This week, the High Atlas Foundation – including our project manager and coordinator, Amina, and myself – visited the Aboughlo Cooperative in Ourika. As the women who are part of the cooperative asked before, this workshop concentrated on the ability to trust. We started by asking: “Trusting who?” Each woman then raised different interactions she has on a daily basis, which force her to trust both others, but also herself. Some women emphasized the direct link between higher self-esteem and the ability to trust others and indicated that since she is working, she gained more self-esteem and self-appreciation. We continued discussing the different relationships we have in our lives, from our families, partners, children,colleagues, the seller in our grocery shop, etc.
We continued with a game: women set on chairs in a circle, laying on one another, assisting one another not to fall down. Slowly we took out one chair after another, making it difficult for the women to keep relying on one another… through the game, we could discuss the ability of each cooperative member to trust her friends, and lean on them whenever they need, whenever it becomes difficult.
At the end of the workshop, I asked the women about their first motivation to join the establishment of the cooperative. Furthermore, I asked what made them trust Amina from the beginning. The answers I received were diverse; however, all were directly linked to their ability to gain more independence in their lives. Some indicated that when Amina first came to their village, to discuss the option of doing a shared project, (at first they did not even discuss the establishment of a cooperative), the fact she involved them in the process from its beginning, contributed to their trust in her. One lady shared that when they decided to establish the cooperative, each had to contribute ten dirham, namely they had to trust both the idea of their project, and their partners (women from different villages, some of whom they met for the first time at the beginning of the project), and prove their trust by paying money. For some it was very difficult; however, today they have no regrets. Even though they felt that trust is an ability they should strengthen or learn, during our discussion, some noted that trust was something they started building from the very first minute of their project. It existed, but sometimes it was difficult for them to notice it.
It was amazing to see the personal and communal responsibility these women have to their project. Many of them shared that driven to being part of the cooperative, they gained additional skills and abilities. Self-confidence was the first on the list, alongside with financial, technical, and social skills, and the ability to raise one’s voice to speak. They indicated that all these opened the gate for them to be much more influential in each of their communities.
And as always, we could trust the women of the Aboughlo Cooperative that food and lovely hospitality will be included in the experience.