Through our community based training in Oulad Arabia.
Half our school day is language study, the other half community involvement. Our group ( seven plus instructor ) has visited the local madrassa, pre-primary and elementary schools, local health clinic ( sbitar ), local police authorities, weekly souk or market where we buy fresh food for our lunch at the Peace Corps school house.
The souk involves bargaining for food, we never pay the first quoted price. This negotiating is in Moroccan Arabic, Darija, just to make it more interesting. Most of this travel is done by foot, this can take an hour or more for some locations. We try to engage local people we meet about community needs, again anther challenge. Our training group is a good group we all seemed to get along. We gave a power point presentation on the status of our community to the rest of our incoming Health volunteers in Ouarzazate a few days ago. Each training group gives a similar presentation for their respective community.
Our host family all eleven of are a lot of fun, they push us in language skills at breakfast and at the evening meal. Mary ran an impromptu blood pressure clinic one night before dinner and found one member of the family with high blood pressure. This woman visited the clinic the next day and she was given medication for her condition.
We are doing WAHA (OK) Mary is getting use to the Coleman showers, the Turkish toilets and the scrub board to do the weekly washing the clothes. Gerry cannot do the laundry. There are certain chores that only woman can do and men do others. Time is spent greeting each other and having tea a lot and talking and in evening our family has a TV they watch music performances but not very much. I did ask to see BBC station to hear what was going on in USA. You do need to ask yourself what day it is and where you are at times. The language is so hard but gestures do really help. We are going 7 days a week, studying and engaging in seeing what the community and what the nearest town has for services and what needs the people have.
Transportation is lacking for a lot of people. There is no trash pick up or recycle in this community, people burn or bury their trash. You never see a paper napkin or any paper products. For 13 people to feed you see only a handful of dishes. The Xobz (Bread) which is your eating utensils. Occasionally you are given a large spoon for pasta and couscous and we do have a lot of tagine dishes as well.
We have been well except for colds which have passed. Thanks to all for your nice emails. We are in such a rural area we need to travel to a bigger location to get internet service. So we can only write every few weeks. Thanks neighbors for watching out for Wally.
Hope spring is present. Our weather is getting warmer.slightly, just a sweater to wear now. Judy I am thinking of you . I wore the green blouse that Susan and you picked out in Sears at Land’s End and everybody even the guys said they liked it. I miss my boys and of course my sister and brothers too. I hope they miss me too. I hear that MALI the dog is doing well. And Gerry and I say hello to all of you and thank you for your emails. Well, back to studying and off to the souk tomorrow to send this letter.
Love to all,
Mary & Gerry
PS Included a picture of a local Kasbah which also is on the Moroccan 50 Durham note, worth about $6+. We still do not have a post office box that should be available when we reach our final site. Sometime in May we will be assigned a work site, after we finish our initial training in Oulad Arabia.