In 2015, a group of Tangier’s residents observed some families with disabled members struggle to relax on Dalia Beach; the situation inspired a desire to help. “We clearly saw that these families were uncomfortable on the beach, and felt deprived,” said Mohamed El-Hisho, the 2015 president of the Moroccan Sahel Association for Development and Culture. Shortly after, he gathered with local community members to form an initiative and assist people with disabilities to swim at Dalia Beach. The result was transformative.
Those who cannot get into the water by themselves are greeted by a team of volunteers. Wheelchair users are assisted down a ramp, then offered special float equipment giving them access to the water. To ensure a safe experience, volunteers swim alongside the beach guests.
The Tangier based organization runs its services at no cost and feels grateful to make a positive impact. “Seeing them happy after swimming for the first time is our biggest reward,” said Najwa al-Musallam, one of the volunteers.
Dalia Beach is Morocco’s first to facilitate this social project and hopes to inspire other Moroccan beaches to do the same. Families who previously expressed feeling limited and marginalized in these situations said that Dalia Beach volunteers are removing many obstacles. “Before, (families) didn’t have full freedom to enjoy the beach like others, and couldn’t swim like everyone else. They have the will, and now there is a big difference,” Rahimo, a mother of a child with Down Syndrome.
Dalia Beach is located 40 km east of Morocco’s intellectual capital Tangier. The beach is known for it’s turquoise blue Mediterranean waters, hilltop goats, and scenic views facing the Rock of Gibraltar.