Chocolate-Covered Broccoli

Written by: Elghali – CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteer
Date: November 20, 2014

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  I have joined CorpsAfrica few weeks ago now with a clear conscious, huge motivation and excitements, in order to make a change in my life and around me. I remember my first meeting with Liz and CorpsAfrica volunteers, I was under an excellent shock due to the warm welcoming to the sport center in Casablanca and the variety of languages and dialects used among the group, yet, soon I noticed we bounded despite of our differences. I have had a tough time during the first two weeks due to the group dynamics but soon staff members draw some new lines that advocate excellent professional attitude. I believe that was the only massive challenge for me, yet, we have openly and clearly drawn a mental picture of each and every member in order to build a better understanding.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI remember one time Liz told me “You are not an easy person to deal with.” I was a little hurt because she was right, and since then I was sure that I am a bit different from the rest of the group and I need to embrace life with a sense of flexibility and humbleness. With no doubt, the training has been an eye opener on many orientations and at several levels. From morning meetings with brilliant NGOs like Injaz, Women Win, Anou, to the interesting week workshops of design thinking, I can say that I have learned so many techniques to come up with a project and was inspired by those great leaders who took the time and come to share almost the same message that Morocco is a great country full of remarkable environmental and human potentials and like them we can and will make a difference in our life and so in our community.

The training was also a unique opportunity for all of us to discover the horizon of agriculture and meet with some fascinating farmers whom showed us some basic skills in farming as well as some techniques of irrigation. In fact, the farming chapter is one of the parts of our training that personally found difficult due to the long trip we drove everyday and work conditions but it was very informative.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBeing at the valley above Asni is a requirement for every Moroccan to visit due to the other hemisphere of the country that I had previously ignored, but definitely worth the 3 hours and a half walk to reach out to our git. Once I had the chance to meet locals I easily submerged into a total different language and slightly new life style. Once there, I disconnected with the Web 2.0 and connected with our mother nature and old father time.

Throughout the training, I kept asking myself how can I face the unexpected or at least be ready for the unknown but, guess what?  The experience would not be interesting or enjoyable if the path was already drawn, in a way life is the biggest mystery. Tomorrow, I will be in my site and so my journey begins. I am soooo happy!! In my eyes, Liz, Colleen, and Omar have done so far for me so to make my CorpsAfrica experience a pleasant journey.

….And Life Goes On

Written by: Abdelaziz – CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteer

Date: November 20, 2014

Here I am in the gate to my destiny. Here I am on the best road to serve my Moroccan brothers and sisters. It is a crucial moment to start the adventure. It is my turn to do the best I can in order to help others. Five weeks of training, learning, applying, interacting, intervening, practicing were very exciting and interesting to have sufficient view about my next mission.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe training program started on October 12th, 2014 to November 17th, 2014 (swearing day). It was great a period and memorable moments with young volunteers from different regions and backgrounds. The training took us around many places doing various tasks. The first two weeks were in Casablanca, having meeting with various associations and organization which represented diverse sectors from different perspectives and interests.

IMG_0566After that, we had a one-week training in Sidi Moumen Cultural Center. Our Sidi Moumen experience was special and unforgettable. We had the opportunity to visit some families in Sidi Moumen shantytown and others in their new apartments. We tried to gain their trust so as to hear from them as much as possible about their needs, feelings, desires, interests, and concerns. It was a very sensitive moments with the shantytown and apartments residences in which they described their hard life away from many vital services such as cleanness, security, and transportation.

Many interviewees declared that the cultural centre had a positive impact on lives. One youth we interviewed, Soufian, said, “I used to be shy, isolated. I did not have any friends for three years because of family problems. Today, and because of the center, I can speak loud, I have many friends inside and outside this building. I owe my possible to this center’’. Soufian was an example of one of many beneficiaries of the center. Most of them agreed that the center had a great impact on their lives.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe third week of training led us to a special space of nature and beauty. It was a great experience to hike with a group of people crossing mountains, valley, and douars (small villages). We visited Azzaden valley near Toubkal mountain and we spent our nights in Tezzian douar. We applied design thinking using what we learned with Mr. Garrett (Design-Thinking Expert) and the help of Miss Colleen (Our Volunteer Support Specialist).

We came up with three brilliant ideas or project ideas which tackle different domains:

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEnvironment (collecting trash and rising awareness about the
    negative impacts of it on human and animal life).
  • The second project was about creating way to help primary students in their studies by building or rebuilding a classroom in which they will have appropriate space to do some activities and get some extra courses.
  • The third project or idea was about organizing a tourism training to lodging of stage (gite d’étape) owners and employees. This training would enrich and renew their skills and understanding about various tourism services.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter our time in the mountains, we spent the week after in Marrakech we did farming in with peasants in Sidi Ghiyat – right outside of Marrakech on the road to Ait Ourir. I discovered how the drip irrigation (irrigation de goutte à goutte) works in the field. I got a lot of information about various plants and for the first time I drove tractor. It was a great special experience in which I learned and apply many crucial things.

During the same week we meet with the responsible of the Green Morocco Program who present to us an interesting presentation about the sector of agriculture in the Marrakech-Tansift-Al-Haouz region. He shed light on the qualifications, challenges, and current and future programs about the region. Moreover, we had chance to visit one of the previous sites in Safi province it called Ouled Chaaib. The ex-volunteer Abdessamad from the first group of CorpsAfrica/Maroc served there for more than 10 months. We notice his positive impact on the population’s daily life through our conversation with them “Abdessamad is good man, he did his best to serve our commune’’ said Mr. Sheikh of Ouled Chaaib.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor a long time my dream was (and still is) to study in Al Akhawayne University in Ifrane (AUI). Because of CorpsAfrica training program I had chance to visit that outstanding university. I had chance to meet some active students there. I get a lot of information about the university; its staff, faculty, students, clubs, programs, facilities, even admission requirements. During our time there, we had pleasure to get some interesting presentations delivered by remarkable and famous professors about various topics even that most of those presentations were about the human development.

The next destination was Casablanca, and then Rabat where we visited Peace Corps Office. I visit the place where the Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) start their adventure and get instructions. I still remember when I asked my American friends (Tiara, Mike, Maureen, Sam, David … all PCVs I have met in my life) “Where were you last week?’’ and most the time they said “I was in PC office.’’  And now I got to see that office. We attend presentations about many interesting issues such as monitoring projects (Mr. Mustapha), Safety and Security (Ms. Fatima).

Two days after, I attend the swearing-in ceremony and officially there I become CorpsAfrica Volunteer. I will never forget those moments when the audience were silent, their eyes and ears were directed to us, and our right hands were raised in order to swear. Actually, it was the first time I had ever sworn officially to do something even I am here personally because my passion is to serve my community away from protocols and titles.

And now, here I am in Marrakech. Here I am in the red city. Here I am in the last steep to my new space. Today is Thursday November 20th, 2014. It is 7:45 pm at Toulousain Hotel. Tomorrow will be the first day, inshallah, of my new experience, in my site. I will do my best to have a positive impact on my new community. I will try to leave my fingerprint on their daily life. I will do the best I can. Thank you Allah. Thank you CorpsAfrica. Thank you dear sponsors.

 

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