HEART OF GAZELLES would like to thank:

TOTAL, Medical Caravan sponsor for the past 8 years, is a company which, in addition to its primary function as an energy provider, is firmly committed to its core values: respect for others, ethics and solidarity. TOTAL puts its trust and support in the Medical Caravan, in partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Health, represented by the honourable Minister Yasmina Baddou; the Ministry for Family, Solidarity and Social Development, represented by the honourable Minister Nouzha Skalli; and the National Mutual Aid Office, represented by its Director, Dr. Talbi. THANK YOU to TOTAL ENERGY GROUP for its enduring commitment to the Medical Caravan.

As well as:

. The Moroccan Ministry of Health
. The Moroccan Ministry for Family, Solidarity and Social Development
. The Moroccan National Mutual Aid Office
. The Provincial Health and National Mutual Aid Delegations (Errachidia, Zagora and Tata)
. The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles
. Sanofi–Aventis Moocco
. Modern’Optique,  NIDEK and ESSILOR
. The Moroccan Diabetes Federation
. The Glaucoma Association
. The Tagounite Heritage, Culture and Civilization Association
. ALBASSAR Association
. KOTEBA Association
. The Eco-Caravan
. All of our volunteers (both medical and logistical)
. GreenWatchers

Actions and Results

Actions and results of the TOTAL / Heart of Gazelles 2011 Medical Caravan:

Leg 6, March 31st: Mhimia

45 minutes from Foum Zguid by the paved road that leads to Tata, Mhimima has a population of close to 1,400.

We are received with honours by the local authorities: the CAID of Tissint, the presidents of the local Associations, the province’s Chief Medical Officer, CIAAP officials.
We set up in the 7 rooms of the Health Centre placed at our disposal.
We are the first to use the Mhimima Centre, due to be inaugurated as soon as it is staffed with medical personnel.
Today’s setup, more than comfortable than that of the previous days, allows us to efficiently process the many patients who are already waiting. Most are from the village, others are from Tissint, Zaouia and Agadir.

200 children are installed in the Berber tent. They are given Skiacol drops in their eyes, to block accommodation so that an objective vision measurement can be obtained using the autorefractor.
The gynaecologists are able to confirm several pregnancies after performing ultrasounds.  

This is intense day, the last day of the Caravan, leaves us with the feeling of a mission accomplished.
Today’s total: 1008 consultations.

Final total: 6382.


Leg 6, March 30th: the Nomads

After 2.5 hours along a sandy and rocky desert trail, we reached the Iriqui Plateau for our 4th consecutive annual visit. The Nomads come to receive specialized care to which they do not normally have access. The population is small, but part of the Caravan’s mission is to provide aid to isolated communities such as this one.
The Nomads live in tents for 3 seasons of the year. In summer the tents are unbearably hot, and they stay in houses made of wood and desert vegetation (Aachiches).

The Caravan is also here to visit the Gazelles Nomad School, which is supported by the actions of Heart of Gazelles; the school has more than 25 students who will soon be attending a government school in Tagounite.

Yesterday’s tents were reinstalled during the night near the Chegaga dunes; for 6 hours straight the doctors dispense 325 consultations before returning to Foum Zguid.

Total consultations to date: 5374.


Leg 5, March 29th: Tiraf

12 km from Tagounite. According to historical texts and the ruins found in the high mountains - including a large necropolis in Tidrit - the douar of Tiraf dates back to before Jesus. The site is home to nomads as well as 500 permanent residents. The nomads own the date plantations, in which the residents work. The 2 populations live in harmony and mutual respect. The region's 1200 nomads follow their animals across Morocco's pastureland. We set up in Tiraf's uninhabited health centre.

Today's target population includes the residents of Tiraf and Lkbir and the nomads.

The local Association, well organized as usual, installs nomad tents next to the health centre, serving as consultation rooms that are quickly filled with patients.

During the afternoon we receive an unexpected visit from the Governor of Zagora accompanied by the Health delegate, come to honour the work of the Medical Caravan doctors, assisted by the doctors from Zagora and Red Cross volunteers.
An ambulance is made available in case of emergency.

Today's total: 875 consultations
Cumulative total to date: 5049 after 6 days

Leg 5, March 28th: Ighit Nighir


2 hours by desert trail from MCISSI, this village is home to 300 inhabitants living in scattered houses between the dunes and the djebel (mountain) between Merzouga and Zagora. The school is made available for our use: no classes today for the students, who receive drops of Skiacol in their eyes before being examined 40 minutes later by the ophthalmologist and the opticians.

Every child of the village is examined. The adults consult with the family doctors, the women with the gynaecologists as well. The entire population of the ksar receives medical care.
The Kalifa, informed of our arrival, comes to thank us. The Donations unit prepares many gifts and gives them to the 120 students of the school. Special prizes are presented to those at the top of their class.

