We had known for about a month that a delegation would be coming to Massa. It took weeks of planning and organizing all the youth to prepare for their arrival. It didn't help matters any that they were coming on the first day of spring camp and I would have to leave spring camp for half a day to attend. The students all had assigned tasks. Some were told to clean others were to make new decorations and a few were preparing songs and dances. The kids were excited and so was I.
The main reason for the visit was to see the activities we were doing on AIDS education. The delegation spend two weeks in the Souss visiting dar chababs in Taourdant, Ikhourbane, Tiznit, Temsia, Kolea and Houara. Through my mudir, they had heard about the AIDS skit that my Acting Out Awareness group had been traveling around the Souss area presenting. Their play would be the grand finale of the event.
On the day of the visit, I rushed back to site after finishing English class in the morning at spring camp. I arrived back in Massa right before lunch time and ran up to the dar chabab just before my mudir arrived to drop off some posters that needed to be hung. We hung the posters and then my mudir invited me to his house for lunch with him and the delegation. This was the first time he had invited me to his house and it was even more intimidating since the delegation would be there. We arrived and after a short walk around his neighborhood we sat back to enjoy meat and prune tajine, fish couscous (a local speciality), dessert, tea and cookies. It was so delicious and filling that we all had a hard time making it back to the dar chabab!
|The welcoming committee|
Already about an hour late, we arrived to the sound of drums, singing and traditional Tashalheet dancing. There were two students outside the gate waiting to greet us and a table set up with traditional Tashalheet food and youth dressed up in traditional Tashalheet clothes. After we shook hands, kissed everyone on the cheek and received our red ribbons we proceeded to walk through the dar chabab. The ministry was impressed by all the English books I've managed to procure over the past few months and the new studio that the hip hop group built. After the tour, youth and parents were invited to sit down for a short discussion with the delegation on the direction the new minister is taking. There were well over 100 people crammed into our upstairs meeting room but I've never seen so many parents taking an interest in what was happening at the dar chabab!
|The youth also created this banner for the Health Club|
Next, the youth were divided into four groups to participate in Ministry led workshops about how to be ambassadors to their peers on AIDS education. Each workshop focused on a different way of educating their peers. One group watched a video and had a discussion, another made posters, another did games and the final one talked about creating health clubs. It was very interesting to see the ministry's take on peer education. I learned a few things myself.
|Creating a poster on AIDS education|
As the event was coming to a close, we all gathered again outside under the big tent. Each group did a short presentation on what they had done during their workshop. Next a group of youth from one of the associations that's active at the dar chabab did a short play on stereotypes about Berber people. I didn't understand most of it but it was funny to watch. Then it was finally time for the Acting Out Awareness group to take the stage.
It was perfect timing. The sun was beginning to set and the shadows cast on our makeshift stage of tables only added to the drama. The audience was silent and the actors were amazing in front of the 250 strong audience. I couldn't have been more proud of their performance and all the hard work they had put into organizing the event. I could tell by their faces during the standing ovation that they too were proud of their accomplishment.
|I think doing the play outside as the sun was setting only made the play better|
Before the delegation left, we had a small reception for them with the youth who are most active in the dar chabab. I had to leave early to get back to camp but my mudir told me the delegation had nothing but good things to say about their visit. I thought that that was the end of it but I was wrong.
When I returned from spring camp my mudir told me that delegation was so impressed by the Acting Out Awareness group that we have been invited to participate in an AIDS forum in Fez! The kids couldn't be more excited. For almost all of them, it will be their first time in Fez and their first time to be that far north. We still do not know the dates of the forum but it will be in the next two months. Right now we are working out logistics with the ministry. It's just another thing that these kids can be proud about.
|Acting Out Awareness Group receiving a standing ovation|
Just another day in Peace Corps :)