Sunday, May 9, 2010

OPALS at the dar chebab.

Waiting their turn.
Few weeks back, the director of my dar chebab casually mentioned that I should come by the next morning (I don't usually work until late afternoon, when kids start getting out of school) because "women will be here."

OK. I came ~ and was shocked to find the courtyard filled with at one point perhaps 50 women, all waiting to see "the doctor."

OPALS' traveling clinic.

The "doctor" was OPALS ~ one of two major organizations in Morocco that work to combat SIDA (AIDS). They were offering free HIV tests. That's all. I never could get a handle on whether the women realized that and were smart/brave enough to come for the tests, or whether they were hoping to have various ailments treated. I sat with the waiting women, several of whom mentioned having high blood pressure, or rheumatism, or other miscellaneous aches and pains. Were they disappointed? Offended? They didn't seem so.

Late into the afternoon, long after the OPALS truck was gone and I was trying to teach various levels of English in one chaotic classroom, the women kept coming, poking their head in the door to ask where the doctors were. My conspiracy-laden mind started to wander, and wonder: Were the women lured in with promises to be treated by a doctor ... or were they smart enough to *pretend* they had come for other purposes, so they wouldn't feel ashamed to be getting an HIV test? Or am I looking for issues where none exist, and they're simply smart and educated enough to know that everyone should be tested, on a regular basis?

Either way, they got tested, and that's a good thing.

With my new friend Aicha and her little girl, Hajar.
And my other new friend, also conveniently named Aicha.

Getting pulled into the "group picture"

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