In the afternoon, a 6 year old girl with febrile convulsions (fever over 40°) requires an emergency transfer to the ERRACHIDA hospital, 125 km from the village. IMANE, the paediatrician, prescribes an antipyretic and a tepid bath to bring down her fever.
The transfer is complicated to organize due to the unavailability of the local ambulance. After 2 hours of negotiations with the authorities, we have to leave for Zagora at the end of the day, leaving the khalifa in charge of having the child transferred as quickly as possible.

We then have three hours by trail (4x4), 5 hours by road (trucks) to reach the Oasis Palmiers for a meeting with the Health Delegate and his team, to discuss the Caravan's actions and results.
Today's total: 888 consultations.

Leg 4, March 27th: Khemilia

The village of "Sand Pigeons", otherwise known as the Gnaoua village, is home to 50 families who are waiting for the clinic to open when we arrive. Today we set up in the house of the President of the local Association. Each room is assigned a medical function. The consultations take place all day long, allowing the population to get back to their normal business as soon as possible.

Malika MENARD, Miss France 2010, joins us for this leg; she is quickly surrounded by the little girls of the village.

Dr. RAISS pays us a visit with his team to see the Medical Caravan at work. Today the Donations Unit is giving much-needed shoes to all of the local children. They are also given toys, producing smiles on all sides.

Today's total: 727 consultations.


Leg 3, March 26th: Merzane

This morning we drive to Merzane, a rural community one hour from the bivouac. Des maisons éparses longent les carrières. The population is 360, semi-sedentary nomads who make a living de l'exploitation des gisements de fossiles. Dés notre arrivée, aprés une rapide installation dans les locaux de l'école et de l'association locale, les patients défilent sereinement au tri organisé par le coordinateur médical le Docteur Mejdi et le Major Mhamdi. Comme chaque matin les patients sont orientés vers chacune des spécialités de la caravane médicale, notamment les 115 enfants de l'école.
Aujourd'hui, un cas nous interpelle. Khadija, une petite fille de 13 mois doit subir impérativement une transplantation du foie, dans les 2 ans à venir.

A 12 h, Adriana KAREMBEU et André MANOUKIAN arrivent en convoi, accompagnés de notre partenaire en titre TOTAL, et de MODERN OPTIQUE sponsor de la cellule optique. Ils constatent  l'aboutissement de leur investissement sur les actions de COEUR DE GAZELLES qui grâce à la rapidité et à l'efficacité de cette équipe a permis, aujourd'hui, de dispenser plus de 620 actes et dépistages auprés de la population.

A l'issue des consultations, l'équipe médicale est conviée à l'Hôpital de Erfoud où elle assiste en direct aux interventions chirurgicales de la cataracte par le Dr Raiss, grâce à une diffusion télévisée. Chacun pose les questions concernant les dernières techniques dans ce domaine.
La cataracte est la première cause de cessité au Maroc. 90 000 cas sont à opérer sur une année, seuls 45 000 le sont effectivement (plus de 23 000 par le Public et 22 000 par le privé). De ce fait prés de 45 000 cas restent en suspens sur l'année. Le réhaussement de la qualité de la chirurgie de la cataracte permet une récupération visuelle et assure une meilleure insertion sociale.

Leg 2, March 25th: Oukhit

West of Erfoud and 35 km along the road from Tinedjat, this douar includes 450 families living close to the barite mines.
We set up quickly in the school and in Berber tents installed for the occasion by the inhabitants of the village; more than a hundred students from 6 to 14 years old are waiting, under the close supervision of their teachers. The  school Principal and the President of the local Association have done everything they could to facilitate the work of the medical team. The priority is to check the vision and examine the eyes of all of the students. The gynaecologists examine the many women who have come to see them. The ultasound works as hard as it can, allowing  the future mothers discover the sex of their babies. The family doctors, paediatricians and nurses in charge of diabetes testing set up under the Berber tents to receive the people in need of care or consulation. Donations are distributed directly to the population, and especially to families in need.

Our hosts express their gratitude in many different ways; a musical presentation by the local Gnaoua group brings this intense day of consultations to a close. Today is a festive day for this population, unused to receiving so much  attention.

On the way back to the bivouac, some membes of the team stop at the hospital in Erfoud where the Albassar team has come to operate on the cataract patients detected the day before.

1189 consultations (280 in general medicine, 84 paediatric, 201 diabetes tests, 194 vision tests with 21 pairs of glasses provided, 115 in ophthalmology with 10 cases of cataracts and 300 Trachoma tests, 25 gynaecological exams including 18 ultrasounds). 504 prescriptions and 1460 boxes of medicine were provided. 2 wheelchairs were given to handicapped people.



Leg 1, March 24th: Tafraoukht

Situated 1 hour west of Rissani by 4x4, this douar includes 80 families from across the region of Tamgroumte. The population apparently had not been informed of our visit.
Nonetheless, word of mouth soon got results. After the doctors got set up according to their specialties, the consultations began as soon as the first patients arrived.


