Rabat - I recently got into a cab in Rabat city, and as it usually happens with Moroccan taxi drivers, he shared with me a life lesson.
Rabat – I recently got into a cab in Rabat city, and as it usually happens with Moroccan taxi drivers, he shared with me a life lesson.
The moral from his story was “Moroccans are no longer who they used to be, always be careful.” As he went on and on with his pessimistic comparison between Morocco’s warm past and cold present; I began recalling the numerous times I heard similar phrases “the time for trust is long gone” “good deeds get you in trouble, nowadays”. My optimistic 21 year old self wouldn’t believe that Moroccans have dismissed their core values so I began a Moroccan pride haunt. Here are five impressive Moroccans to back up my wishful thinking.
- The physician who launched a free clinic.
If being a humanitarian and a member of “Doctors without Borders” isn’t impressive enough for you; building a free medical center should do the trick. On June 15 last year, Dr. Zouhair Lahna, an obstetrician surgeon, announced on his Facebook page that the “Injab” center, for preventive and curative care, was free of charge for Syrian and sub-Saharan refugees and limited-income Moroccans.
But just like a classic children’s tale, there can’t be a hero without a villain and there can’t be a Dr. Lahna without the ministry of health. Indeed, the latter shut down the center less than two weeks after its opening.
The doctor gave the practice a second try after he came back from helping Syrians caught in the civil war. Lahna and his patients will eventually get their happy ending after the practice got its authorization earlier this year.
- The woman who gave a boy a face.
No, that is not a metaphor; Fatima Baraka really gave four-year-old Yahiya Al Jabali a face. The young boy was born with a deformed facial bone structure due to womb complications. After his story went viral on social media, the Moroccan “fairy godmother” got in touch with the boy’s parents and flew him to Melbourne, her city of residence, where he received the medical care adequate to his delicate case. All expenses were covered by Baraka.
This remarkably generous lady offered young Al Jabali more than an all-covered expenses procedure. In fact, she offered him life, since his survival without the surgery was questionable. She offered him a normal childhood filled with inclusion without pity. She offered him a hopeful future to dream, he and his parents, about what great deeds he could grow up to accomplish.
- The lovely policeman
Ask Moroccans about the first word they associate to police officers, their answer is most likely to be corruption. But after 25 years of dedicated service, Rachid Lakad, a traffic policeman in downtown Sale, was able to brighten the image of officers of the law in the minds of members of the Sale community.
According to locals, he never received bribes and always assisted disabled crossing the road. In fact, his righteousness and dedication was so present that one local started a fundraising to make officer Lakad’s wish, of performing the pilgrimage in mecca, come true.
Sadly, the fundraising never reached the contribution stage after Lakad was questioned by the police department about it. Reportedly, the pilgrimage expenses were to be covered by the police department, so not all hope is lost for our lovely officer.
- Flowers for tolerance
Youth Forum for Democracy and Citizenship (YFDC) is a Moroccan NGO with the initial vision of defending sub-Saharan immigrants and later Syrian refugees against discrimination and racial profiling. On a particular mission, the young members of the NGO spread around the streets of Rabat distributing roses to immigrants. A heartwarming gesture met with emotional reactions. Apparently, a number of receivers have burst into tears when presented with the rose. So let’s give a gold star to these young Moroccans who reminded us that “Moroccans too, are African”.
- “You sleep, you eat, you go on and we wish each other a good journey”
Marrakech is a vibrant, fun but aggressive city. It seems that everyone there is in a hurry, jumping at the occasion to prey on naïve visitors. So much that it makes one doubt the Moroccan hospitality everyone keeps praising.
Don’t be too hasty to conclude just yet, here’s an example of exactly the opposite. A video showing an encounter between Antoine, French tourist, and a Moroccan local has gone viral after it had been uploaded to Facebook. The video in question shows the Moroccan man inviting the stranger to his humble home, offering him food and a place to spend the night, even though there’s a hotel in the area.
Moreover, when Antoine offers monetary compensation for the local’s trouble, the latter repeatedly declines saying “No money, nothing! You sleep, you eat, you go on, and we wish each other a good journey.”
Let me modify my earlier statement. It is not my naively hopeful young self who wanted to search the goodness in Moroccans, but rather the practical adult in me who realizes that there already are so many obstacles in this country without making Moroccans themselves another. This adult prefers to be proactive by celebrating those who make our nation proud and hopes to join them some day.