Full from a home cooked meal and tired from preliminary games on the red dirt field outside the schoolhouse, the children now sat at their desks eyes full of anticipation. Calling up several students to hold four landscape pictures, Fatiha – our incredibly gifted instructor – showed the class the four distinct habitats for animals in Morocco. The whole class then matched, one by one, an animal with a region.
Students: "The Atlantic Ocean!"
"The pine forests!"
Giggles and shouts of "Ohoy (no), he lives in the Sahara!"
The last few slides in the Water School showed images of oil spills, sickening displays of overfishing, and meaningless poaching for the tusks of a gentle elephant. What stood out the most in these students was not their outrage or shock – both of which were present and justified – but rather their passion to make a change. With every new image was a new response, a new discussion, and all this from primary-aged schoolchildren. Standing outside that stark white building, red hills of dusty green argan trees and songs of soaring birds spreading out in every direction, the children held their earlier crafted animal masks and signs that read “Happy World Wildlife Day”. Grinning and giggling, they are the reminder of not only why we celebrate this day, but of why it is so important. The future of wildlife is in our hands and in the hands of our children.