248 consultations were dispensed and the first transfers organized to the hospital in Erfoud.
Our Ophthalmologist MOUNIR identified 4 cases of cataracts, 3 of whom were referred to the hospital. Chantal accompanied 2 of the patients to Erfoud, where the mobile surgery unit Itinéris ALBASSAR prepared them for surgery scheduled for the next day, Friday, with Dr. RAISS.
A little girl was referred for motor impairment in her legs, a month-old baby for vaccination, and a hypotrophic baby for examination after a premature birth.
Dr. BOUJERHOUAD discovered 3 cases of diabetes, including a serious case of hyperglycemia. The patient was transferred to the same hospital, where further tests will be carried out and appropriate treatment will be provided. A little girl was treated for a chalazion cyst. 3 pregnancies were diagnosed.

For the Eco-Caravan daily report: visit their website


March 22 and 23: Preparations

These were two days of travelling for the members of the Caravan,  from France in the case of the gynaecologists, opticians and logistics personnel, and Rabat or Meknès in the case of the Moroccan doctors.

In the grounds of Les Celliers de Meknès, the Gazelles handed over their donations, which were then loaded into the AICHA trucks that were headed south to where the bivouac was already set up.
On reaching the bivouac, the members of the Caravan put up their tents. The trucks and the KOTEBA van were organized according to their function. Drinking water and military rations were loaded into the vehicles, ready for the next day.

A briefing was held at the end of these two intense days spent organizing and loading material. André Manoukian, Patron of Heart of Gazelles, and Dominique SERRA, Director-General of the  Rallye AICHA DES GAZELLES DU MAROC, thanked Marina and Chantal who worked all year long to make the actions of Heart of Gazelles and the TOTAL / HEART OF GAZELLES Medical Caravan a success. This meeting allowed the group to work together to define the working method for the 8 legs to come.


The Partner

TOTAL is an international energy company committed to providing a sustainable response, through innovation and initiative, to the world's growing energy demand.
In addition to its primary function as an energy provider, TOTAL maintains an ongoing commitment to transparency, dialogue and respect for others.

The fourth largest international oil and gas company and a major chemicals manufacturer, TOTAL operates in more than 130 countries and has more than 111,000 employees.
The company is dedicated to meeting the challenges of all of its businesses when developing natural resources, protecting the environment, integrating operations into host country cultures, and dialoguing with civil society.
For the 8th consecutive year, the Medical Caravan is benefiting from the sponsorship of TOTAL.


9 4x4 vehicles
1 AICHA truck (medical equipment and supplies, medicine)
1 AICHA truck (donations)
1 KOTEBA van (donations)
1 ambulance
1 Itinéris mobile surgery unit
2 autorefractors
1 slit lamp
1 ultasound
Consultation materials and supplies
Communication materials
Bivouac equipment
1 reception tent
1 generator

Route of the Medical Caravan in 2011

Thursday March 24th
Village de TAFROUKHT

Friday March 25th
Village de OUKHIT
Inaugurations Ecole Tamsguidat / Ecole Merzouga / Puits Nejjack

Saturday March 26th

Sunday March 27th

Monday March 28th
Inauguration Puit de BAHLOU

Tuesday March 29th

Village de TIRAF (nomades semi-sédentaires)

Wdnesday March 30th

Nomades Lac IRIQUI
Visite à l’Ecole des GAZELLES – enfants nomades de IBEYD

Thursday March 31st
Village de MHIMIMA
Inauguration Puits FOUM ZGUID

A 35-member Franco-Moroccan team


Chantal VITELLI – Vice President of Heart of Gazelles
In charge of the MEDICAL CARAVAN

Caroline VITELLI – MEDIA Relations / WEBSITE

Marina VRILLACQ – President


Jamil Mejdi  - Anesthesiology  / Medical Coordinator

Saïd KOULOU – Family Medicine / Dialysis

Elisabeth VANCONSTENOBLE – Obstetrics / Gynaecology

Guenola FAUCHEUR-BRABANT – Obstetrics / Gynaecology

Jean Pierre GARDAIR– Family Medicine

Oussama ALAMI OAHABI – Anesthesiology / Paediatrics / Gynaecology / Diabetes

Imane EL HAMI – Paediatric Emergency Medicine

Lhacen BOUJERHOUAD – Family Medicine / Diabetes

El Maati MOUNIR – Optometrist – Moroccan Glaucoma Association


Partner: Association ALBASSAR pour les Maladie et la Chirurgie Oculaire
Dr Abderrahmane RAISS – Ophthalmologic Surgeon and his team
ITINERIS Mobile Surgery Unit, based at Erfoud Hospital, from March 23 - 27



Majdouline – Assistant Pharmacist


Florence BAILLY – Optician

Elisabeth CHESNAIS – Optician

Thierry LOPEZ – Optician Teacher (C.R.I.P.)


Abdou BOUJDIB – Diabetes Nurse – Moroccan Diabetes Federation

4 nurses from Errachidia & 3 nurses from Zagora (in relay)


Catherine DUPOND
In charge of the Donations Unit

Didier HARDY
Donations Unit

Christiane IVARS
Donations Unit

Christèle VALERIAN
Donations Unit

Louis-Pierre LACONDE
Donations Unit

Donations Unit

Media Pilot