The origins of our Belazu Foundation can be traced back to 2003, when George decided that it was important for Belazu Ingredient Company to give something to the people of Morocco. His visits to visit argan oil producers in south-west Morocco, the area where argan trees grow, had shown him that in this remote, rural part of the country many children simply did not have access to education. So, George decided to set up first one school then a second in a nearby village, in communities which were totally without schools. Over the next ten years, 350 women and children have been educated in those schools and a women’s centre we set up, learning to read, write and speak French, Arabic and Berber languages.
Every penny that is raised by the Belazu Foundation is matched by the Belazu Ingredient Company. We now sponsor six schools in Morocco, working closely with the Zakoura Foundation to help children and young women in rural areas to receive an education that could provide them with an independent living. In Morocco as well as focussing on education, the Belazu Foundation has looked to help the villagers in practical ways, for example, bringing in clean drinking water to the village of Tidli and installing electricity in the schools.
Closer to home, the Belazu Foundation has also sponsored a school in Oxfordshire for children with complex special educational needs. Having a local school to work with gives us the opportunity to engage more often in a hands-on way. In 2014 we decided to give the school an educational kitchen with money raised through the Foundation; the kitchen was built and installed by our own Belazu Ingredient Company staff. Every year we run an annual summer fun day for the children at the school, run by volunteers from our staff. This year ‘s fun day saw activities including cake pop decorating, making lasagne and a sports day in the kitchen we had built for them.
Most recently, the Belazu Foundation has developed a food education programme entitled ‘Fresh Enterprise’, for schools in and around the London Borough of Ealing in partnership with School Food Matters. Belazu staff have donated their time running a kitchen to alleviate “holiday hunger”, helping children in Barent through the holidays who are reliant on free school meals, through the Make Lunch Programme.
Fundraising events for the Belazu Foundation are loyally supported by our staff, who give time, effort and energy as well as buying raffle tickets and sponsoring colleagues. Events include sponsored walks, cake sales and raffles. Our friendly connections with the catering trade also saw us able to run Monthly supper clubs with some top London restaurants in order to raise funds and spread the word to a larger audience.
Our commitment to reach out and engage supportively with communities both here and in Morocco is genuine and ongoing.
In 2012, George, Adam and Charlie decided to formally set up the Belazu Foundation as a registered charity to promote educational support for deprived children in both Morocco and the UK.