bivouac!

DAY 5 | OULAD DRISS

The environmental commitment of Cœur de Gazelles and Sidi Ali

Yesterday, the Cœur de Gazelles team set off for Oulad Driss, after their last day in Merzouga.

On the road, the association's president Marina stops at the school that was built from empty bottles a few years ago. Thanks to our partner Sidi Ali, all the water bottles consumed during the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc and the medical caravan are collected for recycling by appropriate facilities. Some of them are sent to an association in Casablanca, Koun, which transforms them into decorative objects (lamps, stools, garden furniture, etc.), and the rest are used to build sustainable homes on location in Morocco.

The advantage? It is an ecological construction method that reduces by half the costs and energy usually required for the construction of houses, while providing a suitable living environment for families in terms of insulation, solidity and durability.

Welcome to Oulad Driss!

After a long drive yesterday, the team sets off again this morning, heading to the Oulad Driss dispensary, where they will stay for two days. Each specialty is set up quickly: everyone is now well versed in the process!

At 10 a.m., the first children begin to show up one after the other, and are examined by the paediatricians, ophthalmologists and opticians. They end their visit with the donations unit, masterfully managed by Lili and Cinthia. The donations, largely brought by the Gazelles of this 31th edition, have been carefully sorted ahead of time by the donations team, in order to facilitate their distribution. The children receive donations that meet their needs and those of their families.

Cœur de Gazelles warmly thanks the participants, the volunteers, without whom nothing would be possible, and its partners Photoweb, France, Dupessey, Aïcha, Sidi Ali and the Diana Holding Foundation.

DAY 6 | OULAD DRISS

This is the 2th and last day in Oulad Driss, and the volunteers already saw a large number of children yesterday.

The first group arrives at 10 a.m. The waiting room fills up very quickly, and the doctors don't waste time. The donations unit soon sees reinforcements arrive: a few members of the Rallye and two teams of Gazelles have come to visit the caravan and lend a hand for a few hours.

Shoes, clothes, accessories, hygiene products, toys, stuffed animals... Nothing is forgotten!

Focus on health and prevention

The pharmacists, for their part, are not idle either. Because of the dust in the air, the doctors diagnose many allergies, some rhinitis, and intestinal parasites, mainly due to the quality of the water in the region. They also prescribe a lot of iron supplements for mild anaemia, to boost the immune system a little. Thanks to Khalid, who manages all the logistics upstream by collecting and transporting all the drugs ahead of the rally, the Coeur de Gazelles pharmacy has everything to meet the needs of its young patients.

He and his sister Majdouline, longtime Coeur de Gazelles volunteers, must adapt their mode of operation to facilitate communication with the children.

They note on each sachet of medicine how to take it, how often and why. The sachets are then given to their teacher, to whom they also give the information orally, in order to be certain that it will be transmitted correctly to the parents when they come to pick up their children.

Khalid and Majdouline, like all the other doctors, do a lot of prevention to teach the children about dental health and overall hygiene. Each consultation and prescription are scrupulously noted on the children's health record, which allows the children concerned to be introduced into the Moroccan health system if necessary. This health record should follow them all their lives, and therefore keeps track of any care they may need as they grow.

These unusual working conditions provide the volunteers with a unique professional experience, taking them out of their comfort zone and allowing them to continue to develop their skills while carrying out useful and sustainable actions.

Thanks to their efficiency, 223 children were received by the caravan in the village of Oulad Driss. Tomorrow, the team will head for Foum Zguid, for another half-day of consultations.

DAY 7 | FOUM ZGUID

For the pleasure of giving!

Yesterday, after finishing their day in Oulad Driss, the volunteers went to give a wheelchair to Fatima, who lives with her son, daughter-in-law and their children not far from the school. Fatima can no longer get up or walk, and daily life is sometimes difficult for her family, who have to take care of her in addition to household chores and work. The family is not rich, and cannot afford to buy a wheelchair for its eldest member.

When the volunteers arrive, the grandmother welcomes them warmly but quickly feels tired and withdraws. Kanza, the doctor, takes the time to examine her and check her general state of health. Apart from her mobility problems, Fatima does not see very well. Kanza gives her some care and advice, then suggests she try the wheelchair.

