“Not far from a tourist area there is another reality in rural environments where bicycles also play a very special role”

A dozen smiling children, crossing complicit glances and uncontainable rictus of joy, in a small square of earth and stones in the middle of which stands a square building with brightly coloured doors, windows and some lintels. Their impetuous games raise a jovial dust that is not at all uncomfortable. The image is a touching one, made possible on this occasion by the organisation of the Titan Desert by ŠKODA, the mountain bike race that takes place every year in Morocco. For some, it’s an adventure, a challenge and a demanding week of self-improvement. For others, at the same time, it is the arrival of an improvement in their daily lives that is much more important than it may seem.

The Arrojam school in the village of Merzane is the venue for these children’s jollifications brought about by the arrival of bicycles from the Bicis para la Vida by ŠKODA project of the Contador Foundation and the Seur Foundation. For the project, which has already made other deliveries in the north of the country or in the rugged geography of the nearby High Atlas Mountains, this action has a very special component because it is the first occasion on which it brings bikes to the gates of the Sahara Desert. Merzane is about 20 kilometres from the more famous and crowded Merzouga, a tourist attraction due to its unmistakable dunes. The geographical location varies, but the usefulness of the delivery remains equally important.

“It’s true that the Merzouga area is better known, more touristy, but you don’t have to go far to find, in the surrounding area, small villages and towns with needs where any help is always welcome and important,” says Hafid El Rhadiouni, Bicis para la Vida by ŠKODA man in Morocco. “Water needs, various infrastructures, sanitary products… Not far from a tourist area there is another reality in rural environments where bikes also play a very special role, for example, to get to school. These bikes do a lot of good,” he says. The Rhadiounini keeps in touch with all the communities, monitors the good use of the bikes, and surveys the sites where the next deliveries can be made.

The synergies of cooperation and resources in the third sector make it possible to amplify the echo of the actions and their effects. That is why on this occasion the organisation of the Titan Desert and the Czech automobile company wanted to extend an invitation to Bikes for Life by ŠKODA to take advantage of the logistics of the caravan and to be able to make a delivery. The preparations, the permits, in short, setting up an entire expedition of this kind, is complex. “The bikes, these bikes, are more than just a tool for sport or play. They are part of their future, of their life, and we are sure that they will serve to improve the quality of life of these children. The world of bicycles is a fundamental part of ŠKODA and that is why it is a real pleasure for us to be able to collaborate with this action,” says Fidel Jiménez de Parga, Managing Director of ŠKODA Spain.

“So far we have done more deliveries in the Atlas Mountains, which geographically is very different at all levels, with worse access infrastructures, with bad roads… People there have to learn first how to use the bikes and how to maintain them, develop a great involvement and through local associations pamper their care and that they can be used by everyone in the village. In the south the ease of use is greater in the sense that there are better paths, even asphalted roads and routes, but the distances between villages and schools are there. Every bike is always welcome,” concludes El Rhadiouni.

[📷 Lucas Mansur]