Conclusion of Women’s Center – Morocco

This project has been completed under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteer Erin Atwell. To read about the beginning of the project, CLICK HERE.

This project was to participate in the construction of a women’s center by providing for the water and sanitation portions of the construction.

Erin reports:

Conclusion of Women’s Center – Morocco

Of the four objectives identified for the Talbrjte Community Center, three have been reached. First, the center was constructed. Construction took place between December 2009 and April 2010. While rain and other undesirable weather slowed the pace of construction, the work was still completed in April.

Construction included the completion of the kitchen sink and bathrooms, funded by Water Charity. The local association decided to add some elements to the center, including tile floors and extra access to water, which is currently taking place.

The second objective of the center, obtaining equipment and supplies, has only been partially completed. The health room is fully equipped and functioning in a sustainable way. Supplies from the Ministry of Health were delivered to the center in order to prepare for the nurse and midwife’s visits. Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic red tape, the machines and supplies for the literacy and handicraft rooms have not been delivered. These supplies will come from the Ministry of Social Development as soon as they are sent from Rabat.

The third objective, to staff the center, is also complete. A local trained girl is ready to begin handicraft lessons upon the delivery of the equipment. A local educated girl is ready to begin literacy lessons upon the delivery of the literacy room equipment. The nurse and midwife have begun their bi-weekly visits to the health room of the women’s center.

The final objective of the center was completed on April 22, 2010. The Talbrjte Women’s Center had its inauguration in the presence of the women and girls of the community as well as men, local government officials, and Peace Corps staff.

While the community is both satisfied and feels that the goals have been reached, they will be even more satisfied once all of the equipment has been delivered.

Erin reports on the impact of the project on the community, based on discussions with various community members:

The Talbrjte Women’s Center project built and continues to build capacity in the community of Talbrjte and in the surrounding areas. Besides demonstrating that a female community organized activity can be achieved, the center empowers women to gain education and new skills.

The Talbrjte Association members gained new skills, such as fundraising, grant writing, project monitoring, contracting, working with other associations, working with women and working with the local government.

The women and girls of Talbrjte gained new skills, such as community organizing, meeting, defining needs, project follow-through, and motivating others. These women and girls will continue to gain new skills through the health education, literacy, and handicraft lessons they will receive.

Erin reflects on the future:

Community members will apply/sustain their new skills in various ways. The Talbrjte association members will apply their skills by continuing to work on improving the women’s center. At the moment, they are adding tile and extra water access to the center. In the future they plan to build a second floor for the center. They are also taking charge of any recurring costs by opening a bank account and fund-raising through other associations and donors. This initiative is already being demonstrated in the decision to add tile and extra water access to the center.

The women and girls will apply their new skills in their everyday life. They are now prepared to initiate other community activities at the women’s center. They will use their new health skills to improve the health of themselves and their families. They will use their literacy skills and handicraft skills for personal improvement.

Erin sets forth the lessons to be learned:

A few unexpected events occurred during the implementation of this project. First, the weather prohibited construction from being completed in two and a half months. I would advise volunteers intending to implement a similar project to plan for construction to take place during the spring and summer months.

Second, the equipment for the literacy and handicraft rooms are late in being delivered. This was unexpected, but at the same time it was not surprising, and fortunately the association and the community members are willing and able to adjust.

Another unexpected event was the amazing cooperation and coordination of the association members and local officials. It was great to work with such wonderful people who truly have the best intentions for the women in mind.

We are grateful to Erin for carrying out this ambitious and important project. We again express our gratitude to Cory & Sue Wilson, Alexandra Corriveau, Jane Preston, and other donors who provided funds for the Water Charity participation in the project.