Updated: Jul 11
By Fatima Zahrae Lahlou
As a student at the National School of Commerce and Management, I volunteered in an empowerment workshop under the supervision of the High Atlas Foundation in the city of Demnat. A women’s cooperative group led by Mrs. N. participated in the workshop. She is the one who contacted the members of the Foundation to activate and organize the workshop. This woman was born into a conservative family, meaning that the women of the house are not allowed to leave the house. She tells that the house was very large, with a water well and a traditional mill, and when they needed clothes, the seamstress would come to the house and sit with them for three days or more. She was the little girl at home accompanying her father to the markets when the father was tired and could not go out to work. She assumed the responsibility and went out to trade.
Today, she is among the women who are looking to develop their area. On the first day, the members were introduced to the idea of the project and talked about what must be adhered to for the success of the workshop. Its axes are feelings, body, religion, personal power, sexual relations, and then money. We would start the day with quiet music, forget the outside world and discuss a topic with the training, and I was, in turn, helping some women to write down the answers, opening the dialogue to talk about what we benefited from, the hub and sharing experiences.
As experiences, some of them told the story of their success in cooking and becoming a cook despite the harsh conditions they had gone through and the lack of possibilities. Some of them had a dream of building a house, but they did not manage their money well, and after the money axis, they were enthusiastic about correcting their mistakes and achieving their dream. Another shared her experience in relationships with others, and after discussion, she discovered that she was behaving wrongly with her husband and children. Among them was also a woman with special needs who could not speak clearly or write, but this did not prevent her from achieving her goals. She got the first rank in one of the sports and is a member of the cooperative, and I will not forget that, on the last day, she came with a written message expressing her thanks and appreciation to all. After the end of the class, we had a fun activity to learn about the region’s culture in dance and songs.
Personally, many of them benefited from the experiences of the women present, opening up and adapting to people of different ages and gaining new relationships as a student of commerce and management. I can deal with such a cooperative in the future. Finally, I extend all my thanks and appreciation to the High Atlas Foundation, which gave us the opportunity to engage in such workshops, and the Director of the National School of Commerce and Management.
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the High Atlas Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.