Written by: Ibrahim – CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteer
Date: April 30, 2015
After a successful month of training, we finally got to go to our assigned sites. As much as I would miss the other volunteers, I was restlessly eager to move to my new home. But before that, I had to go through the authority structure protocol. First I had to go see the Caïd (the governor of the commune) who turned out to be a cool guy and offered me a ride to my site. After we arrived to the village, the muqaddem (He is the Ministry of Interior figure that is responsible for the village. His job, as he explained it to me, is mainly to inform the authorities about everything that is happening in the village) was waiting for us. The muqaddem looked quite nervous, almost like a reckless soldier in front of his army chief. After the Caïd introduced me to the muqaddem, he reluctantly suggested that I could stay with him. Great! So far everything was going as planned.
But alas, I wish things were that simple. One of the things I learnt with CorpsAfrica/Maroc is that nothing goes according to plan. Never take the term “flexibility” for granted. After I exchanged phone numbers with the muqaddem I went back to get my backpack. When I called the muqaddem to tell him that I was coming, he told me that he went to get his cows vaccinated and that he wouldn’t be home for a couple of days. Okay, no worries, I thought. I waited two days and called him again, this time he was needed in the municipality because the king is visiting, apparently the king needs to speak specifically with the muqaddem. I didn’t know muqaddem was a VIP!!
Enough is enough, I couldn’t wait any longer. I packed my stuff and headed to my site. Once there, I wandered around the muqaddem’s house, only to find him sitting in a chair and enjoying a sebssi (a tool used to smoke weed). “Hey, I thought you were in the municipality….” I said. “Euuh, the king canceled his visit at the last minute” he replied. I thought to myself “Did he call you and told you that in person!?” Anyway, without going into too many details, the bottom line is that the muqaddem could no longer host me.
OK! Now what? I took my backpack, which at that moment felt heavier than ever, and started to wander aimlessly around the fields trying to figure out a way out of this mess. I heard the call to prayer and headed to the mosque. To my surprise, the mosque was empty, only the fqih sitting in a corner and reciting the Quran in silence. The fqih was in turn surprised to see me, or maybe he was just surprised to see someone caring enough to come to prayers. After we finished praying, I explained to the fqih what I do and told him about my situation. The fqih turned out to be a really nice guy, who was kind enough to let me stay in the mosque as long as I want.
I knew I couldn’t stay in the mosque forever, and that I eventually would have to find a permanent place. But living in the mosque was and still is a good spiritual experience: waking up at dawn for Fajr prayer and witnessing the rising sun and all the awakening energy around us energizes us as well, listening to the Fqih reciting the Quran while his seven-month-old daughter Hafsa was crawling and playing around, and to his narration for historical Islamic tales after the dinner-time prayer, which is technically bedtime for the people over here, making his tales into bedtime stories. I am glad that my journey with CorpsAfrica/Maroc started as a spiritual one. However, I sometimes don’t feel the spirituality in waking up at 5:30 in the morning.