ABURY FOUNDATION STORY
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ABURY FOUNDATION
When Andrea Bury first came to Marrakech in 2007 to renovate an old house in the Medina (old part of town), she was quickly fascinated by the extraordinary skills of the artisans. She immerses herself in the culture and gets to know the people. She discovers many wonderful things, but she is also quickly confronted with the challenges of the country, for example, the high illiteracy rate, mainly among women and especially among those who live in rural areas. Among them, it is up to 70 percent. In addition, women participate little in the labour force and are thus dependent. Cheap imports are also a major problem, leading to a drop in the prices of handicrafts. "It's so unfair that people with such wonderful skills don't have the opportunity to earn a living with them," runs through Andrea's mind. Very close to her heart is the empowerment of women and the creation of a fairer world through social entrepreneurship and partnership at eye level. In 2011, the time had come and she founded the ABURY Collection GmbH and the ABURY Foundation gGmbH. With ABURY Collection GmbH, she has high-quality designer accessories produced by artisans in Morocco and sells them internationally. She reinvests 50 per cent of the profits through the ABURY Foundation gGmbH in educational and community projects for the local people and communities.
FIRST INTERCULTURAL EDUCATION PROJECT
The remote Berber villages in Morocco's Atlas Mountains are scattered, largely isolated and women and children in particular lack access to education and exchange. This is why the ABURY Foundation, together with the organisation PENCILS FOR KIDS, is starting an intercultural project week at the school in the Douar Anzal community. In addition to various workshops designed to promote the children's creativity, the programme includes painting, photography and playing together for the local children and their guests from the USA and Spain. As part of the project week, a library has been set up with donated children's books, school materials, notebooks and pens. Each child took home a framed photo as a souvenir of this week full of fun, laughter and new friendships.
LEATHER EMBROIDERY TRAINING CENTRE
To combat the high youth unemployment in Morocco, ABURY Fopundation set up a training centre for young women in Marrakech in 2011, where a tailor couple taught them traditional leather embroidery. In 2011 and 2012, 20 girls and young women have been given the opportunity to acquire the basics for long-term employment.
LITERACY PROGRAMME FOR WOMEN
When the ABURY Foundation started working in Morocco's Atlas Mountains in 2012, it conducted a study on the level of education. One result states that 80 percent of the women there are illiterate. Therefore, she established a literacy programme for women in the village of Douar Anzal, which still exists today. With the help of the non-profit project LABDOO, which collects IT donations and thus enables people without access to computers to receive education in this important field, the programme participants can practise what they have learned on the computer and thus get in touch with the new technologies.
FOUNDING A PRESCHOOL
The ABURY Foundation's Educational Attainment Survey also showed that children between the ages of 6 and 16 have more positive outcomes than adults: over 90 per cent attend school. However, pre-school education is non-existent with the result that many children start school unprepared and also leave after only six years to work. Hence the overall low level of education. "That's why we started a preschool in Douar Anzal - initially with 12 children," says Andrea Bury. "In 2016, we already count 32 children in our class, with another 25 from neighbouring villages on the waiting list. Our teacher confirms that the children from our preschool are the best students in primary school. They dream of becoming doctors or lawyers."
CHAIRS FOR THE SCHOOL
Since the establishment of the ABURY Foundation School in Douar Anzal, more and more parents are enrolling their children there, so that in 2014 even the seating is becoming scarce. Thanks to donations from numerous supporters, the school is receiving new chairs. The special thing about this campaign is that all the chairs are colourfully painted by the school children and labelled with the names of the donors. The motto is: sit colourfully and learn happily for a bright start into a better future!
FIRST ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT
Like everywhere else in the world, growing mountains of plastic waste combined with a lack of waste disposal systems are a real problem in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. This is why the ABURY Foundation is launching the environmental initiative "Keep your village clean!" in September, which aims to raise awareness of environmental protection and sustainability among school children. This is done both in class and during joint waste collection activities, which are now even playful competitions. Whoever collects the most rubbish wins. And that means the admiration and respect of their fellow pupils.
