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An education is something we take for granted in the Netherlands, but this isn’t the case for young girls in many parts of Morocco. Nassira Boudhan (40) has experienced this first hand and believes passionately that it should change. With her label, Fashion for Education (FFORE), she is giving women and children in her native region and later, she hopes, in the whole of Morocco the chance to get an education and have a brighter future.

“I was almost eight when I moved to the Netherlands from Morocco. I’ve always loved it here, but there was something that kept nagging at me. A gut feeling that got stronger and stronger over the years. I felt I had no choice but to do something about it. I longed to give young Moroccan girls in my native region of Beni Boughafar, and later perhaps in the whole of the Rif area or even throughout the whole country, the opportunity to go to school just like their counterparts in the Netherlands.
I was born in the little town of Sammar in Morocco. It’s in a beautiful but remote mountain area. Because my father and uncles were working in the West, my grandfather was the head of the family. He decided who went to school and who didn’t. The girls in the family weren’t accorded that privilege. They had to go for Koran lessons at the mosque around the corner. But although I was only six years old, I didn’t like going there. I wanted to go to school! To learn to read and write - even if I didn’t yet understand that I would have to walk 6 miles every day to get there.
Every morning I secretly followed the girl next door who was allowed to go to school. I should really have gone straight back home because I wasn’t on the register. Luckily the teacher thought it was too dangerous for me to walk around on my own, although he did say I should ask my grandfather for the family book so he could register me. When I got home I immediately started rooting around in my parents’ cupboard for it, with an angry mother and grandmother standing over me telling me I must never do that again! But I did. Three months later I could read and write – and I was my grandfather’s pride and joy.”

“After we moved to the Netherlands, I was allowed to choose what to learn and where. After grade school, I went to high school and then on to a local college, but my family wouldn’t have minded if I’d gone away to study. The world was my oyster. But my happiness was increasingly overshadowed by the realization that girls in my native region of Morocco don’t have all these opportunities. It’s often impossible for them to get to a high school, it’s too expensive to stay in lodgings, and anyway parents are not keen to expose their daughters to the hostile outside world.
In 2010, I was working as a marketing manager for a bank when I found out about the Bink foundation. Every year it supports a different project that targets the children of a specific country. Suddenly everything fell into place! Working with Bink, I first looked into what was needed in the Beni Boughafar region in terms of education. And that turned out to be a whole lot. People there needed to be informed about the importance of education, education needed to be made more accessible, and women needed to have the chance to earn their own money so that their children could go to school.
We wanted to keep our project small, so we decided to tackle just one of these needs: making education more accessible. There are schools in some places, but no bus service. And it’s too far and too dangerous for young girls to walk to school. We threw a big fund-raising party in 2011 to get the money together to buy some buses. The buses were delivered in Morocco, putting education within the reach of a large group of boys and girls in the area.”
“My agreement with Bink was that after completing the project with them, I would tackle the other needs on my own. I gave up my job as a marketing manager and started working full time on my own label: FFORE. FFORE stands for education for every child. I design clothes, housewares and accessories in the Netherlands which I have made by women in Morocco. Because the women can earn their own money this way, they are able to afford an education for their children and often for themselves as well. For me it’s important to sell products that are made according to traditional methods, so that these handicrafts are revived and preserved. Examples of our crafts include leatherworking, spinning wool, weaving and embroidery. For the same reason I decided to incorporate a red and white woolen cloth called a mendil into all FFORE products. The mendil used to be worn as a scarf, apron or blanket by just about all women in north-west Morocco. I have them made into skirts, but also bags with leather details made from leftover leather I get from Wolky. In this way, FFORE helps women generate income so they can afford an education, and I also use the profits from FFORE to support educational ­projects in Morocco. So we’re killing two birds with one stone. All FFORE products are sold via my web store, but in the future I also want to start working with stores that believe in sustainable entrepreneurship. The nagging feeling I once had has gone. Now I’m living my dream and I’m so happy and grateful that I can do this!”

More information:

Copy Fleur Baxmeier


Bag made from Wolky leather offcuts (photograph: Kiekus Fotografie)

Buy FFORE products! From iPad covers and bags to shorts, jeans and skirts. Traditional handicrafts in modern, trendy designs. Find the complete label collection at