Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ramadan karim.

Kabira and her new toy.

We are about a week into Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown. It is a time of extra prayer and charity, a time Kabira described to me as a test of one's dedication to the faith.

Kabira and the rest of my Moroccan family have been so good to me these past two years. Latest example: They insist I eat lftr ~ the meal breaking the fast ~ with them every evening. I know they can ill afford another mouth to feed, and there's an uproar any time I try to contribute anything more than a few dates. They've never asked me for a single thing, other than I spend time with them.

The other day, Kabira was salivating over the idea of having a pasta machine to lighten the load of making chebekia for the hanut. Chebekia, a sticky-sweet pastry drizzled with honey and sesame seeds, is a traditional part of the Moroccan lftr. Kabira has been making giant piles of it to sell at her shop ~ but the work of rolling and cutting the dough requires several people, and she's been hiring neighborhood girls to help her ~ thus eating away any potential profit.

Today, I took her shopping, and we came home with the machine. It felt so good to give something back to this family that has given me so much that I almost feel guilty ~ surely I did this more for myself than for Kabira.


More on Ramadan.

Based on the lunar calendar, Ramadan arrives 11 days earlier every year. My sympathies are with those who must refrain from even water during these sweltering weeks of deep summer. We've been unusually blessed recently with cooling rains, but the forecast shows it'll be skunna hal ~ popping back up into the 110-degree (F) range ~ again starting tomorrow.

Moroccans are Muslim by birth and are not only morally but also legally required to fast. PRI's The World had an interesting piece on Moroccans who are lobbying against laws prohibiting them from consuming food in public during Ramadan, whether they consider themselves believers or not.

Additionally, the "Inside Islam" series, produced by Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders, has a wealth of downloadable podcasts offering a better understanding of Ramadan and of Islam in general.

Counting down.

No, I haven't forgotten I have a blog. I was working at an English immersion camp up north for a couple of weeks. After that, I was busy being lazy. I'll try to do better.

But with fewer than three months now before my time here comes to an end, I suddenly find myself awash in paperwork. My description of service document describing the work I've done here. A journal to describe my life and work here for the next volunteer. A long-delayed toolkit of moudawana resources for the Gender and Development Committee to share with all volunteers. My quarterly report, due several weeks ago, actually. Oops.

And then there's the future ~ time to start putting out feelers, working contacts, trying to figure out what might come next, and where, and with whom. Ideas? Advice? Deep coffers?


faye cassell said...

I found the PRI segment to be very interesting. I think my own personal opinions towards religion probably skew my perception of the issue, but I do like that a discussion about freedom of religion is occuring in Morocco, even if it is only happening among the upper-elite of Rabat/Casa, etc.

The question of fasting by choice also came up during Session 4 of camp. We had several students who were obviously too young/small to fast and at the beginning of camp they all said they would continue eating. However, once Ramadan rolled around, almost all of them had been pressured into fasting. Maybe a few of them changed their minds on their own, but many of them were definitely pressured by other staff and other campers.

william said...

Glad you went to campt to improve your English.

Jill McNamara said...

Arizona has my vote!!

Anonymous said...

I just found another use for my pasta machine. I bought that machine here in the US because I thought that they would be horribly expensive in Morocco and want to bring it with me when I move there.