Many areas in Morocco's Atlas Mountains have a low water table, which makes the supply of drinking water extremely difficult. Women and children walk up to five kilometres to the nearest drinking water source every day, leaving little time for education and paid work. Therefore, the ABURY Foundation decides to build a well in Douar Anzal. Four years pass from the analysis of the water quality in cooperation with INGENIEURE WITHOUT FRONTIERS to the installation of an environmentally friendly solar pump. "At the inauguration ceremony, the whole village is on its feet," reports Andrea Bury, who is of course present and gives a speech. "Our thanks go especially to Hamid Ouffata. His donation and his incredible technical knowledge made the construction possible in the first place."
THE DENTIST COMES TO THE SCHOOL
In Morocco, 42.2 percent of children aged 12 already suffer from periodontitis. This gum disease is caused by a high sugar consumption combined with careless tooth brushing behaviour, which is often exemplified by the parents.* Therefore, Heike and Holger Janssen visit the ABURY Foundation School in Douar Anzal together with their children and bring 180 toothbrushes and as many tubes of toothpaste with them: "We have travelled here to supplement school education with topics such as dental hygiene and nutrition. We want to discuss with the children and their parents the consequences of high sugar consumption and what toothpaste does. They also learn from us how to brush teeth properly.* Holger is a dentist and has brought the tooth crocodile with him for this purpose. This way, the widespread fear of the dentist doesn't even arise. For Holger and Heike, the focus is on having fun while learning and helping each other.
*Atlas Dental - Africa 2020" | GFDI
PORTRAID.ORG - ART AIDED CHARITY PROJECT
Together with the famous advertising photographer Thomas Rusch, the ABURY Foundation has launched the art charity project PortrAID. The idea is simple: a well-known photographer takes a portrait of a person in need, the ABURY Foundation sells the unique piece and uses the proceeds to directly help the portrayed person solve his or her problem.
The initial spark for this idea came to Andrea during one of her visits to museums in Marrakech: there, works of art are sold for the benefit of the ARTISANS SANS CATARACT Foundation. The proceeds enable artisans suffering from cataracts to have free operations. Eye disease is a major problem in Morocco - over 45,000 people go blind every year because they cannot afford the operation. More information on this and other projects in Morocco and Ethiopia is available on the PortrAID website.
SCHOOL BACKPACKS FULL OF HOPE
Thanks to the generous donations of ABURY Foundation supporters, the children of the Berber village of Douar Anzal are starting the 2016 school year with a colourful backpack. The #givebackPACKS initiative, launched via BETTERPLACE.ORG in 2015, is bringing smiles to the faces of 30 happy and proud schoolchildren and helping them on their way to a hopeful future.
STREET ART MEETS TRADITION
Are we slowly merging into a global identity that erodes our unique and beautiful cultural differences? How do these changes affect our future and the future of our generations? These questions are buzzing through Andrea's head when she comes to Marrakech in 2008. For Andrea, each handmade Berber bag is a symbol of Morocco's cultural heritage that seemed to be lost to consumerism - each a small piece of cultural identity that is no longer valued. This is how the art project "Pass on the Flame", which will be exhibited at the MARRAKECH BIENNALE in 2016, is born. Andrea wants to know what modern, young artists think about it today. She starts a cooperation with MB6 STREET ARTISTS and Vestalia Chilton, founder and director of Kensington + Chelsea Art Week. Six street artists will receive a Berberbag along with a letter from Andrea and the questions above. The artists are asked to work on the bags and to present their thoughts on the topic of cultural identity in the future - "passing on the flame", so to speak. In this way, six extraordinary individual pieces will be created, which will first be exhibited and then auctioned off for the benefit of the ABURY Foundation. The artists will also come to Douar Anzal and transform the school into a work of art.
VISIT FROM EVA PADBERG
When top model and designer Eva Padberg and Andrea Bury met by chance through a mutual friend, one thing was immediately clear: they share the view that fashion should be ethically produced. And so Eva accepts Andrea's invitation to see the work of the ABURY Foundation on site: "When I bring Eva to our school, everyone is beside themselves, children and adults alike. Eva inspires everyone with her way of approaching people." And so a village festival is soon underway. There is a lot of singing, laughing, dancing, eating and talking. "That is our goal, to promote exchange and understanding," says Andrea Bury happily.
