The Women’s Rally “Aïcha des Gazelles” is held in the deserted parts of southern Morocco. It has a huge following and almost 200 women’s teams take part. But there are no easy GPS systems to help you navigate in this Rally and it’s not about Formula 1 type speed on flat slick surfaces – not at all. We are talking old-fashioned navigation and only on nightmarish off-road surfaces, like some incredibly steep sand dunes.
It takes brave hearts to take on the challenge of this Rally – the type of hearts that are found looking after children in Princess Grace Hospital. And for this Rally it is women’s hearts only that count because its distinctive feature is that participation is for women only.
Aicha is derived from an Arabic word meaning “alive and well” which fits well with Princess Grace’s hospital two caregivers Patricia Cappelli and Lorène Ilacqua, who take part in this Rally for their love of children. They are colleagues in the pediatric-neonatal department of CPHG.
Lorène, is a 36-year-old from Menton, a childcare nurse looking after hospitalized children including those who had pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PIMS). And her warm-hearted colleague is Patricia Cappelli, a 56-year-old childcare assistant from Roquebrune.
They don’t have a moment to dwell on the 20 years difference in their ages; there is one uniting thought to help children wherever they are in the world, children in Monaco and equally children in Morocco.
Patricia and Lorène have reportedly already collected 35,000 euros in a funding campaign, half of which covers the registration fees for the competition which supports the participants.
Princess Grace Hospital has put their weight behind the two in an unusually kind gesture to help raise funds to participate in the Rally and in the hope that enough will be raised to also donate funds to a children’s charity looking after Moroccan children with special needs.
Fittingly their 4×4 Toyota KZJ 73 in the race is customized with baby images in silhouette – reminiscent of the “pitchouns” (small children) they care for. That’s the name of their team too – “Pitchouns Gazelles”.
Mission Enfance is a Monegasque association which helps children in distress around the world.
And Patricia and Lorene have chosen to target a nursery project in Burkina Faso. For 20 years, the nursery there has been collecting donated babies and have created, alongside, a special training program for the staff. So the hope is there will be enough funds left to give the balance entirely to this project …. in addition to the bags of warm things they are taking with them for the children.
The Rally – Aicha des Gazelles
Technical and administrative checks have already taken place as has the official start which took place this Saturday in Nice , where the majority of the 195 crews galvanized themselves for their trek in Morocco. There was also a specific gathering of E-Gazelle entrants in the race in Monaco, who are taking to the road under the eyes of Princess Stéphanie. There is an electrical prototype created in 2017 with the support of the Prince Albert II Foundation which is a first in the world of rallies. There is a type of “Gazelle Lab” testing and developing new ecological mobility innovations with the company Innovations VE. The LAB will host an Eden electric 2 CV Méhari Club with photovoltaic panels which be will making its first test runs in real desert conditions in the Rally.
Formidable challenges climbing the desert sand dunes notwithstanding – all thoughts are on the children that Patricia and Lorene and Monaco’s charity are lining up to care for – so so far from the safe haven of the Principality itself.