Celebrating the end of Ramadan in a rural village and planning the future of Tassa Ouirgane.
Today was the Eid, the celebration signalling the end of Ramadan, so that means no more fasting! In the morning I went and observed the prayer from a distance, because I didn’t want to interrupt their religious ceremony. Even from a distance this was an impressive sight: all the men of the village had gathered in open air to pray, asking Allah to bring them fortune and prosperity in the future. For this occasion they were all dressed in white robes, making them very easy to spot against the reddish background of the mountains. After the prayer had finished, everyone made their way back to their homes and families for a day of feasting with loved ones. Back in my home the breakfast-table was a clear reflection of this celebratory state: special sweets, pancakes, honey and other treats were shared with the extended family dropping by during the course of the day.
Seeing how the Eid called everyone back to their families and their childhood homes, the douars in the valley were filled with young people who had migrated to the big cities in search of employment. Earlier that morning I had run into a new contact that could speak both English and French named Hafid. He normally worked in Marrakech for a travel agency, but he had also come back to his parental home in order to spend the feast with his family. He helped me in calling together the men from the association of Tassa Ouirgane in order for us to go over the project that was about to start.
Whereas I thought this would be a casual, informal get together, the room soon filled up with about half of the men from the village. During the meeting Si Mohammed, the president of the organisation, and several other members voiced concerns regarding the nursery-component of the project. While they were still enthusiastic about the gabions, solar pump, well and basin, they feared the nursery would miss its intended effect in the valley.
Seeing how the goal of the High Atlas Foundation is to support communities in their self-development, it will never go through with a project that does not enjoy the full support of the local population. The Participatory Approach was used to help the community form the idea of installing a nursery, but needs can change over time and projects can be adapted. We agreed to set up a new community meeting. This way, a solution will be found that enjoys full community support and can bring about lasting change.
Meeting with the association for the development of Tassa Ouirgane.
When concluding our get together, the trademark Moroccan hospitality immediately reared his head and I was invited to share a meal with the people from the organisation. Seeing how it was still the Eid, the town was bursting with young people that I had never seen before and with who I could communicate in French and English. Some of them were very busy printing diplomas for the soccer tournament they had organised for the children of the valley, which would be handed out during celebrations the next few days. Others were telling me about their jobs, ranging from a call centre to work as a bodyguard for a Polish prince. After a delicious tajine and interesting conversations, I headed home, exhausted but satisfied after a productive day in the valley.