Saturday, May 15, 2010

A healthy crowd.

Atika taking questions from curious girls.
Can I just mention again (and it won't be for the last time) how PROUD I am of my students at the nedi neswi (women's center)? The young ladies who accompanied me to last month's training workshop have almost literally leapt at the chance to share what they learned with other women in our village.

This week we arranged for our new friend Atika, a volunteer with Association Marocain de Planification Familale, to visit our village for a public session on women's health, covering the menstrual cycle, birth control options, SIDA and STIs, breast cancer awareness and more.

To accommodate a hoped-for crowd, we used the gathering room at the dar chebab. I knew about 20 women from the nedi would show up, and I would have been happy with that number. At the appointed time, we had a solid handful of ladies on hand. Half an hour later, a darned good crowd.

But they kept coming ... and coming ... and coming. I lost count, honestly, at 120 ~ and for any event in our town, that's an amazing crowd. I'd be surprised if a televised World Cup match this summer brings a crowd of that size. We were fairly evenly divided between late teens/early 20s and middle age. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to know that these women were genuinely interested in the topic; got facts they may never have known before, at least not in such concrete terms; and would be sharing that information with still more girls and women.

Between Atika giving the presentation, and Malika, Fatima and Fatna from the nedi making most of the arrangements (not to mention the cakes and tea for post-presentation), I really didn't do a thing but set out more chairs, rush to find a microphone as the crowd noise began to exceed Atika's vocal skills, and keep toddlers from running amok.

Showing contraceptive pill samples, with concrete information on how they work and how to obtain them.
Atika's PowerPoint presentation is comprehensive and factual.

Walking around town with Fatna and Malika a few days before the event, placing fliers at the schools, post office and local stores, handing them out to schoolgirls and encouraging them to share the information with women who can't read, I was amazed by the transformation I can see in these two 20-something women. When I started visiting the nedi, they were eager to meet me but shy, giggling into their hands, eyes cast downward. Here they were striding into the principal's office, at a school they'd left before graduating, talking knowledgeably and confidently about the information we hoped to provide, discussing possibilities for future sessions in the schools (the public schools! Can you imagine that back home?).

Not only that, but after a long sweaty afternoon traipsing around town, they brought me to a little hole-in-the wall restaurant I hadn't known existed (if a bench, two plastic tables and an elderly man behind a grill counts as a restaurant), ordered me a fish sandwich with hot sauce and an ice-cold Coca Cola, and wouldn't even hear of me paying.

All I did was help them gain some new information and make connections with people who have that information. They've taken things from there. Needed my fellow volunteer Vish to remind me that, in fact, that's the point of my being here ~ not to do the work for them, but to give them the skills to do it themselves.

Taking pictures via cell phone for future reference.
My job was pretty much limited to child care, including playing with this little zwina.

Here is my first successful attempt at uploading a video. It' s not much, but you get to see Fatna's lovely dimpled smile and hear her introduce me, followed by titters and head-turning:

5 comments:

william lauer said...

I'm proud of you Rebecca. I am not surprised with your success.

Do you have any statistics on breast cancer incidence in Morocco versus the U.S.?

Melissa said...

Wow!Wow!Wow!Wow!Wow!Wow! A stunning display of how powerful a thing knowledge is. Equally stunning are your mad skills, Miz B.

Boujmaa said...

I was just surfing the net and I came accross your blog which shows me my home village where I grew up. Thank you for the work you are doing there. I am in Sebt Gerdane right now for vacation and I have some my son kids dvds like Nemo, dumbo, Alladin and some disney princesses. If you like, I can make copies. They do have french, spanish and english audio with subtitles. Let me know if that would be ok for your Dar chabab library.

B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boujmaa said...

Sorry, I thought you will be able to see my email from my post. I used my gmail account to post in your blog. You can reach me at boujmaa at gmail nokta com. This is just to avoid spam engines. If not, I will try to make it to Dar chabab on Friday. Skype: raub19