Readers of this blog may have a good idea of our day-to-day life, but what is life like for a member of our community? Our Moroccan lives have intersected with some fascinating people with all kinds of different lives, passions, and dreams. Here are four mini profiles of people we know!
*Identifying information, such as names, have been changed to protect privacy.
Simo is ten years old. He attends public elementary school. He has one sister, Samira, who is thirteen and attends the colége (middle school). School is from 8am to 6pm every day except Sunday, with a two hour lunch break. After school, they often go to the youth center. It’s a place where they can play billiards, foosball, chess, and ask intrusive questions to the weird American teachers! Before they started coming to the youth center, they spent most of their time chasing donkeys, throwing rocks at each other, and various other activities that made adult passersby yell a lot. Simo’s family doesn’t have a lot of money. He and Samira share one pair of sports shoes. Simo thinks he should get the shoes more often because he plays soccer more, but Samira has seniority. When he grows up, he wants to either be a teacher or Lionel Messi.
Sanae is twenty-six years old. She’s a doctorate student at a university in Casablanca, but she lives in our city with her parents and siblings. She is studying to get her PhD in environmental chemistry. Every other day, she takes the hour-long train ride into Casablanca to attend lectures, work at her lab, and collaborate with her professors. She is able to work on her thesis anywhere though, so she doesn’t feel like there’s a need to move out of her home. Sanae often feels frustrated at the lack of opportunities in STEM fields—for women, for non-Native English speakers, for people from “developing” countries. She takes advantage of every resource she can, so despite her busy schedule, she rarely misses an English class at the youth center. Sanae is an extremely devout Muslimah, and she often writes philosophical pieces connecting religion and spirituality to principles of chemistry.
Salah is in his forties. He owns a hanut (a little shop) and always has it stocked with the same items as the Carrefour (the French chain supermarket in town) for the same prices. Every kid in the neighborhood knows Salah because he’s been known to add some extra candies to purchases. Salah uses a wheelchair, so to grab the hanut items from the top shelves, he’s devised a system of pulleys and long hooks. It’s ingenious, and it makes shopping for toilet paper a lot more fun. To every kid who comes by his hanut, Salah tells them, “qra myzien” (study well). He thinks that it’s sad that so many Moroccan youth want to leave Morocco. He understands that it’s because economic prospects are bleak and the system is difficult. “But,” he says, “If the youth today study well and work hard, they can make Morocco better.”
Soukaina is probably in her late fifties or early sixties, but she’s not sure. She doesn’t have a birth certificate or any official papers that indicate her birthday, so she’s never known the date and has forgotten the year. It’s not important to her anyways. Her husband, who died many years ago, had been a vegetable seller. Soukaina has three kids and five grandkids. Her eldest, Shayma, lives across town. Shayma is the source of all of Soukaina’s grandkids (so far). Her son Sayid has recently gotten married. However, he lives in Italy because he can’t find a job in Morocco. He wants to send for his new wife as soon as he can, but for now, she lives with Soukaina and Soukaina’s youngest unmarried daughter, Sarah. Soukaina is illiterate, but she has recently started attending the Arabic Literacy classes at the youth center. She isn’t sure she wants to continue because she thinks she’s too old to learn well, but she is excited that she is starting to be able to read the titles and credits rolling across her favorite Turkish soap operas.
Robert & Julie