By Claire Spencer
Many folk who live on the Rock will know Charles. In fact, he’s often to be seen on Main Street with his playful labrador, Reuben. These days he’s retired from his days on the dockyard and his other job of running Charles’ ‘Hole in the Wall’ on Calle Comedia, which at one time was the de rigueur destination for visiting Royal Navy ships crew. Of course, times change, the Navy’s seldom in town, and it’s now been transformed into a vegan restaurant, the Kasbar.
Far from taking a back seat and taking things easy in retirement, Charles has turned his hand to helping those less fortunate than himself. One recent afternoon, I visited Charles in his wonderful ornately decorated flat to talk about the incredible work that he does for those less fortunate than himself.
Charles explained how he became involved with the venture a few years ago with children who had essentially been abandoned by their parents for various reasons; maybe social and economic, sometimes the parents simply can’t afford to keep the children, or girls born out of wedlock because of the social stigma attached to this were left to fend for themselves.
Rest assured any money raised on these sites is going to a really worthwhile cause.
The home isn’t strictly an orphanage as such, but more of a place where children can get help with the basics of living, or the girls can learn to improve their domestic skills to earn some money to and help others in the home. Charles said that sometimes donors will pay for the children to have a special outing, for instance, they may go to McDonalds or have a party.
Charles is helped by Hicham, a contact and friend of his in Tangier, who regularly goes shopping with the many kind donations that people give him who know about the project. He was originally aided in this venture by Joe of La Casa del Habana cigar shop on Main Street. At this time, the facilities the children had were very poor with them sleeping on the floor, but Joe and Charles went out and bought beds, furniture, a cooker and a fridge, and made the place a little bit more habitable for them.
Unfortunately, Joe fell victim to Covid earlier in the year, so now Charles is helped by his sister-in-law among others, who raise money for the venture by selling second hand toys and clothing online, whereas she previously sold these at the Morrison’s car boot sale. You may well have seen her items for sale if you are member of these Facebook selling groups locally, and you can rest assured, if you were previously unaware of Charles’ appeal, that any money raised on these sites is going to a really worthwhile cause.
The home later moved from the original place that Charles and Joe helped improve, to a villa in Tangiers, which had more room and facilities including an area with a chicken run. Sadly, the owner put the rent up by a significant amount and the donors they relied on to pay the rent just couldn’t afford the increase; the home then had to move to yet another building some way outside of Tangiers.
Happily, though, the children are still receiving the same loving care thanks to the many kind donations that they received previously. Though donations are harder to come by in the present climate, they are still being helped on a regular basis.
More recently of course, the Covid pandemic has put the project under severe pressure. Charles is more reliant than ever on ad hoc donations given to him by people he meets or by those who drop by La Casa del Habano, who will still take donations now Joe is no longer there, and pass them straight on to Charles.
In this case, as they say, every little really does help. “It’s a little bit here and a little bit there,” Charles explained “but gradually you get enough money together from these donations and from the proceeds of the sale of donated items to send money to Hicham in Tangier so he can then go shopping for food and essentials that are so desperately needed at the home.”
Keep up to date by visiting the Facebook page ‘Ayuda a casa de acogida Tánger’. Donations are always welcome at La Casa del Habano, or you can contact Charles via his Facebook: ‘Charles Trico’ or email him at [email protected] for further details of how you can help out with this very worthy cause. Claire has donated her fee for this article to Charles Trico’s appeal to help disadvantaged children in Morocco.