October 27 - My impressions of a hilltop Berber village

This week we visited a small Berber village on the side of a red ochre hill. We expected to find some nice views of the mountains and learn a little about the homes of these people. However, this experience ended up meaning much, much more.

As we walked up the steep clay hill, we were immediately accompanied by children. At first we ignored them, thinking they were only spying on us to see what foreigners might be doing in their tiny village. As our guide taught us about the village, however, we began to understand how hard the lives of these children are. We learned that the entire village, with a population of 160 people, had no electricity or running water. This requires the children to work hard with their families to bring water from the river up to their homes on donkeys. We also learned that there are very few markets in the village. This requires the families to buy things from markets in other villages, which can sometimes be several hours away, and load them on the backs of donkeys. There are also woman from other villages on donkeys delivering gasoline for cooking and sometimes water for drinking.

As we continued up the hill we saw many people bringing water jugs and other supplies up and down on donkeys. We also saw women by the river down below washing their clothes. This seemed to us like a pretty difficult life, but fortunately none of the children looked like they were starving or poorly dressed. When they asked for coins it was very playfully, and we found it amusing to watch them call over their other friends and show off their prizes. As more and more children joined, our coins began to dwindle away and we felt horrible when we found that there wasn't enough for everyone. We gave them anything we had left including one of our ballpoint pens. When all was gone, the large group of children tagged along jumping up and down in excitement, hoping for more.

In the end we gave them a 20 Dirhan bill to split between everyone. In exchange we could take there photograph. As the children ran off in pleasure and satisfaction, we knew that we had made some new friends. They lived very different lives than us yet we could both be happy, playful and sometimes even cocky. This was a wonderful experience that I will surely not forget..