Monday, October 23, 2006


(Hi! Elisa & Jenna here. Sharon wrote these entries on October 6th & 7th, and we are posting them for her.)

Meeting the artisans - TimHdit (which, by the way, I've come to think of as Brigadoon) has weavers who are in the process of forming a cooperative, with the help of the current Peace Corps volunteer. We met with them to use our PACA tools. At first it was tough for us to explain why they should do this, but as we got into each exercise they were animated and more than willing to share information and maybe - just maybe - they thought the tools were valuable and a good way to look at their business. Note - all of this is just to give you an idea; our report and presentation were more detailed. This is from CBT Phase I.

We did the community mapping in the roof, so that the artisans could point at buildings as they described them. Of most importance to them were their houses (where they work), the schools, the mosque, the hammam, the souq, and the ___. It was interested getting their perspective.

Daily activities for the women consist of getting up at 5:00 AM and starting breakfast. At 7:00 they get the kids fed and ready and take them to school. They then work on the looms (10:00 prayer), until it's time to prepare lunch. T he kids and husband come home fro lunch at 12:30 until about 2:00. Then it's back to the loom, with a mid-afternoon break to pray, visit, or have tea or a snack, until 5:00 or 6:00. The kids come home and play (note - there are no toys) or watch TV. Dinner is prepared from 6:00 until 8:00 (sunset prayer) and then eaten (during dinner preparation time the men are often at a cafe). Dinner, more TV for the kids, and back to the loom until 11:00 PM, when it's time for bed.

The seasonal calendar in TimHdit doesn't vary much - in other regions there is agriculture so there may be time off for planting or harvesting. In all places, summer is a time for travel or for Moroccans to visit family and is also the wedding season. It's the season where the artisans make the most money, which they use to buy raw materials and wood for winter. Ramadan also significantly affects the schedule - working people stay up later to eat at night and may sleep later or start earlier.

Needs assessment/priority ranking was and is my favorite PACA tool. After pairing off each need, the artisans found that their greatest need was for looms, followed by a building for their cooperative; they've been promised both of these. They then wished for a better hospital, followed by a high school in town. Other needs included raw materials readily available, winter transport, wood, and, further down the list than we Americans might have placed it but at least on the list, trash removal.

It was interesting to note that several of the women in the cooperative are divorced; while not uncommon in Morocco it was unexpected (for us) in this small town. These women are hard-working ambitious, motivated and talented. They're off to a good start as a cooperative but there's still a lot to do.

I'll talk briefly about child care. Children are often carried on their mother's backs (how they tie those scarves so the children don't fall out is a marvel to me) so they are with the mother a lot of the time. But there doesn't seem to be a lot of interaction. Children are around but are left to play on their own or to watch TV. Someone catches them before they climb out a window or play with a knife, but that's about it. I haven't seen any toys or games of dolls. At about age six, girls are expected to help with the chores. That's about the age they go to school, too - learning Arabic and French, by rote I believe. Children are usually in Western wear - actually, I haven't seen one who isn't. I haven't seen any books for them to read or look at. There's no notion of early childhood development or child care. No wonder Si-Mohammed was thrilled to play cards- a break from TV, an adult who was paying attention to him!

Similarly, there is no notion of pet care as we know it, though people do keep animals. They are fed table scraps. My family got a dog while I was here and I had to request a bowl for water for it. Dogs are chained up, to serve as watchdogs (or, more accurately, barking deterrents). When I asked some of the Peace Corps staff whether I could ask to take it for a walk so it could get some exercise, they advised against it. It just isn't done here. I guess they're better off than the roving dogs and cats that have to forage and are ubiquitous, but I worry about poor little Muzun (his name means "Sequin") - not that I’m not worried about all the kids in TimHdit....

Actually, with animals (or compost) getting the food waste, the trash that litters public spaces isn't all that unsanitary. It's mostly plastic bags and bottles. I haven't seen a trash can in my host family home and I don't know what they do with trash - I've taken mine to the LCF house of back to Azrou.

Again, a picture that doesn't have to do with the post but I am adding them all at of the women in the cooperative wove her husband's name (along with "dear") into the rug.

Kenny Rogers is having a big postseason.
So, apparently, are the Bears - and I just read that Princeton is nationally ranked! I guess there's never a good time to go away!
I just noticed that you received the October entries before the September ones. They were meant to be not-time-sensitive but I didn't expect that, so I am not sure they make sense, but I am glad they are dated!
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