Written by CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteer Mr. Soufiane Dayi
What am I doing here… It’s freezing cold!
What is voluntary work? What is the point of living for one year where you are a complete stranger? Am I truly a valuable asset to this community or not, and can I bring a change?
Well, read my story and maybe I can answer some of these questions above.
Greetings everybody. My name is Soufiane Dayi and I am 28 years old. I’m from Fes, the spiritual capital of Morocco, a city that dates back to antiquity with a twelve century old medina and a World UNESCO heritage site. I feel homesick and nostalgic for this city most of the time. After traveling all these miles and missing my family, I found myself alone in the snow-covered mountains and immersed in the discovery of Amazigh culture!
I will skip the details of the CorpsAfrica selection, interview, and PST to shed light on how I am living this volunteering experience. I will try to convey images to readers through words. After all, as Albert Einstein said, “There comes a point in your life when you need to stop reading other people’s books and write your own.” I’m writing my own and it begins here.
I will start by saying that God endowed us with something precious, something we might sometimes take for granted, something that without it, our lives would be bitter and dull. It is the love of our moms, and may God bless all the moms of the world, because without their blessings we would not walk the right path. Without their advice, we would easily diverge from lightness to darkness. Honestly, I will always remember the look on my mom’s eyes as I was leaving, and how much she was heartbroken even though she tried to hide that expression of sadness while waving goodbye to her son, leaving to the uncertainty and to the unknown.
Frankly, I had no voluntary experience before. I used to be a successful entrepreneur investing in tourism, transportation, and lodging in my company, which I built on my own. The arrival of the pandemic was an unlikely turn of events that shattered all my goals for financial freedom. I was my own boss, conducting business in an international scope, and being the freelancer that I always wanted to be. However, with such a catastrophic pandemic, my business plans needed to change, and voluntary work is a new field that I can use to give back. I hope to gain a lot from this humanitarian experience.
I have always been competitive, and have found great pleasure in accepting new challenges.
I think the first time I felt like a stranger was when I set foot in my site, a village called Tacheddirt, but it’s okay. Not only is the culture different from mine, the language barrier is my worst nightmare. I won’t lie, while working on tourism for years I learned many different languages naturally, and I’ve been learning Chinese as an alternative to work with Chinese companies in Morocco. Nevertheless, learning Berber Tamazighit is definitely the masterpiece challenge this year. As a polyglot, it will take me a few months to learn. Now almost two months have passed, and I can understand and speak a lot of the local dialect, although it drives me crazy when I can’t understand when people mutter.
I was happy to prove to many people in my site how wrong their stereotypes were that city men are soft and not capable of doing rural hard work. I basically jumped in every activity they do over here, from collecting fertilizer, to ploughing fields, to riding mules. After many attempts, I start feeling that not only I can adapt, but I can overcome challenges and be successful in my integration process. I suppose, during this one year, volunteers can learn something precious, something we cannot find in the fast-paced city life. Over here we can learn how people persevere to earn a living and survive in hard conditions, the mesmerizing simplicity of life. I value this simplicity and have learned to love the little things, while also being grateful for city life. City life is easy and I used to take it for granted, but now I have learned the true value of appreciation.
I will conclude by saying, I am a valuable asset to my community, and I will do my best to bring a CHANGE.