It’s a matter of education
Hafida has been working at a women only cooperative in Tidzi since 2003. Now, she is responsible for the production of the cooperative and simultaneously she helps the Berber to read and to write. In many ways, those women are just like her grandmother who she visited a lot during her childhood. Before working at the cooperative they had never been to school, they were not aware of their rights, stayed at home and did not earn any money.
This is Hafida’s story
The women Hafida had helped were brought up in the same rural setting as she, the countryside on the outskirts of Essaouira. Hafida studied in Essaouira until she enrolled in the University in Marrakech to study Arabic Literature. Although she enjoyed the university life of learning, reading and writing, she always dreamt of returning to her roots and felt very nostalgic whenever she thought about her childhood.
“Ignorance is a big problem. It’s important to study.”
While she was studying she realised how many people did not want to study, an opportunity that changed her life and allowed her to learn about the rest of the world. She realised lots of people were not satisfied with their life and had imaginary dreams of traveling to Europe and making a fortune. She also learned had these people studied, they could see the world and in turn this would open more opportunities for them.
When Hafida returned, people often asked her why. As an educated woman, she could have had a better life in the city, more opportunities, more money, and a better standard of life. She replied, “When I see all these women I see my grandmother.”
“I know every woman, their family and their children.”
It has not been an easy path, sometimes those who help others get so involved in their problems that they forget about themselves. And that is when problems arise. For Hafida, it is very important to have time off and switch off from work at the end of the day when she returns home from Tidzi to Essaouira, to her husband and two children. If one had to have studied, especially psychology, this helps her in her personal and interpersonal relationships, on the other having been brought up as a true Berber helps her communication with the women.
Now the Berber women in the community learn how to read the Quran and pray. They can read the newspapers and learn what is going on in the world around them. They have access to advice, to support, and to the simple things they did not have before.
What does Hafida say to those who dream of helping women in rural settings?
“It’s your heart that leads you to do a job. I did not look for money, or how much I was going to earn. When I did the exam, I didn’t even discuss my wages. I love the countryside, and above everything else, I love the women who work with the argan oil. It was my heart that guided me. And I will say something else, if your heart is satisfied, you will feel very satisfied too.”
Passion: To empower countryside women
Inspiration: Her grandmother