Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Are They Doing Now That I'm Gone?

What are they doing now that I'm gone...? Isn't that the test? The measure of sustainable development lies not in what I do but what they've internalized and thus sustain on their own. I've been in touch with several women since leaving and I couldn't be more proud.

In November, Asmaa Sidi Baba, a Moroccan designer, visited the village. Amina and I had made this contact back in May at Marche Maroc Rabat. I then met her on two more occasions to work through ideas and possibilities. Before I was medically separated, I had helped the women prepare some samples for her new crochet metal collection. However, I could not be there for her visit. Had I been there, I would have had to take care of all the logistics and external communications by default. Instead, Aicha, the Association President, handled everything as she should! Bravo 3liha.

From what I gathered, they had a very productive day. Asmaa brought her design sense and market knowledge. She represents the vital but missing link for so many of Morocco's artisans. During the visit, she placed several orders with the women due in December. Highlights of her new line include the following:

** 90 cm double chain necklace

**Mixed metal hoop earrings

**Sterling Silver and Copper Crochet Cuff

The last piece requires a collaboration with a silversmith from Tiznit (about 1 1/2 hr taxi ride away). I was fortunate to stumble upon an extremely honest and sincere (nichan) silversmith. Again, I made the initial contact and spent a couple days working alongside him. And again, I did not have the chance to slowly transfer the contact over. But what does that matter?! They seem to have made this relationship work! Aicha or Nadia, who is in charge of external communications, contacted him. And he has sent the cuff frames on CTM (Morocco's national bus line). Wonderful! The price of silver fluctuates. This means that the women need to walk through costing and pricing all over again. Talking to Aicha, she seems confident in doing so. Tbark allah 3lihom.

Is there still more work to be done? Of course. And I think there could always an argument to do "more work." However, my work with them, at least in this capacity, has come to a conclusion. They've demonstrated how much more they can handle. My heart is full.

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