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La Vita Grassa

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Location: Aarhus, Denmark

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Zagora Craft Fair

I have lots of excuses for why you haven't heard from me since April 8th. Some are valid. Some not so valid... like just not being in the mood to share much... But I did head to Rabat twice in April, flew back to the States for a vacation with the family in Virginia Beach, returned to deal with a severe bit of culture shock, and then the latest.. a craft fair in Zagora.

Bouchra (my PC program manager) put me in charge of it back in March. We changed the dates three times. After much wrangling with Ministers, and with the help of an excellent team: Nam Lamore, Anne Richardson, Jong Son, Andrea Lueke, and others we pulled it off. I'm not really motivated to go into great detail right now, but I thought pictures would be better than nothing.

We had 30 artisans in attendance from all over Morocco: some traveled two full days to get here; 15 Peace Corps Volunteers accompanied them. We were able to provide transportation, hotel accommodations, all meals, tents, tables and night lights for each artisan.

Total sales: upwards of 19,000 Dirham.

(In dollars approximately $2,200. Fairly decent sales. Almost all artisans sold at least a little.)

The Queens :)

The organizers: Nam Lamore, Bouchra (our Peace Corps boss), Me and Anne Richardson. They were a tremendous help with an advertisement brochure, logistics, workshops, you name it. Everyone else who attended were first year volunteers.

Gavin and his stellar artisan: they sold ALL their basket wares: over 3,500 MAD worth.

Foolin' around..Gavin, Leslie, Kareem (all Americans, mind you).

Posing pretty...

Rose Demir, Bouchra and Amina Yarbis

Our entertainment

My tent crew

The unveiling of the hammock... ta da ta da!

Nam Lamore and artisans checking out photos on a laptop.

My new grandma... (from Timhadite)

The Officials: Si Mohammed Zahir (Delege of the Ministry Entraide Nationale, Pr. Zagora..the guy I worked with to coordinate this event), Bruce Cohen (Peace Corps Morocco Director), Zagora Province Governor.
Most of our crew.

Workshops: Topics included Micro Credit, Fair Trade & Export (I conducted that one, though was a little leery to broach such a complicated subject with my poor Arabic. I had wonderful help from the patient artisans), Marketing & Markets (Anne Richardson & Leslie Andrus), Costing & Pricing (Amina Yarbis, an artisan conducted this one. It is always encouraging to see the Moroccans passing on knowledge they've gained: sustainability!)

The Agdz Neddi Tent LtoR: My host mother (Lakibira), Saida, Me, Arquia, Zurha

Anne Richardson giving Bruce Cohen and the Governor a tour of her Errachidia tent.

Arquia (from Midelt) huddled among the Zagora Traditional Dancers, sporting a new Sahara wrap.

Happy artisans waiting to fill their bellies at our hotel.

Bruce Cohen, The Zagora Province Governor, Malainine, Me and Hafida Ben Mammas (who made the hammock behind us) in our tent.

It was six days of hard work (plus months prep), but worth it.