Through Paul Halbedel
the Sand marathon is one of the biggest solidarity races in the world. Organized in the Moroccan Sahara, the 35e edition of this event brought together 750 participants, from 1uh until October 11, 2021. Their goal? Browse 250 km in seven days in the desert food self-sufficiency.
Based in Drémil-Lafage, near Toulouse, the association Letters from the desert – which carries out actions in favor of schooling of children in the region of Zagora to Morocco – will be represented during this course by a team of five runners which will shed light on its cause. Among them, figure in particular Jean-Michel Tavernier, a runner living in Aigrefeuille and suffering from diabetes, who had already completed the 2019 edition.
The story of a pact made on Christmas Eve 2018
The association Letters from the desert was created two and a half years ago by Audrey Setbon. In 1999, she went to Morocco. While walking in the middle of the desert, she meets children who lead her to their school. “They didn’t have a slate and a piece of chalk to work on. This meeting attracted me for life, ”she confides.
Almost 20 years later, the teacher returns to the scene and realizes that the situation has not really changed for these children of the desert. During this trip she meets Abdelhadi Elmoustahli, a runner from Zagora. They challenge each other during a meal on the evening of December 25, 2018.
“He dreamed of running the Marathon des Sables and we had this common desire to help these children from nomadic families to access school in good conditions. We made a pact: he became to run the Marathon des Sables and I took care of setting up the association. In April 2019, Abdou ran the MDS and was classified in eighth place. The same year, in September, the association equipped the children of two schools with school furniture, satchels and bicycles. . “
Many actions start in the space of two years
Since its creation, the association has stepped up actions in favor of these desert children and their families. In addition to equipping the students of four schools with bicycles, satchels and school supplies, it also supplied the libraries of these establishments with books and briefly equipped the teaching teams with digital material.
“In this region where the child mortality rate is high and where some mothers have to raise their own, we have also created a bakery workshop in Zagora. Today, 16 women make a living from their work. – here. And the objective now is to install a tea room there to welcome tourists. “
Bring water to schools in the region
But the project which fully occupies the Drémil-Lafage association in this year 2021, consists of allow the pupils of these schools and their families to have access to water in a region where the populations are often condemned to wait for the weekly passage of a tanker truck.
“We launched a fundraising to allow the students of these schools and 500 inhabitants of these villages to have access to water through the drilling of wells, the installation of piping systems … Bring the water in schools also means equipping them with sanitary facilities.You should know that these schools are in the middle of the desert.
It is with the objective of collecting donations for this project, the total amount of which is estimated at nearly € 40,000 what will the five riders entered under the colors of the association run Sand marathon.
They will run for the letters of the desert
The team of runners from the Les Lettres du Désert association will be led by Abdelhadi Elmoustahli, the secretary of the association, who took eighth place in the Marathon des sables when he first participated in 2019. By Jean-Michel Tavernier, finisher of the Marathon des sables in 2019. Diabetic, this inhabitant of Aigrefeuille challenged himself to participate in the last edition of the Marathon des sables to show all those suffering from this disease that it is possible to continue to take on sporting challenges. The three other members of this team are the Swiss runner Lilou Anne Labatut (our photo) who finished the last two editions of the Marathon des sables, the Belgian Gwenaelle Michaux who participated in 2018 in the Grand trail de la Vallée du Drâa and finally the trail runner from Troyes Thimothée Desrumeaux (our photo) who was finisher of the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Marathon des sables.
Photo: L.-A. Labatut and T. Desrumeaux – © Marathon des sables
Through their sporting feat in the dunes of Morocco, these five extreme sportsmen thus hope to give good visibility to the online jackpot launched by the Drémil-Lafage association to enable the latter to meet its challenge: to allow these students and families in the Zagora region to have access to water.
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