By Mohammed El Wahabi
Rabat – During the month of February, I had the chance to lead a writing workshop at the IRC Center in the U.S. Embassy where young female Moroccan students and dreamers wrote speeches in English inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
There is nothing more heart-warming, inspiring and promising than the atmosphere created by a team of Moroccan youth discussing and writing about their dreams. Their eyes were glinting with pride and excitement. When talking, their hands, gestures and facial expressions all revealed a compelling harmony that manifested — to a mind-blowing extent — the freedom they wholeheartedly felt, touched on and enjoyed.
Someone said once that life without dreams is like a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. At the workshop, these young women were the birds, stretching their wings and flying over all misconceptions, stereotypes and shadows. They all showed great passion and willingness in voicing their thoughts, speaking about their fears and saying what they were holding inside them.
As a man, I felt deeply touched by the stories of those powerful young women who made strong characters for books I want to read and write. They were eager to show, in both their discussions and writings, that they exist, that they care, that they have a dream — many dreams, actually.
There are certain women that inspire me, whether it’s Isabel Allende, Barb Mackraz, or my own insightful granny. More importantly, these women helped me learn what life is all about to some degree. The young women at the workshop inspired something new in me: Their fresh, new vibe, with the guidance of the senior warriors, is able to give just as much and contribute to making the world a better place.
My heart aches when I consider all the young women from underprivileged communities who must have so many things to say but little power to do so. They live in environments where everything is designed to subjugate them and seize their will. Thinking of that huge potential being squandered made me feel sorry and angry.
I dove into the eyes of the young women around me looking for hope. Things like dreams, aspirations and exploration are only words deprived of sense and context for many girls out there in the world. A girl with a dream is as powerful and tenacious as a mother bearing a child. One thing is for sure, nothing can stop her from bringing it to life. If empowered, she can create a future that is on track with her desires, a bright future that serves us all.
Their speeches left us enthralled, teary-eyed, contemplating and floundering between deep thoughts and great expectations. They brought us to a greater understanding of the extent to which these young women are capable of bringing a positive change to society through their ideas and overwhelming passion.
The messages and values addressed seeped into our consciousness and our awareness. Some of the speeches triggered our compassion for their sorry circumstances while at the same time they drew genuine smiles on our faces as we realized that hope paves the road and makes things better.
Aya, an amazing 16-year-old student from Temara, wrote in her speech: “We want a genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes us want to live [on Earth], the kind that encourages men and nations to grow, to hope and to build a better life for their children, not just peace in our time but peace for all time.
A time where every person with a religion will practice in peace. Every initiator with an idea will create in peace. Every musician with a voice will sing for peace. Every skin color, every mindset, every lifestyle, every tradition, every culture and every heart will be equal, exalted and united in peace.”
Houdna Rguib, a 19-year-old anesthesiology nursing student, wrote: “I long for a safe community, where love and peace reigns, where everyone everywhere is happy with their choices and their lives, and today, with our determination we can make it possible. If every one of us started change within ourselves and the small community around us, then alongside the law, we can guarantee that Moroccan children are nourished with love and care.
If we demand excellence, then demand nothing but excellence from our educational system, we will guarantee the psychological well-being of children everywhere in our wonderful country. This is only possible if we strengthen patriotism and nationalism among us citizens, regardless of the challenges that we encounter, we will sacrifice and we will stay patient, and I envision, we will be a great nation one day.”
Also among us was Zineb Beladel, a YouTuber and blogger who said in her speech: “As a woman, for some, I was what I looked like, but I never looked nice enough. For others I was what I did, but for them I never did enough or I did a lot and that was too much. And because of that, if took me time to assimilate that I am enough. I got enough of their sayings and did research to discover that I am enough.
I started to look for women who accomplished stuff, there had to be some of them, I thought. And, many of them I found. And they taught me what a woman can be.
We women do not forget about our values even when reaching high positions. Like Michelle Obama, who was not perceived only as the wife of the President but [her] work for the education of girls led her to have a name of her own.”
Their words, emerging from stories and anecdotes we hear and from the serious issues cropping up in the world or in the country, exhibited wisdom and originality. Their parents’ eyes lit up with pride and amazement as they saw their daughters turn into strong leaders and inspiring public speakers swooping into the sky, advocating for peace, human rights, education, healthcare and more.