The purpose behind my idea to have monthly or quarterly meetings for the women of REK is to provide them with information to take responsibility for themselves. What they do with this information is up to them. I want them to be in a position of knowledge-based choice. I am encouraged by the response I’ve received from the women I’ve talked with in REK about this idea so far.
So I’m all excited, and a bit nervous about the reception I’ll get in Sefrou on Friday asking MDs if they’ll come to REK “fabor” (free) to talk w/the women about the prevention and detection of breast and cervical cancer. I’ve got my plan all in place, a letter written from the coop to introduce me and our idea and my translator friend to help w/the meetings.
Oops, she’s late-better call to find out if she’s on her way. Sounds upset-something about a problem w/her husband-can I come to her family home? Uh, sure. OK-this is the hard part, as I want to protect her anonymity while sharing the truth. She left her husband w/her 2 children and the clothes on her back after he hit her and threw furniture and dishes at her. This is not the first time, and she knows if she goes back, it will happen again, but she’s terrified.
He forbids her to work anywhere there are men (mind you she used to tutor men all the time). When he found out she was coming to work w/me, he forbade her from working at all outside the house. What benefit was there to him? Turns out she’s stopped turning over the little money she makes tutoring to him because he spends it on hashish and wine. What to do? She’s intelligent, speaks excellent English, has 2 small children and is scared to death.
Others ask her why doesn’t she just obey her husband? I tell her that doesn’t give him the right to hit her. She’s worried that her father won’t support her, as she’s not told him about the previous incidents. I leave as her father comes home from work so she can fill him in. I give her 50DH to put minutes on her portable (cell phone-you buy cards to pay in advance) to keep in touch with her.
Good news-she’s still at her parents’ house on Saturday-that means she’s standing her ground. I’ve come in town for the first meeting of the SefFest Assn-newly formed Assn to support Contemporary Art in Sefrou-brainchild of our mutual friend Jess. Our friend is secty of the Assn, but her husband told her if she came to the meeting, he’d see her and beat her up in front of everyone. She came to the meeting. Her husband doesn’t show (Hamdullah), and it’s great for her-she’s up front in a meeting with about 50 members of her community and she’s actively involved. Just what she needs (as well as all the support we can give her).
I’m coming back in town tomorrow-will pay her for a day of translating, as I still need to get to the MDs to get them to come to REK, and set up a meeting w/my Delegate at the Artisana to share my 3 mo Action Plan with him. This gives me a chance to employ her as well.
The irony-want to empower women and the one helping me is in greatest need Inshallah there is enough work to keep her going and away from her husband.
And now I must end on the saddest note of all. There is a new star in the northern sky. It shines so bright, you can read by its light. My beloved Aunt Geri passed away yesterday.