By Larbi Arbaoui
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant, May13, 2012
In a small village in the southeast of Morocco, some girls and women are working together in full swing under associations and cooperatives. Some of them have academic degrees while others have dropped out from school at early ages. Yet, their devotion to handicrafts and their desire to help themselves as well as their families are the main factors that have brought them to work collaboratively.
A few years ago, nature no longer provided bountiful crops enough for all the hungry stomachs and did not endow the villagers with spacious green pastures for raising their herds like before. Tourism, which was once a good source of significant revenue, remarkably decreased and the shops designed for tourists were forced to lower prices in order to conform to the purchasing power of the local market. These unexpected changes in the socioeconomic status of the village have paved the way to different social, cultural and economic practices.
This shift at the socio-cultural level of the village has cleared the way for women to work actively from within civil associations and cooperatives that were previously exclusive to men. These women are committed to the activities organized by their associations. They never miss any event to carve out a niche for their products among regional and national exhibitions, held occasionally for such commercial activities. Their happiness for having presented their products in public shows and exhibitions somehow over-dominate the lucrative purpose.
I have personally had the privilege to attend some workshops and witnessed the accomplished work of some of these distinguished women. At the core of their work place, some of them are working individually while others are working collaboratively like bees.
I sat by the weavers. They were three young girls in traditional clothes. For a while, I was captured by the harmonious movements of their fingers and hands while placing threads of different colors crossed the web. The only sounds you can hear were the beats of an iron comb-like utensil hitting the threads to stick them firmly to the web. From then on, the girls sang chorally uplifting local songs accompanied by the rhythm produced by hitting the web. Even talented artists and mathematicians will stay enthralled by the neat equal spaces left between those symbols decorating the rag without using neither rulers nor measuring devices.
I had a short conversation with one of the active member of the association who told me that making handicrafts is time consuming, very laborious and not very lucrative. But in spite of the hard work, she prefers working with her friends in associations rather than setting up a personal project because, she believes, the society is not yet ready to accept a woman running a shop for producing handicrafts or fixing things.
Traveling to work in big city, which may be more rewarded, is worse she added for a girl working far from her own family is not safe. Working within women associations with limited resources is a challenge and finding markets to commercialize their products is the biggest challenge.
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