The artist teaching English to kids in Tamazight

In the heart of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, life may seem simple and often overlooked by the outside world. Yet, through the lens of an amateur photographer and artist, Mohamed Ouala, this simple life of a mountainous village is being captured and shared with the world on social media attracting a lot of followers.

His iconic images of village life combined with the local Amazigh culture has made him a rising social media star. This has attracted the attention from the media, including interviews with national channels like 2M.

Mohamed Ouala has always had a fascination with capturing the beauty of his surroundings. Although he was born in a city, he has always been enamored with the simple yet fulfilling lifestyle that a village offers. However, it was only when he started sharing his photographs on social media that he realized the impact he could have.

I’d love to see people of my age going back to their origins and trying to make a lasting impact in the lives of their communities

Mohamed Ouala

Although Mohamed Ouala is known for photographing the life in the Atlas mountains, his main occupation is teaching English. And he recently embarked on an initiative of teaching English outdoors to kids in the high Atlas mountains using their mother tongue, Tamazight.

An outdoor English class in Morocco taught by Mohamed Ouala.

Mohamed Ouala calls his program English in Tamazight. Maghreb magazine reached out to Mohamed Ouala for an interview.

Maghreb magazine: What can you tell us about yourself?

Mohamed Ouala: My full name is Mohamed Ouala. I’m known as Dahmad. It’s an Amazigh appellation of my first name. I was born and raised in Settat, a city near Casablanca. I currently live in Marrakech and work as an English teacher at a private school.

Maghreb magazine: You have this on-going initiative teaching English outside a classroom to Amazigh kids in a remote village. How did you come up with the idea? And how was the engagement of the students?

Mohamed Ouala: Sharing what I know with others has always been part of who I am. When these kids found out that I’m an English teacher, they asked if I can start teaching it to them as well. I cheerfully accepted and eventually the story begun to take place every weekend in an outdoor classroom. I chose the latter given my strong devotion to nature.

Maghreb magazine: What is the biggest challenge these kids in remote villages face in school? 

Mohamed Ouala:  Based on what I have been noticing, kids in these communities rarely if ever make it to middle school, especially girls. Dropping out of school has always been a clear trend.

Maghreb magazine: What impact do you hope to make on your community?

Mohamed Ouala: I’d love to see people of my age going back to their origins and trying to make a lasting impact in the lives of their communities.

Maghreb magazine: What is next for you?
Mohamed Ouala: For the time being I’m focusing on this project that I named “English in Tamazight”. I am still working on shaping its philosophy; maybe it can become a model and used as an example in our national educational system.