It is now the time of year that I have come to refer to as the tipping point. This is the point when the weather is heating up at what appears to be a few degrees every day, and has an inverse relationship to the amount of activity that goes on in town. I am hesitant to admit that it is summer quite yet, in that I am not yet sweating bullets and forced to sleep with a soaked sheet draped over my naked body for protection from the deadly heat waves trapped inside my oven-turned house, yet it is most certainly getting there.
In one of my many efforts to counteract the feeling of worthlessness that such a raise in temperature and a drop in anything productive tends to engender, I decided to hold a SIDA (French acronym for AIDS) candlelight vigilante at the Dar Chebab last Thursday. Despite my procrastination in advertising for this event, there was a remarkable turnout, and it ended up being a big success.
With a focus on empathy for victims of HIV/AIDS, we started things out with several activities that involved having a volunteer, or volunteers, needing to accomplish a task that required the assistance of audience members for its accomplishment. I always enjoy such activities in that the message pretty much speaks for itself and requires little explanation and analysis in Darija. My favorite of these activities entails taking 3 volunteers from the audience out of the room, and asking the audience members to pick an object in which the volunteers must locate as they come in one by one. When the first volunteer enters, the spectators are instructed to “boo” loudly and obnoxiously (was glad to help with this part) when he/she gets farther to the object, and do nothing when he/she gets farther away. With the second person, people are instructed to “boo” when he/she gets farther, and applaud when he/she gets closer. Finally, with the third person, people are told to cheer him or her on when going towards the object, and provide no negative feedback when going away from it. Gotta love an activity that involves being noisy to make a point.
This was followed by an incredible presentation from my favorite counterpart Merium, the Mudira (principle figure) the Dar Taliba (girls center). Entirely on her own she made up a game similar to “hot potato”, which involved passing a ball of multiple sheets of paper, each with a trivia question about an AIDS/HIV fact (i.e. “How can HIV be transferred?) around in a circle with music playing. Whenever the music stopped, whoever was holding the ball at that time would have to read a question out loud and attempt to answer it, with the audience adding to and critiquing the response as needed. It was probably the most captivating and information heavy activity I have witnessed since being here.
As for the candlelight vigilant itself, it all went according to our last minute haphazard plan. We created an AIDS ribbon in the gravel outside the Dar Chebab, handed out the candles, lit them for the kids, and walla, instant AIDS memorial. Despite it being short lived, it made for a great photo-op and the seemed to be rewarding for the kids. Inchallah, this can be something that future generations of PCV’s and community leaders can continue in the future.
Aside from the vigilante and occasional classes (which have been increasingly wearing thin given the time of year, and the cramming for the high school exams being carried out by my students), the past month has been pretty laid back. Indeed, it is the time of year that for me consists of the accomplishment of personal tasks, continued exploration of my surroundings here (which will not come to an end until my service does), and excessive amounts of relaxation. It is also time for me to begin finalizing my plans for summer travel to Spain, along with post PC travel through West Africa.
Oh, how I will miss my Moroccan summer schedule (along with my Moroccan life “schedule” for that matter). Until next time...