We thought we’ve seen it all. Then this incredible story came in an email and totally blew us away.
One chilly day in Early January this year, we received an email from an U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Mr. Dan Driscoll. Mr. Driscoll conveyed in his email that he was stationed in a small, secluded valley in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where he was teaching local mountain villagers to set up and design Wix websites. The valley he said he was stationed at – Ait Bougamez – is so isolated that nearly a hundred kilometers and multiple mountain ranges separate it from the nearest town. A typical home in the village is made of thick mud walls with a mud roof which gives the valley a very distinct look. Mr. Driscoll also appended a life affirming comment, stating that ‘Mud roofs for the record, are not much fun in the winter’. As we were going through his email (‘Electricity was introduced to the village in 2003’, ‘Less than 1% of the population can speak English’) we couldn’t help but wonder: Is this a hoax? A practical joke? A Trojan horse from Weebly?
We decided to take a closer look to find out what we were really dealing with here. We emailed Dan a few times, compared notes, dental records, used feminine intuition and drank viciously strong black coffee. And eventually, we had our man. And G-d, what a man he is.
Meet Dan Driscoll
Dan Driscoll is an all-American guy, who at 24, began experiencing some serious discomfort with the world around him. He decided he needed a change: a true opportunity to reach out to those less fortunate and a chance at some true, first-hand contact with people you normally read about in the paper. So Dan made the next logical step. He had a Budweiser. And then he joined the U.S. Peace Corps.
Dan Goes to Morocco
Dan was stationed at the remote valley of Ait Bougamez in Morocco. He tells us that the valley has gone through some dramatic changes last ten years. The first road was introduced back in 1999, followed by electricity in 2003 and a basic dial up internet in 2006. The arrival of technology in Ait Bougamez meant a first chance at visibility for an otherwise obscure and little seen community. Some villagers were beginning to realize the power of the new media but didn’t know how to use it to their benefit. This is where their knight in shining armor came in: Dan Driscoll, watching over all this, decided he would help the villagers rise up to the challenge – namely– he would teach them how to Wix.
Wix in Africa
26 Villagers enlisted to Dan’s ‘how-to-Wix’ class. Dan said he chose Wix since he felt it to be an ideal tool for ‘breaking glass ceilings for the poor populations of the world’. Wix being a free service with a highly accessible interface guarantee that websites will no longer be the sole domain of the rich and privileged. According to Dan, the villagers’ first response to Wix was that of disbelief. they were skeptical about being able to build a website with little background in computers. Amazingly enough, all 26 people who enlisted the course successfully mastered the basics. This means they can now independently set up a website from scratch and utilize all the basic features such as add and editing text, adding photos, design basics and linking page to page.
To give you an idea of their progress, here’s some of the websites created by Dan’s first study group in Ait Bougamez’s:
Brahim Mansouri is a local wood carver and the village’s new internet guru. Together with Dan, he co-founded Atelier De Sculpteur which is now maintained by him and fellow carvers. This site has connected a small group of wood carvers to the global market, allowing for exposure and growth while preserving the artists’ traditional craft:
Brahim Nagi is a local tour guide offering tour packages for individuals and families in Southern Morocco: