Yes, yet another town. Here for a week to help with the 2nd training session of the 1st year SBD PCVs (that’s Small Business Development Peace Corps Volunteers). But first, it was a productive 1 ½ days in REK between Chefchaouen and Azrou.
Had a chance to sit down with Meriem to discuss both the WIT program and cheese workshops. She and the women who are forming a new "Women's Association" are interested in moving forward with the WIT opportunity and I've given them contact info to speak with both the Country Manager for WIT Morocco and the President of the Azrou Assn who has been running the program for some time. They’ll be able to address more questions and provide a lot better information than I can at this point.
We then moved on to the cheese workshop which Lisa has agreed to come out and conduct for the milk coop. (Meriem is acting as the liason between the coop and me). I think this could be a nice opportunity for them, and Cynthia has a cost benefit analysis tool to help them determine if it’s economically feasible to pursue as a business once they see the yields. Inshallah.
Had a chance to photo-document the demolition of the space next door to the Coop’s workshop for the renovation into a new showroom. It’s finally happening-good thing, since the Delegate has already announce that there will be a party in April to celebrate its grand opening!
Found out from Ferida and Nora that they’ve started the computer classes-great to hear it's going.
Then Tuesday morning I did the next in the series of Business Workshops with the Adwal women-this one on competition. I figured it would take about 45 minutes tops. Fortunately Fatima reminded me that Meriem wanted to sit in on the workshops so I gave her a call to come and join us. I’m so glad she did, as she really added a lot to a very active discussion that lasted 2 hours. The women really engaged in defining who their competition really is-not just other local weavers, and the importance of targeting their customer to help them define their competition and what they need to do to be unique. One of the most productive discussions I’ve had with the women. Helped w/both Fatima and Meriem’s support and my ability to engage in Darija. Hamdullah.
Then it was off to Azrou-only about 120 km, but 4 hours travel with 4 different transits-to the zwin Hotel Panorama. This “stage” of PCVs stayed in a pretty shwiya place for their initial training, so I think PC is making up for it with this much nicer place. Again, all is relative, but nice to have towels, soap, hot showers and central heating in a hotel. (Remember, we usually stay in hostels for about $7 per night and you do get what you pay – or not –for).
These PCV are here for 2 weeks of training (a different model that we had), so PC has brought a bunch of us “2nd year” PCVs in to share our experiences and facilitate workshops. I ran several yesterday on Marketing and today Joy and Emily ran Product Development workshops. It’s a great chance to get to know the new PCVs and what their skill sets and experience is to tap into in the future. More workshops this afternoon and tomorrow.
I’m staying over the weekend here instead of travelling home on Sat morning and back on Sunday afternoon, since I have to be back here on Monday and Thursday of next week. That means that tomorrow Cynthia and I will go over to Ain Leuh (where I did my CBT training) and I can see my host family, how Khadija is doing with the carpet I’ve ordered from her, and the work that Randy has initiated for the renovation of their workshop and showroom. Then Sunday I can just go up to Fes for the day and meet with Jess on the International Women’s Day project. I’m supposed to be putting together a blog for that and need to get on it….maybe this afternoon during the “Working with Counterparts” session.