Lauren in Morocco

This Blog has no direct association with the Peace Corps.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

This week, September 11th-15th a Traditional Birth Attendant training was held at my site. I was fortunate in the fact that I didn’t have to apply for any sort of funding or grants and this project was organized by the delegate. The training was held mainly for women in the area who have already attended a TBA training or for those looking to obtain the information. I d attended the session, so that I could meet the women involved and follow up on their progress, as well as involve myself in health lessons. Fifteen women were scheduled to attend, however only 9-10 attended the first day and the number gradually increased throughout the week, along with myself and two other American volunteers, who work in the Oarzazate province.
The training was held in a mixture of Arabic and Tamazirt, the leaders of the training all work in the Oarzazate region. In attendance was the Medicine Chef of Kelaa Mgouna, one nurse from the sbitar in Kelaa Mgouna, a Stage-fem, and one worker from Bio-diversity. Four volunteers that are from the previous stage od 2005 are planning on hosting TBA trainings at their sites and the trainings will be held in the same format. The volunteers are not actually conducting the lessons, they will have nurses and doctors from their larger sbitars hold the lessons. The women who attended the session were given lunch and a small stipend. The men did conduct most of the sessions, however for the hand-on type sessions, the stage-fem and the female from bio-diversity conducted the sessions and the men left the room. In many of the lessons the volunteers (myself, Christie, and Dana) were allowed to give lessons and we viewed as leaders to the women. For certain TBA trainings, finding women to attend is difficult because of fear of interacting with men and talking about such private topics. One day the lesson also ventured toward health lessons and we discussed washing of hands and brushing of teeth, this was beneficial because the volunteers were able to give a quasi-health lesson. On Wednesday, the birthing process was discussed and following this lesson family planning was a major lesson. Family planning is one topic I would like to talk to women about so I was glad we were able to speak in this lesson. Many women don’t understand birth-control pills or IUDs and have five or more children. Of the women in the room, most had between 4-8 children and all reported at least one child dead, but the average number for children the women had lost was around 3. One woman in the room had eleven children, but 5 had died during child-birth or during the first year of life. In general women in very rural, developing nations have no notion of family planning. The spacing of children and the number of desired children was discussed. The women were also taught that birth control should be taken everyday, because most women feel that they only have to take it from time to time and this is solely because of lack of education. The most popular form of birth-control is the form taken while breast-feeding, because typically only married women ask for birth control at the sbitar, anyone not married normally wouldn’t ask for birth-control because it would be considered “hshuma.”
I feel that the TBA trainings are a necessity because of the obvious lack of knowledge and information available for these women. One woman commented that a woman is normally pregnant for around 11 months to a year and this woman had no idea that the actual estimated time for a pregnancy is 9 months. All of the women involved were oblivious to the fact that going to the hospital for birthing is free. The training included prenatal as well as post natal care and all sessions were accompanied by some sort of visual aid or flip chart. Most of the women involved never attended college or school past five years, so the sessions were all about an hour and fifteen minutes long, with a tea break or lunch in between. This was to maximize the amount of time the women listened and to get the full attention span of all attending women.

Sent to Volunteers on my Gender and Development meeting
GAD minutes
During the GAD session in Rabat, the primary focus was the compilation of a new resource book and added information for the GLOW book. We feel that not enough resources are available to volunteers, and gender and development is a major issue in Morocco. Quoting an attendant of a previous leadership conference “Morocco is becoming an example to the entire Arab world concerning women and development.” New elections were held and there is a new position for a person to compose the GAD resource manual. The Global Rights group was visited and new information was gathered for the book. This will be an on-going process, but any suggestions as to resources about gender in Morocco, are welcome. Statistics are one subject of research, because we feel this a common request from volunteers. If any information is needed contact GAD or the library in Rabat for GLOW camp information, the current resource manual, or current copies of the Moudawana.
IST as well as PST trainings were discussed.


My peace corps experience in numbers
7 is the number of months I’ve been in country, 4 months since swear in. 25 volunteers started out in our health stage and now 2 our gone. 24 started in the 2005 health stage and now 9 remain. 2 is the number of host families I’ve had in country with 9 children in total.
3 projects have been completed, 2 health lessons, with 4 major project ideas.
21 is our youngest volunteer and 69 is our oldest volunteer. 4 other health volunteers are in my region and 4 our female. My closest health volunteer is 3 hours away and my post office is 2 hours away. I’ve seen 10 cities since I’ve been in country and lived in two. I’ve lived with a host family for 5 months and its been 5 months since I’ve slept on a bed. I’ve watched 2 hrs of TV in this country and read 57 books. I’ve climbed 3 mountains ranging from 2000 meters to 3000 meters. I’ve had 5 taxis break down and I’ve had 4 people get car sick…on me. The second highest mountain in Morocco is 4000 meters and it is a 20 minute walk from my site. I’ve visited 20 of my 50 villages and lived in 2. I’ve had 4 cases of Giardia and lost 15 pounds in the process. I consumed 4 chesses burgers to regain the weight and I’ve eaten at Mcdonalds 4 times in country. I can speak 2 languages native to Morocco, moderately well and I am learning a third…French. I’ve had one GAD meeting and attended one SIDA training. I’ve had scabies 1 time and I currently have 15 mosquito bites and 10 flea bites on my feet. I’ve eaten goat brain 3 times….and couscous, bread, and tajine over 100 times. 3 is the number of cups of tea/coffee I drink a day and 9 is the max. I’ve been to 3 weddings, one funeral, and 3 village celebrations. I have IST in 2 months and will have been in country one year in about 5 months. I see other volunteers once or twice a month, but it is difficult as my closest volunteer is over 2 hours away. I left 1 amazing family in American and several Amazing friends from my 1 university. My first friend from college is getting married next week and my younger brother is in his second year of college. I will experience Moroccan/Islamic holiday number 3 starting tomorrow.