Written by CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteer Mr. Hamza Aboubaigi
Speaking Arabic and wearing modern clothing in front of 34 Berber men isn’t really
the best way to leave a good first impression!
As a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, I was appointed to manage a project that had already started in
a Berber commune in the southeastern verse of the Atlas High Mountains. I was super
excited and everything was looking promising. Moreover, I weirdly believed that everything
would go 100% smoothly. It turns out I was 100% wrong.
Insanely happy and excited, I reached my host village for the first time with CorpsAfrica staff
members. The welcoming from the locals was pretty much warm, since they already knew
about our arrival and purpose there. Everything was as expected and maybe even
more. I found a beautiful small place to stay, warm in the cold weather and next to a
lovely family that has never left us wanting for anything. So I started my mission right away after settling down.
After spending two weeks in the village, and with great help from the youth of Douar, we
planned for a meeting with the local community in order to provide them with some updates
about the project and at the same time to ask, hear and integrate with them.
I didn’t realize that I was being reckless until the moment I found myself in front of 34
men talking in a language that only 3 or 4 of them understand. Most of the men only spoke Berber and sacrificed their work in the fields to come and listen to me. I actually forgot that this is a Berber village, and it was really a weird thing to forget that in the middle of excitement. But in that day I deeply knew that I’ve underestimated the whole mission from the beginning, especially when I saw some of the men leaving the meeting room.
In the middle of that difficult situation, someone appeared to me as a hero. A friend
from the village that can speak both Arabic and Berber languages came and played the
intermediary role between us. He did just save me, but perhaps the whole project.
Maybe you really have the will and the passion to make an impact, but you might be
making things harder without good planning and taking into account every
small detail. As the Greek Philosopher Seneca once said, “Preparation is everything.”