Fatima settles into the chair with the help of the volunteers and her family. The moment is magic: the grandmother is instantly transformed and grabs the wheels of the armchair with a radiant smile to move it on its own. She is thrilled to have regained her autonomy, and her expression warms the heart. To thank the members of the team, her family offers them tea and peanuts, and the day ends with an unforgettable moment of sharing. The day of consultations at Oulad Driss ended on a joyful note!

The caravan is almost over!

This morning, the Coeur de Gazelles team heads for Foum Zguid , the last leg of this edition. They are welcomed like kings by the teachers and children: the school prepared a formal acceptance speech for them, and the female members of the team each receive a rose!

The children are not left out: the program includes singing, a traditional dance, and an excellent buffet prepared by the mothers.

Once the meal is over, all the volunteers get busy setting up. Unloading boxes, preparing equipment and rooms… They will only be able to receive the children for half a day but will be back tomorrow to examine more young patients.

DAY 8 | FOUM ZGUID SCHOOL

GENERAL REVIEW

This is the last day of the 2022 medical caravan, after 8 very intense days of consultations.

A total of 1215 children were received by the volunteers, with an average age of 9 years. Of these 1215 patients, 1196 received paediatric consultations, 1086 underwent a vision test (268 pairs of glasses were provided), and 469 were seen by the ophthalmologistsAnd finally, 305 medical prescriptions were filled by the pharmacists. Among all the children present on this edition, 83 were taken on by the caravan's patient follow-up team . The diagnoses are often similar from one region to another: rhinitis and allergies linked to dust, umbilical hernias, heart murmurs, but also children with physical or mental disabilities, such as Down's syndrome or autism . These young patients are treated with lots of attention : the volunteers offer them games or toys that will help them develop their intellectual or motor skills.

In addition to the medical consultations, Cœur de Gazelles distributed a great many donations, offered by the Gazelles, to the children, their families, but also to the nomads of the region. The principle ? Tailor each donation bag to the needs of the individual : for example, nomads receive blankets and warm clothes, while village families receive donations according to their standard of living (basic necessitiesst are added when it comes to poorer families), to ensure that each person leaves with everything they need to improve their living conditions.

The Cœur de Gazelles team returns exhausted but happy from its emotional last day at the Aboubaker Razi school. In addition to the kindness and warmth of the welcome given by the director, teachers and partner association, the volunteers had an eventful day.

In parallel with the consultations, the team's midwives, Noura and Hanan, carried out 2 emergency consultations, one on Aïcha, 40, who is experiencing a late and therefore dangerous pregnancy, and the other on Zahra, who suffers from gestational diabetes. The two future mothers leave relieved to have been seen and reassured by the team.

For their part, Aziz and HTA, the paediatric surgeons, have not been idle either! Not one, not two, but three surgical interventions were carried out today. Firstst, the suturing of a small wound, was very simple to perform. The other two, the removal of lipomas or benign tumors, took a little longer: one was on the patient's arm, and the other, much larger, was removed directly from the patient's skull. These interventions are safe, and will greatly ease the daily lives of the patients.

Finally, the other volunteers took care of giving two new wheelchairs. The first was given to a student at the school, Amina, 15, who had her left leg amputated. The second was given to the grandmother of Salh, one of the caravan volunteers, who, because of her age and state of health, can no longer move on her own.

A total of 10 wheelchairs were distributed throughout the 2022 caravan. The volunteers also left one with each school, association or clinic they worked with, so that they could hand them in when needed.

FINAL CURTAIN

The day ended on a high note, with a lovely thank-you ceremony prepared by the school director and the children. Thank you diplomas, small gifts, songs, dances, giggles... A lot of emotions for the volunteers, who alternate between the relief of having carried out their mission and the heartbreak of the end of the caravan and the general goodbye that will soon take place…

Cœur de Gazelles thanks the volunteers from the bottom of their hearts for the dedication and professionalism they have shown during this edition. Without them, the story would never be so beautiful!

We also thank the Gazelles and all our donors, as well as our wonderful partners: Photoweb, France, Goodyear, Aïcha, Dupessey, Sidi Ali and the Diana Holding Foundation. Their unfailing support allows us to achieve our purpose: to help people in need, in a concrete and lasting way..

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