Update from Morocco

To believe in the strength of Love and Truth to refuse to despair of human persons. It is to witness that there is in each of us a secret seed of childhood, an ability to be born again which is sown in the deepest depths of the human heart. Little sister Annie (1986)
CasablancaCasablanca

Casablanca:

In the streets of Casa, we can see more and more sub-Saharan migrants. Some of them are very young, turned away from trying to cross the northern border. Most of them sleep on a field near the bus station and beg on the avenues. Seeing them so numerous with such a lot of needs, we feel overwhelmed and fearful. Caritas Morocco started an organization to support and help them: young people, Moroccans and Africans, are trying to go to meet them wherever they live. One of those in charge, not so young, was moved by their distress, and now for over a year, he has been trying to mobilize everyone he can to help them. This year, with his team and some volunteers, he prepared a Christmas meal for about 500 migrants, plus a parcel for each one of them: a warm jogging suit, a toiletry kit, food… all of which he got from Christians and Muslims. With his eyes full of light, he told them: “God is generous, so we have to share!” We joined with the many other people to help serve and just to be there with them for that meal: “They need your smile and your friendship.” Thank you, George, you have given us a push to help prepare the land of tomorrow! This land hasn’t arrived yet, though. When some of those young people went back to their camp, it was raided in an effort to disperse them elsewhere. Let’s not give up!

Rabat:

From Anne Yvette: There are four of us in our community, from four different nationalities. “Internationality, a reality to be lived more than a discourse. We still have a long way to go until we let ourselves be enriched by one other, emptying ourselves and making space for others for the sake of forming a new Body.” (from the chapter). Each one of us feels that very much. We are on the way. Our culture, our traditions are great riches that we try to put together so that the community can really live. Mixed into that is also each one with her temperament and it is good to see the differences, so that the community can be strongly built. This is a big challenge. Our neighborhood is marked by the life of each person in it, big and small. We have good and simple relationships. Often, from the kitchen, I can recognize voices: Moui Rebha, Fatima, Khadija. That helps me to be united to each of their lives. Life enters our house and enlightens my daily life. The children, in the middle of their games, like to come to get a kiss.

From Mercy Mbugua: I am still at the center for migrants and I fit in well with them in many ways. In the Arab dialect, the word for migrants, “mouhajirin,” means those who are not citizens of the country and so I find myself like them. We share a lot of our worries about our countries of origin, about the lack of employment, the difficulty to find jobs if you don’t know someone, how society doesn’t look after orphans, etc. The list would be long. These are some of the reasons why young people emigrate. I would like to share with you two situations which touched me a lot: A young man left his country, he crossed all the borders and the desert. When he arrived here he heard that his father had died. That really upset his life. He decided to go back home to look after his brothers, sisters, and his mother. I was moved to see how he abandoned his projects in order to look after his family. A woman, after giving birth to twins, discovered she had breast cancer. She came to ask for help to be looked after. I found her very peaceful, accepting the reality very simply. She put everything into the hands of God and other people, living the present moment.


Fez

From Lucille One morning, when I started work at the hospital where I have been working for three years, I saw a tiny baby boy who had been brought during the night. I heard that the police had found him in the street and brought him. I looked at him. I thought he was so beautiful. I was quite puzzled by some red marks around his eyes, like rings. I heard that ants had started to eat him! I really wondered what had happened and how much he must have suffered. At the end of the day, I realized that he had not cried. He would drink when given a bottle, but he would not cry for it. I started to think that he must have cried so much with no one answering that he did not believe in bothering anymore. His look seemed empty, so I took him in my arms and held him tight and stroked him as gently as possible. I stayed a long time like that. When I put him back in his bed, it seemed to me there was a spark of life in his eyes. When I came back the following day, I was happy to hear him cry. Life had won! What is beautiful is that the story does not end there. All of a sudden there was a surge of solidarity - first among the young ones who are working in the department, Meriem, Fatimzaha and Leila. They are employed by an association to help in different ways and they are always ready to hold him in their arms and feed him. Najia, from the housekeeping department, also started to help. We even managed to give him a bath and then we discovered he had a little wound on his head where the ants had come. Every day we found new clothes in his bed but we did not know who put them there. We even gave him a name, “Youssef.” When Rachida, the social worker, came to take him to the orphanage, we were all sad and decided to go and visit him. As it was the time of Ramadan, we collected a bit of money to buy the special clothes for him for the feast. It happened that Nathalie used to work in a workshop where they made the traditional clothes for children and men, so she went to ask her former boss. When he heard it was for a little infant who had been abandoned, he donated the clothes. We just bought the little red fassi hat and the yellow slippers. It was an outfit just right for a little prince! Then off we went, Najia, Meriem and myself to the nearby hospital where the orphanage is located. They welcomed us warmly and we were allowed to go and see Youssef who had been renamed Sofiane. He is still so beautiful with gorgeous hair, all curly and very black. As I got near him, there was a light in his eyes. I am sure he recognized me. I was happy to discover a brand new orphanage, well equipped and already full of children. I was happy to see the two ladies in the room putting henna on all the children, even the smallest. We were happy to hear that Sofiane Youssef had been adopted by a family. And we went back light hearted! Whenever I think of the Child in the crib, I imagine him with Youssef’s features! I was struck to see this little defenseless child able to awaken the best in each of us - our generosity, sharing, and finally our love.

From Elie Miriam: Encouraged by the orientations of our last chapter to get to know what makes others live and to be close to Muslims who are open, I spent a very enriching week participating in the Sufi cultural festival in Fes. Here are some pearls I discovered at the different round table discussions:
Sufi FestivalSufi Festival Touria Iqbal, a teacher, spoke about young people who seem to live superficially, but who deep down are thirsting for the absolute, the beautiful, and to be connected. In that context, she cited the following: “Light settles in a broken heart and one becomes a child in front of the Divine Majesty.” Another day she told us: “Remain in a state of wonder. Children can teach us. Children are more in what gives quality and are very near to the divine within them. She told us that one day she asked one of her little nephews what she could give her brother-in-law as a birthday present. The little one answered: “A lot of cuddles!” One of the speakers told us that in this spirituality it is mainly a question of a personal journey, but that it also touches the way we live together. “Preserve a quality of life, live in solidarity and be attentive to others!” Ibn Araba, an Andalusian Muslim from the 12th century, said: “We are only travelers.” Life is a journey. One of the speakers shared about her experience with the Fula people (“les Peuls,” also known as the Fulani or Fulbe people): The question of the nomads is, “How can we dwell on the earth? While the question of city dwellers is, “How can we possess the earth?” And she asks, “How can we think of possessing since we are travelers? The art of living is, above all, generosity, giving what one has.” As for religious dialogue, we have to “first look for what we have in common, not for what is different.” “All religions must find their place.” For a very long time now I have been meeting a man on the main street of the Kasbah as he is on his way to the mosque, especially at the time of prayer. He has a beautiful peaceful face. He seems to me to be someone good and serious. But I did not dare to greet him. Here a woman does not greet a man in the street whom she does not know. Some days ago, I was coming back from the souk with a heavy parcel in both hands. All of a sudden someone came behind me and grabbed one of my bags. I was very surprised and when I looked I saw that it was him. He had made this spontaneous gesture and I just couldn’t get over it! He did not say a word, walked quite fast a little bit in front of me, and left my bag at the entrance of our alley. Then he disappeared in the next alleyway. A little miracle of daily life! And since then, I greet him and he greets me back, putting his right hand on his heart, a beautiful traditional gesture of respect.Nathalie, Eli Myriam, LucileNathalie, Eli Myriam, Lucile