Friday, February 26, 2010

Marche Maroc Rabat in Progress......

Started the week with a visit from Mina-Asst Program Mgr-in REK for a quick update and meeting with Zahra and Fatima. Found out that Zahra was NOT asking on Sunday for another PCV to follow me, but for me to extend my stay another year. Will have to clarify that, since my Sunday response was Inshallah, we can make the request to Peace Corps (oops!).

Then it was a gathering of Marian, Chris, Casey, Pete and me at my place for Mexican food and discussion of projects that we might work on together. Marian updated us on her plans for an Earth Day Week in Tafajight the end of April. We need to do these “regional” meetings at least quarterly.

Then it was off to Rabat. Fortunately Annie was flexible when we discovered a communication blunder-don’t know which of us had it wrong, but I thought she had booked a double room to share at the Velleda, and they were sold out. They were able to bring in a ponge and blankets, so I was comfy on the floor.

She and I met with Sandy and Heather at the American Center to continue the plans for the Marche Maroc Rabat May 7-9. They’ve been really terrific to work with, and are planning a weekend of events to help bring in people for the craft fair.

Yesterday Tariq (SBD Program Mgr) and I met with his counterpart at the Ministry of Artisana and a woman who runs the QC certification process for artisans. I’ve invited her to conduct a workshop at the Marche Maroc Rabat to help the artisans understand the new Ministry Quality standards and certification process. Thank goodness Tariq was with me, as we got a lot more than I had bargained for-in the very best sense of the phrase.

For one, Khadija will not only conduct the workshop, she’ll be available to do individual product quality consultations with the artisans, for both the Rabat Marche as well as the one that’s being done in Marrakech in April. In addition, Khalid wants to ensure that the Ministry is involved in the promotion and media exposure for both Marche Marocs. He also wants to make certain that Peace Corps is getting credit for this work that we’re doing. Since the Minister is coming to REK next week, this will be a good chance for me to put in a plug for Peace Corps’ work.

In addition, he brought up the possibility of Ministry support to build a showroom on the main road of REK (not down by the bashawiya on a dead end by the Coop building) if the Commune is willing to donate the land. This is completely different than the small showroom being built next to the Coop, and something that we definitely need to check into. Very productive and impressive support from the Ministry. Hamdullah.

Then we met with Widad from Women in Technology. She has her hands incredibly full as she works alone to ensure the sustainability of the programs she already has underway in Morocco. No word yet on whether she'll have budget to expand, but it's not looking good. Time will tell if we’re still able to tap into their resources to bring WIT to REK. Inshallah.

Also had a chance to catch up a bit w/Tariq-long enough for him to ask me if I’d consider extending my service an additional year. That’s easy. Nope. Love it here, great experience, but goin’ home as soon as I’m done. Miss family, friends and life back in the good ‘ole U S of A.

So Heather and Sandy told me about the “Girls Night Out” at the American Center last night-complete w/margaritas and Mexican food. Hard to turn down a margarita. So I headed over, but didn’t stay long-hard to get a taxi back to hotel after about 8:30. Very nice group of women, but most are spouses whose husbands are working at the Embassy, and discussion revolved around cake decorating for their kids’ birthdays. Not that there’s anything wrong with that-and with the number of overseas moves these women have made w/their families, my hat’s off to them-just couldn't get excited about the fondant vs frosting debate.

Now it’s back to REK on the late morning bus-a direct, but 7 hour journey, back home. Need to touch base w/Meriem when I get back. Got a call from her this morning about the cheese workshop. Not this weekend, but next month. Oh. Got our wires crossed, tho’ I’m certain I saw her write the correct dates on her calendar. Then again, I could very easily have confused her.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s been spring here in Rabat since I arrived? And that the storks have come back to roost on the minarets of the mosques? I take that as a sure sign of spring. Call me optimistic.

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