CYCLING FOR A GOOD CAUSE
The schoolchildren in Douar Anzal are amazed: visitors normally come to the village by car and have previously been on a plane to travel to Morocco - not so Marcus Lehman, a sports therapist from Berlin, who is cycling the whole distance within six weeks to collect donations for the children of the village on the way. His goal is to build a sports field and integrate sports lessons into the school curriculum. To achieve this goal, he even teaches the teacher, Lahcen Ididi. But Marcus has even more in his luggage: in addition to lots of good humour and ideas for fun in sports, he also brings the children sports equipment and clothing. And one thing is for sure: in the jerseys with badges of well-known teams like the French first division team Paris St. Germain, the proud children feel like the football stars of tomorrow - after all, football plays a big role in Morocco. Motivation enough to integrate sport into their everyday lives. "Besides training children, we also take care of their health, of course," says Andrea Bury.
DOROTHEE SCHUMACHER AND THE BERBER CARPETS
The weaving of Berber carpets has a long tradition in Morocco, passed down through the generations. For as long as they can remember, the women of Douar Anzal have also been making hand-woven carpets. They are excited about the idea of using their skills to start their own small business and become self-sufficient and independent. No sooner said than done: the ABURY Foundation finds a partner in the German designer Dorothee Schumacher, who supports the women of Douar Anzal not only with her expertise but also with a donation for a weaving frame. Her designs are transformed by the Moroccan women into beautiful, traditionally hand-woven Berber carpets, which henceforth adorn Dorothee Schumacher's showrooms. A great advertisement for the sale of these high-quality Moroccan handicraft products.
NAMIKA'S MUSIC SCHOOL
Many children in Morocco and elsewhere are not allowed to live their creativity freely, even though the development of artistic talent is so important for their development. "That's why we want to start a music school and have asked Namika, a well-known German rapper with Moroccan roots, to help us." Andrea's announcement causes a state of emergency in Douar Anzal, because such a hip hop star is already something very special. The children love music and can't wait to sing and dance together with Namika. The adults also join in and so the day develops into a happy, loud music festival. In her video ALLES WAS ZÄHLT - BONUSFOLGE - GUTES TUN, Namika later reports on her visit and says that music has always helped her in difficult situations and that she wants to pass something on and give something back.
Female POWER WITH SHE'S MERCEDES
The ABURY Foundation and She's Mercedes share a vision of a globalised world where intercultural understanding is key to unlocking potential and strengthening solidarity. "To spread this idea, we have designed a unique experience: an inspiring trip for women to Marrakech", Andrea Bury's second home. "We are creating an environment where women from different cultural backgrounds can connect and exchange ideas, share experiences and learn from each other. An environment where conversations, new perspectives and touching experiences are created." The experience is exceptionally intense for all participants and new friendships are formed in only a short time. The highlight of the trip is the visit to Douar Anzal together with Moroccan Olympic champion and Laureus World Sport Award Ambassador Nawal El Moutawakel. A great honour for the entire region, which is duly celebrated.
PROTECTION FROM COVID-19
With the onset of the worldwide CORONA pandemic, the ABURY Foundation has also had to drastically limit its activities abroad. Nevertheless, donations are of course still being collected and projects planned. In order to protect the children of the ABURY school in Douar Anzal from COVID-19, ABURY ensures that the Moroccan hygiene rules are implemented: Masks are distributed, donated fever-measuring devices are used at the entrance of the school, as well as a disinfection column. Everywhere in the country there is a "sanitary state of emergency", even domestic travel is only allowed with a special permit. At the end of December, the news that King Mohammed VI had ordered his government to provide all citizens and resident foreigners with free vaccination against COVID-19 gave cause for hope that it will soon be possible to enter Morocco again and see the ABURY protégés again.
NEW IN THE TEAM
The ABURY Foundation team has been joined in 2020 by Britt Heß and Heike Janssen. Heike lives in Berlin and met Andrea Bury in the late 90s while working on sponsoring projects. In 2002, she became self-employed and accompanied the founding of the Tribute to Bambi Foundation for Hubert Burda Media. During this time, she gained a lot of valuable experience and contacts, which she now contributes. Britt also lives in Berlin and meets and works closely with Heike as a communications and project manager for the Tribute to Bambi charity event. During this time, she also meets Andrea Bury at a fundraising event. Since 2019, she has been working as a freelance entrepreneur, brand ambassador and mentor for a green lifestyle brand, creating a network for sustainability.