Thursday, January 28, 2010


    I recently enjoyed a personal triumph of sorts. After spending the last ten months in site wrangling and finagling with the people of my site and the staff of Peace Corps I finally pushed a very important project through the bureaucracy that is the federal government. Somehow we managed to retain the essence of my community's dreams while satisfying the requirements of the Peace Corps Partnership Program.

    This program allows the people of communities in which American volunteers serve to share their dreams with Americans. The exchange is that the proud people of our sites admit publicly to the world that we can't do it alone. We recognize that we are part of something larger than ourselves, and that we cannot accomplish great things without everyone's participation. We recognize that, while we may be building sustainability, exchanging cultures, and knowledge, the one thing we are doing above all else is building relationships. These are relationships built on trust, compassion, and faith in the basic goodness of all people. Sometimes these relationships are also built out of brick and mortar.

    The amazing people in my site have shared their lives with me, an outsider. They have welcomed me with open arms, and they have done all this with the belief that I will repay their kindness with my knowledge, skills, and my connections to resources they couldn't access on their own. They believe, perhaps correctly, that I can enrich their lives if they let me.

    It's not easy for them to do this. This is a very hospital culture, but not one that has been gently used by history. Countless cultures have come knocking on their doorstep looking to take their land, their identity, and their livelihood. I've heard people in this country accuse the Amazigh, the people I live with, of racism. I've heard them ridiculed as backwards, closed, and obstinate people. It is said that they are unwilling to change, unwilling to advance themselves, and unwilling to cooperate for the betterment of their country. I am here to tell you this is not true. A family, whose average level of education is somewhere around 5th grade, welcomed me into their home. They opened their house to me, a stranger, a non-believer, and (maybe most dubious of all) a young unmarried man.

    I feel honored by their trust, and yours. I represent you all, whether you like it or not, to the people of Morocco and more specifically to the people in my site. I am trying to make their experience of Americans a good one, and they are trying to show me who they truly are in the same way. It's a tentative exchange sometimes, but mostly it's been good. Day by day we have worked with and for each other. I've learned their language and they've learned to accept my strange habits. I've listened to their hopes and dreams, and they've listened to me try to frame a way they could make them a reality. I trusted them, and they've trusted me.


    The URL above is where you will find the project my association and I have poured blood, sweat, and tears into for the last ten months. This URL represents our faith in you; my friends, family, and readers. We are asking you, in these difficult economic times, to look into your pocket to see if you can't spare a little change. I told my community that the people of America are generous, despite what it says on the news. I told them that if I am willing to give two years of my life to them, surely you would give them some of the money they need to ensure a better future for their children. I told them that my people will help them if they ask with open hearts. I told them that if they are open to you, strangers, outsiders, and non-believers, then you will be open to their need.

    I wouldn't ask you, my readers, for your help if we didn't actually need it. You can trust me on that. Today I am asking you, please, to prove that I was telling the truth. Read over the proposal that I have written at the behest of the people who have taken me in. If it seems like a worthy project to you, then give a little bit of what you have to my Moroccan friends and family. We are counting on you to help us make this dream a reality. I believe that this project is worth whatever you have to contribute. If you agree with me tell your friends and family. Spread the word and the URL. We would really appreciate it. Thank you for your generosity, believe me when I say that I few dollars will be building more than irrigation canals. It will build friendships with people who deserve it, and who, if you should find yourself in the neighborhood, will gladly give what they have back to you. Once again, I thank you in advance for whatever you have to give.

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