Employees from Novo Nordisk renovate a school in Morocco

In May, about 350 employees from Novo Nordisk went to Marrakech to take part in the Global Brand Summit. One issue at the agenda stood out from the rest: Restoration of a primary school in a nearby village.

In a dusty village 12 km outside Marrakech a primary school is situated. The village is Ouled Massoud, and teachers work two shifts a day to instruct all 102 of the village's entire 5-9-year-old children. The school is in a quite bad state of repair.

5 May 2010, 350 employees from Novo Nordisk set out on a very special mission: To ensure a better learning environment for the children.

The employees arrive in a convoy of dust-churning minivans. They are met by the children, boys on the left, girls on the right, and greeted with shouts of "Bonjour monsieur, madame! Ca va?" The boys turn thumbs up and the girls offer shy smiles as all 350 employees, delighted and surprised, file past and into their school compound.

Work hard to get everything done

For three hours they work hard to do everything that needs to be done to the school. In the small concrete schoolroom the painting work is proceeding well. Outside, other hands are sanding window grilles, painting desks, renovating a football pitch and erecting the village's first playground.

"We're just spending three hours, and it affects their school for a long time," says Yves-Alain Faure, from Novo Nordisk in Belgium.

Social responsibility through employee engagement

"It is a teambuilding event that allows us to give something back," says Duncan Simmonds, Global Brand Manager in Novo Nordisk.

The restoration of the school in Ouled Massoud is in line with Novo Nordisk efforts to enrich the communities in which the company operates. The employee engagement programme, TakeAction, gives all employees free rein to live out company values and spend working hours on voluntary work, making a difference for society.

"This event is a good way to utilise time, get people working together and involve the local community in a project that benefits the community as a whole," explains Duncan Simmonds.

The new surroundings are warmly welcomed

"It's great to see what we're doing get used - immediately!" Charles Afram from Novo Nordisk in the Netherlands says with a glance at the barely finished playground, now swarming with excited children.

The school's director, Abdelkebir Benbazi is there, too. "I don't think words can express my feelings towards this action. On behalf of the children and the school I would like to thank everybody who has been part of this," says the school director, and adds: "The smiles you've put on the kids' faces are priceless."