July 23, 2009
Kathleen M. Snoddon recently returned from Morocco where she was able to witness microfinance first-hand. This is the final entry in a five-part blog series about her journeys.
Having left Baiya’s with apologies for not being able to stay longer, we approached our original meeting place and could see our companions gathered and waiting our arrival. It was hot and they were both exhilarated and spent by the activities and encounters of the last several hours. I wanted to stay longer. I wanted to spend time with each and every woman who had made the effort to forge a future for themselves and their families. I wanted to hear what their aspirations were for themselves and their children.
Before we reached our destination we were stopped by two more women, Aicha was sitting on a mat outside her dwelling, cleaning the wool that she sold to the carpet makers. Rashya ran up to us with the brown men’s trousers she had made and explained that she wanted to be able to sell them in more distant markets but did not have the ability to transport them and she asked for advice.
With each of the women we met, it seemed that the first priorities with their income were to improve their living conditions and educate their children. Although primary education in Morocco is free, the expense of transporting the children to the schools from the rural village, feeding them and purchasing the school supplies is prohibitive. Priority is always given to the male children and most families cannot provide beyond primary school. One woman, Samira, bragged that her daughter was now attending University with the money she had been able to save.
Our group had finally reassembled; we hiked down the trail to the nearest road where our bus was waiting to take us back to Fez. We would spend many hours during the rest of our visit in Morocco recounting our visit, exchanging the stories of the people we met, the things we saw and discussing microfinance – how and why it works and our desire that millions more will have the opportunity to accomplish what these women were able to accomplish with a small loan, courage, hard work and a desire for something better for themselves and their families.