After a protracted search I found two donkeys that, while not exactly willing, were certainly able to pull the cart. We set out early in the morning under a bright blue sky. I was very excited about finally going out in our mobile unit. Unfortunately, after about 5 minutes our donkeys sat down. Adil, our driver joked that up to that day our donkeys had lead a life of leisure, grazing lazily on prickly pears and grass at Dar al-Ma’mûn.
So there we were— stuck on a deserted road under a hot sun with the minutes ticking away. I would be leaving Morocco the next day and so this was my last opportunity to take out the cart. I was beginning to get discouraged when a very tall elderly man dressed in white robes walked out of the field. He was yelling a new phrase at the donkeys.
They were unimpressed.
Then another man came over and another and a group of young boys and a few others. Everyone was yelling something different at the donkeys, brushing them with reeds, coaxing them with apples. The street was now full of people all yelling at the donkeys. The donkeys remained decidedly unimpressed and worst of all seated.
It was clear that we would have to push.
Luckily, with nearly 20 people to help it would be no problem. With half of us at the back poised to push and the other half of us at the front poised to pull the donkeys suddenly stood up. We plodded slowly into the center of the nearby village of Tassoulante.
There was a man selling housewares out of a truck in the clearing. He gave us a curious smile. Then another man came over. “What is this? What are you doing?” I explained that we were in the village because the U.S. has problems and we need help. Within minutes the cart was surrounded with people.
Once again the conversation was exuberant with people taking the microphone to give their advice, interrupting others to add clarifications. It was important that I understand just what was being suggested. One young man in particular gave me an especially considered, rather philosophical solution to the problem of not caring about others. He said, “Being able to ignore people and not care about them is a problem of privilege. If you feel you have everything then you may think that you don´t need to care about anybody. But everybody needs something. If you need something then you can ask a friend and then when they need something they will feel that they can ask you.” “So what you are saying is that we have to get in touch with our needs,” I asked. “Yes, if you get in touch with what you need then you will see that you do need people. This is how you can start to care about others,” he said.
I was impressed and humbled by the incredible generosity of the Moroccan people. They took time to consider our issues and responded with earnest thoughtful advice. I left the next morning glad that I would soon be back with my husband and my young son but also just a little bit sad to be leaving the company of such kind people.