Happy May 1, everyone!
Today is actually Labor Day in Morocco, where most people have the day off work and there are marches and other events. I’m not sure if there are any events specifically in T–, but Peace Corps advises us to avoid large gatherings where tensions might be running high for security reasons, so even if there was, I probably wouldn’t go. Kids have off from school, so I’m not sure what the host family’s plans are for the day, but Liz and I are planning to plan.
Work, as everyone told us it would be, is slow to start. Monday we had planned to go to the local women’s club, where we have been asked to teach English lessons, to do some preliminary language assessments with the ladies, but we were the only ones who showed up. We’re hoping for a redo this coming Monday.
This weekend, however, we have some big events coming up.
At the Dar Chebab, we are planning to do our initial community assessment activities – basically meeting the kids and finding out what is important to them. We have the time set up, the room reserved, an awesome counterpart to come help us and an invitation out to all our Spring Camp kids. We still need to secure some supplies, mostly large sheets of paper, which I am hoping will be easily found somewhere within the city on a day when everything isn’t closed.
Sunday will also be a big day for us. We’ve made contact with a local group called Association de Lutte Contre le SIDA, SIDA being the French acronym for AIDS. This group is super active locally in raising awareness about AIDS/HIV, providing education to specific groups of at-risk people, particularly migratory workers, prostitutes and those who already have HIV or AIDS. The group is actually able to help provide free AIDS testing and medications for those who have been diagnosed. We’re really excited to be working with them and our first activity is going to help out with a project they are doing at a rural elementary school, raising awareness and playing games with the kids. I will definitely update you as to how it goes and what other activities we get involved with.
Our other big news is that we have also started working at a program called ACCESS, which is run through the American embassy in Morocco and is a supplementary English education program for kids in middle school and high school. Last Sunday we went to our first meeting with them and are looking forward to going back. Each Sunday, the kids involved in the program get two hours of English class, followed by two hours of supplementary cultural activities. Mostly they want our help with the cultural activities, so in two Sundays we’re teaching them how to play kickball, one of my personal favorite American games.
Things are moving slowly, but there is still movement. Our Dar Chebab director, who has been out of the country to attend a training, is returning next week and after that we hope to be able to set up a more regular schedule.
Although it was hot for about a week, like in the 90s, the weather has cooled back off to the 70s and it is lovely and makes everything much more pleasant.
Liz and I have paid our first month’s rent and although our apartment is still having some work done to it, we’re hoping to be able to move in this weekend, if all goes well. Then we have a bunch of safety and security forms to fill out for Peace Corps, not to mention completing our residency paperwork. We tried to go complete everything yesterday, but were told it wasn’t ready yet. We’re due to go back on Friday. Patience is key.