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Monday 27 October 2008

Little things make a huge difference...

This is a bit of what daily life is like in the house…

I made my first pot of mint tea tonight – 1 pot, less than 1 litre, 6 logs of sugar. Maybe it’s not as healthy as I thought… It is delicious though!

Still on the tea - it must be poured from the highest height possible – even if it splashes. Now, I had been thinking that the tea I drank in Marrakech was made in a cup that had not been rinsed properly – hence the immense amount of bubbles. I now realise that in fact the aim of the high pouring is to increase these bubbles, because ‘they’re nice in tea’.

Lunchtime…There is always a range of salads around the table and there is also bread, which is placed on the table and is used to dip into things or scoop up food with. There is always some kind of meat in the middle of the table with heaps of onions and sauce. When all of the salad is eaten and all of the sauce is gone from the meat, the meat is pulled apart and eaten. If you like bones, you have to get in quick.

Breakfast consists of milk and coffee. I am the official pourer. Most of the girls like it micky mick – which means half-half in Berber. There is also bread with cheese or apricot jam or olive oil.

Dinner is usually a soup, bread and eggs or cheese, followed by mint tea.

OK – so I was wondering how 15 girls were having a shower every day, yet we always have plenty of hot water and there is never a queue for les douches. Well, Tuesday is shower day and Saturday is Hammam Day, where they go for a big scrub in town.

Monday 20 October 2008

I spent the weekend with Latifa in Marrakech. We headed into town in a grand Mercedes taxi. These are shared between at least 6 people, plus the driver, and they work out a lot cheaper than other forms of transport. We went to Latifa’s sister’s house to stay for the night before meeting with Maryk, who helped us to buy school equipment for the girls. We utterly filled a trolley, and the total bill blew my mind (BUT this is coming from someone who only ever shops for one - not 18!!).

Whoa! Hold on?? Were we taking all of this with us back to Asni in a shared taxi? No! Latifa called a cousin of a friend and we were on our way.

We put the books into bags, so that when girls arrived this morning they were able to collect a bag and then promptly empty it to examine the contents! The girls were so thrilled. They immediately filled their schoolbags, and then they sat down to copy their homework from their old books into the new ones. They are using lovely neat writing and a range of colours and there are some very neat lines going on with their new rulers!

The flurry of excitement was fantastic, and we have some footage of them unpacking, carrying and saying thank you in French and English.

Thursday 16 October 2008

Singing up a storm

Today saw me making a host of signs for the house. Between Latifa and I, we have labelled a heap of items in French, English, Arabic, and with a spelled out version of the Arabic for me to pronounce. I’m really glad to have the chance to learn so many languages – but all at once is becoming a bit tiring. Every night, I’m going to bed utterly exhausted. My head is spinning and thinking in English, French, Arabic and Berber.

Things are so busy in the house - I didn’t leave the house at all today. By the time you make breakfast and serve the girls, then clean the house thoroughly, then make lunch then serve it, then clean up – well, it’s time to start helping the girls with homework. I’m not quite sure how school works, but at any one time there are at least 2 or 3 girls who are not at school. So, you have to keep them busy. Then, before you know it, it’s time to start preparing supper, then there is more homework and then you fall into bed. It is lovely to be there for the girls all day long and to prepare food from scratch for every meal.

We had a massive storm in Asni. There was torrential rain, which has turned the backyard into a swamp, followed by hail. The girls were soaked when they got home, and their shoes were covered in mud! It turned absolutely freezing – I put on almost all of my clothes!! After the clouds cleared and we could see the mountains the storm had brought the first layer of snow for the winter! I made dinner and the night ended with the girls singing and dancing!

The first 12 hours... a recap

Well, I've been in the house for less than 12 hours, and here is what has happened so far:

- I've been dressed up in a hijab twice

- I've watched prayers towards Mecca to Allah twice (hence the hijab)

- I've braved the Asni souq with Latifah

- I've scaled and gutted my first fish (I'm wondering why it took me 26 years to do this) and then I did 10 more for dinner

- The girls have been walking around practising all afternoon "My name is (insert relevant name). I am (insert age) years old."

- I have been wandering around practising "Niki gha sessem Linda. Darli sta'washreen am."

- We have been through the days of the week, most of the colours and come here, sit down and stand up - in English for the girls and Arabic and Berber for me!

- The girls have pointed out every view from every vantage point on the terrace - they love it up there

- I've had four cups of mint tea!

- We've cooked, cleaned, eaten, cooked some more, cleaned, eaten some more - all on the new stove top and with their adoration for everything in the house evident in the care taken when cleaning

- I've managed to distract each and every girl from their work at some point in the day with either: translating from English to French to Berber; naming things in English or French or Berber; carrying on conversations based solely on gesticulations etc.

The house is amazing. Latifa and Alima do an incredible job of looking after the girls (who are abundantly happy). The girls are absolute sponges - absorbing everything and learning so much every minute.

Thursday 9 October 2008

Hello and welcome

Salaam Alah’yakum. I am a Secondary School teacher and I am staying in Asni for a few months. The weather here is freezing, but so far my experience has been so great that most of the day I don’t notice. When you average 150 kisses a day (as I do here in Asni), it doesn’t matter what the weather holds – even though it is really cold! Oh, yeah – I’m from Australia, so surviving in the cold is not one of my strong points.
Along with plenty of kisses on their return from their weekend, I received this box of apples and walnuts, two of the main products of this area. Lovely!

This is just a quick intro to let you know who I am and to say thanks for your support of this project so far. It can be hard to know what you contribute to when you raise funds from a distance, but I hope to show you the everyday benefits of your hard work for these girls!

From all of us in Asni… THANK YOU!!!!! (Shukran bezzef in Arabic!)