Friday, March 25, 2011

Women's health workshop details

The idea was born for this workshop in December 2010. I met my new friends Khadija and Soukaina at the end of that month. After getting to know them for several weeks I asked them if they would be interested in helping me with this project.

In February we started talking specifics. I gave them my ideas and I gave them time to think about theirs. Pretty soon we decided on the content we were going to present.

We had four sessions and these are the subjects:
-First aid including CPR
-Self breast exam and contraception
-Exercising and stretching

Later on that month we decided on a place to hold the workshop. We wanted to have it at a women’s center here in town. Since there are two we planned to look at both and pick the best one. The first one did not greet us very enthusiastically. We were told we would have to have permission from people in the provincial capitol to hold our event there. We walked away discouraged.

We moved on to the other women’s center and the women there were much more accommodating and friendly. They told us that all we had to do was give them our dates and they would have the place set up for us.

Now we were left to prepare our information, which we divided up. We also had to figure out how we could get cookies and tea for the event, as it is a standard addition to any Moroccan event.

For a few weeks we worked independently on our presentations.

The week before the workshop I wanted to return to the women’s center just to finalize our plans and tell them our program.

That was when the s*** hit the fan. The women acted very differently this time and told us that we would have to have permission to have our event there. And at that point we only had three working days before our event was to happen.

Also we had already given out invitations with that location on it. This is when I lost it.  I got angry and frustrated and had a good cry. The following day I had to talk to my friends so we could figure out a solution. 

It seems in Morocco that nothing is privately owned. Every venue in our town that was big enough to have an event like this required permission from the mayor of the city hall in order to hold our event.

The issues with that were:
-The city hall was on strike the day we wanted to get the permission
-The mayor isn’t the nicest or friendliest guy around so most people don’t like dealing with him

But we decided we would have it at the town library because it is perfect for events like this. We wrote up our request and skipping forward to the good part-we got the permission., the Friday before the event took place.

My friend Saida got the copies we wanted for free at the city hall because she works there. That saved us quite a bit of money.

We gave the women copies of :
-The food guide pyramid in Arabic
-A self breast exam chart in Arabic
-A sheet of drawings  (by Khadija) of all the exercises and stretches the women can do at home

Saida also offered to make the cookies and prepare and serve the tea for the event. I gave her 200 dirhams to purchase all the ingredients.

We used a projector to show pictures and videos to illustrate our information. Jolie kindly brought hers and after about a 20 minute freak out we got everything running smoothly.

The event took place over two afternoons. We talked a lot about days and times trying to pick the best when we thought women would actually show up. It was Monday and Tuesday 3-6pm. But we told our invitees to come at 2:30 hoping that would make them arrive at 3. Moroccan people are usually late. We didn't end up getting started until 3:30 each day and participants kept arriving until then.