Updated: Jul 14
By Sheila HAF Friends
Can faith but the size of a mustard seed move mountains? Can necessity garner supply? Can awareness prompt action? Can sharing forge success?
Before the formation of HAF and upon my first arrival in Morocco, such questions rarely drew concern. There was a summer assignment to fulfill; I but one participant in a group of volunteers to teach English. Our students had proven their academic promise but with few outlets to pursue.
Coming from colder climes, I remember being wrapped in warmth as I crossed the tarmac to the terminal. An indescribable moment of combining the curiosity of unknowns with the assurance that all was well. Smiling in anticipation of meeting my hosts, I found no one awaiting my flight. Expecting to see my luggage deposited for pick-up, it was instead recorded as lost. After an awkward introduction a driver took me to a village, only to discover my host family had changed its mind. With temporary accommodation arranged elsewhere, I was given a bed and fell asleep, albeit in the same traveling clothes I wore.
Sleep-deprived, I had little recourse but to wonder. Was the acclaimed civil organization sponsoring me (not HAF) so lax in its logistical planning? Did the local organizers really understand English when mint tea was served as reply to my queries? The seeds of faith were sprouting weeds, and the mountains of doubt loomed.
As the week progressed, my luggage was recovered, I met the other teachers, and was moved to a three-story home. Amidst its incessant activity, the traffic of summer guests, the blaring TV, and the drama at mealtime, I was welcomed as one of the family. But another aspect was missing—my need for quiet solitude. Finding a rug, I took it to the roof and passed the summer nights under the stars. And finally…all was well. The unknowns, the previous focus and intent of it all unfolded in unexpected form. New feelings cancelled fixed foresight; my well-tuned rationale retreated as intuition offered appropriate response rather than useless reaction. I began to belong.
Clichés found a fast forward in opportunity. Magical moments of collective sharing replaced my individual dictates in shaping them. Not only in the sparse classrooms, but at the market, in the café, and in meeting locals timid to know what new vocabulary their children were learning. It all came together as each of the volunteers contributed uniquely while becoming enriched beyond expectation. My experience extended to fifteen years in different locations. The blending of change with the balance of tradition; this is Morocco. This is humanity in its most vibrant colors. The founders of HAF experienced first-hand the many needs in defining and implementing development.
Development which the hindrance of geography, dialects, and regional mores imposed. Its ongoing challenges were met, dormant seeds of growth were unearthed, and the mountains took on new profiles.
The paradigms of aid are often no more than platitudes devised to enhance influence, to promote personal accolade, and to meet agendas of coffers. Ask yourself; is this the way to move mountains? Let the unschooled farmers, the stereotyped women, the youth facing disenfranchisement answer. Their reply is a resounding “No”. HAF began and continues to mobilize progressive reform. Is it founded in strict hierarchy? Is it bound by religious or political constraints? No and no. Let the continuum of its activity demonstrate a momentum fueled by dedicated mentors, by ever-new talent, by flexible adaptation, and by its international network of sponsors and support.
Are you curious how my story ends? Actually it has no ending. Opportunity is ongoing like gift packages of potential. And you? No matter your location or interests, HAF can direct a target best representative of your enthusiasm. It can mark your footprint on the landscape of contribution. Make contact; seeds will sprout higher and the mountains will bow down.