After a busy morning putting the finishing touches on the lounging area of the cart and searching for a suitable pair of donkeys to pull le chariot, it was time to meet with the next Moroccan think tank. Joudia, Sara, Samya and I set out on foot down a dry and dusty footpath lined with Opuntia covered in prickly pears. We were to meet with a women´s literacy class in the neighboring village in Akara . We arrived in the empty classroom and sat down to wait for the students. One by one the women came in, greeting each of us with a kiss on each cheek. Joudia, a native of the village, and translator at Dar al-Ma’mûn, presented the problems to the women, interpreting them from the Arabic into the specific dialect of Berber-Arabic spoken in the village. Instantly, the group of 25 students erupted into discussion, vying for the microphone, interrupting each other to clarify and add to suggestions. One woman took me by the hand when the microphone was in use by someone else and explained to me with a great urgency that the racist father in law must be made to understand his position of influence in the family. That it would not be useful to simply contradict him. That this is a man who needs education about his role in the home. And so his family must teach him to understand the enormous responsibility he has, that he must consider what is correct and good and must choose his words well because people will listen to him. At one point someone tried to interrupt her saying, “She doesn’t speak Arabic.” To which she responded by pulling me closer and speaking more loudly. There was such an outpouring of energy and good will. And there was no lack of advice for Americans.
Here are some of the solutions I received that day:
For the old person who wants to be young:
Go back to school to learn something new. This will make you feel young again. Look at us, we are here learning and having so much fun. Who can feel old in this room?
For the empty store fronts:
If a shop doesn’t work there we just try something else. If it was a bakery then we try a cafe. If people don’t want that then we change it.
Sara said they were basically describing the practice of a pop up store.
For the person who is embarrassed to dance:
We create lots of opportunities to dance at celebrations so that children learn to dance early and so they can be comfortable.
We have group dancing so that people don’t have to do it all alone.
For the person who is unhappy:
Go on a trip, see your family, be with friends.
Learn to play a musical instrument.
For the community that lacks diversity:
People from these communities should go to visit other communities to learn about them and see what they eat, how they raise their children, how they live.
If they live in a gated community then maybe they could have people from other communities come to give and informational presentation about the way they live and what they eat, etc.
For the Racist father in law:
This man should be educated so that he understands how much influence he has and that as a father he has big role. He must think very carefully about what he says because people listen to him. He must understand all this responsibility.
For the neighbors who do not interact with each other:
These communities should have a common public space between them like
a coffee shop , a school or a mosque—one that is available to both of them so that they both can go there and meet and get to know each other,
For the person who can not find his passion:
This person needs to learn about the world. Education will help him find his passion.
For the homeless:
We don’t have homelessness here because housing is cheap and even if you
don’t have much money you will be able to afford at least a roof over your head.
Also, if someone knows someone with no place to live he will offer his home and
say “come live with me.”