Friday, May 15, 2009


OK, for my version of harassment and respect....

When PCVs are asked about harassment in Morocco, the most common incidences are those directed to young women, ie; being called gazelle, being followed closely or touched, etc. Not my issue. This week highlighted for me a different type of harassment in the form of disrespect. Metalan (for example):

Mina (staff from Rabat-came out for site visit and Beni Mkoud workshop) and I check in w/the REK gendarmes. She is after all, Safety and Security Mina. Waxa. Now, I’ll bet I take the prize for keeping my gendarmes dima (always) informed when I’m out of my site. So, we go to talk w/the chief. He brings up the time he was trying to get a document from me (when I was stopped in the middle of the street by the chief of police, yelled at in Arabic, gathered a crowd, and didn’t know what the he** he was talking about. Figured it out later and brought him a document that satisfied him)-a situation that had really pissed me off at the time-being yelled at in Arabic and not given time to ask questions or respond in the middle of town. Anyway, we have to re-live this w/Mina. Yipee. Then he tells her what a “good job” I’m doing. Like I care what he thinks. We’ve been told by Zahra (Pres of the Coop) that the chief comes by the Coop every time I’m out of town to ask her where I am. OK, I always inform Zahra as well. So why is he asking-he knows the answer. Mina asks him this and he has no explanation. Then he turns to me and asks where I’m living. Shnu? Elesh katswlni? Efrti! (What? Why are you asking? You know where!). I’ve had enough. Maxssnish had munaqasa, slama (I don’t need this conversation, goodbye). I walked out. Pissed. Why is he being such a bast***? I respect his rules and keep him informed. I’ve even added an English class at the Dar Chebab for HIS kids. And what do I get? Harassed for nothing. Disrespect. Give me a freaking break.

Then I make my way to Sefrou today to meet w/the guy who’s contracted to develop the Regional Artisana Website and give him the input for Taeawniya Adwal’s page on the site. The “vice mundub”-don’t know his title-is there. Calls me by the name he wants me to respond to. (Not unusual for PCVs to take on Moroccan names. I haven’t. I like Lynn and it’s easy to pronounce. He knows this but thinks I should change it. He’s the only person who does this). Waxa. He pulls up a chair as we start the meeting and tells the website guy which products to put on the Adwal page. And of course he's talking to the consultant, won't look at me, as though I won't understand him anyway. Excuse me? Not his decision. I’ve discussed it with the Coop women and here’s what we want. He goes off on me and as I am responding in Arabic, it’s not fast enough for him and he tells me my Arabic isn’t good. He does this every time I see him. Dima. Every time. The consultant tells me “it’s no big deal-he teases everyone”. I tell him if someone teases you about the same thing every time you see them, it’s not humor, it’s harassment. I try to show him respect by speaking in his language, and this is what I get. Move on.

Then I make my way over to the cyber in Sefrou where I printed out a bunch of stuff last week...and where I left my 8gb USB thumb drive. So now I’m back a full week later-what are the odds it’s still there, yak? It’s there. Ham-du-li-lah. Reminder to not stereotype Moroccans from the experiences with one or two. The same woman is working at the cyber, remembers me and hands over my USB. Shukran.

OK, so thanks for letting me get that off my chest.....Because it’s in the way of sharing the best and most important news of the week....

The order from the US e-commerce business came thru for Taeawniya Adwal. (The one I contacted thru internet and met w/when in Seattle). Ham-du-li-lah! 40 table runners, 2 mtr x ½ mtr in wool w/classic Middle Atlas design and muzun (sequins). This is their first export order, so we’ve got a lot of work to do to make it work. Metalan (for example):payment. There’s no such thing as online payment, Paypal, etc. in Morocco. Have to do bank-to-bank or Western Union cash transfer. OK, so bank is easiest for US company, but the Adwal women can’t access it in REK-have to go to Sefrou (there’s no bank in REK). So we’re gonna try Western Union. It’s scary simple-the US business can send flus (money) online and the women pick up the payment at the Post Office. OK, so what does it take to export? Don’t know, need to check w/the Delegate in Sefrou (he wasn’t in today).Then there’s shipping. This is made easier ‘cuz the US company has a FedEx account, so we can get the product to FedEx and all the shipping will be taken care of. Oops, mushkil. Closest FedEx office is in Casablanca-6 hours away! I’m going to Rabat next week and will try to also go to Casa and check this out. It will be a learning experience for all of us.

OK, so the first priority of Taeawniya Adwal and the Delegate for me was to find markets for their products. Check. Now I wish they’d stop bugging me about how to get to the Santa Fe International Craft Fair that a woman from Sefrou is going to. What have they done to explore this? Nothing. Waxa. You wanna go, ask her some questions for starters.

Meanwhile, while in Fes today I’ve checked out printing prices for the business cards and brochures that are ready to print in English and Arabic. French translations are on the way. Will give the info and files to the Coop on the thumb drive I bought them and offer to accompany them to Fes to get the printing done, but it will be in their hands to make it happen. Sustainability, yak?

I’ll let you know when the Sefrou Regional Artisana website is up and when the US e-commerce business has their Morocco offering in place.

Sing it for me Aretha....r e s p e c t...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are woman...W...O...M...A...N...Say it again!
kk :o)