Wafae took me to her house, walking arm in arm up the hill and past her mosque, to a home that opened first onto a room of weaving looms and dried plants where natural dyeing experiments were bubbling. After a few demonstrations, she took me upstairs to the living quarters where she shared a home with her husband, his parents, and his brother. In her room, Wafae pulled out a picture of her 5 year son, Ali, with such love and tenderness, I could feel his joy leap from the image.
Wafae's mother died when she was young. Her mother in law, Amina, has taught her confidence and conviction, strength in herself and her limitless possibilities. She works with Amina organizing 13 women in Sefrou to embroider and construct jackets for you. She is finishing her degree at the University of Fez in English Literature. And she just brought into the world her second son, Taha. Wafae is 26 and unstoppable.
This is the new family of Morocco.
There are men throughout the Arab world being brought up in fear and fed with loathing. There are women who still have no access to resources or jobs or any semblance of respect. But then there is this small living room where I am sitting, talking with Wafae's father-in-law, a gentle school teacher educating girls and boys. Her mother-in-law, a fierce activist and organizer training women in skills and knowledge, and her brother-in-law, who is struggling to find his place in this home where women matter, education is non-negotiable, and respect is the currency of life.
We sit at the table and pour over my order for Ibu, clarify details and payments. Wafae interprets her mother-in-law's rapid fire French. As we negotiate, I keep thinking about Wafae's words as we climbed the hill together. I believe women can do anything. I don't want to hold back. Not anything. I want to be everything I can be.
All I know is that Taha and Ali are growing up in this living room with this fearless woman raising them into respect for all. And with a grandmother who will not brook any slight toward women. And a father and grandfather who will show them the way to be a he-bu, with the strength and courage to be kind.
This is where change begins, is it not? In the living room. With the daily layering of respect. With boys learning how to love and girls learning how to dream. It is my joy to watch this family grow, even as Wafae and Amina, through Ibu, give work and income to 13 women.
I am more than honored to work with these fierce women. And to receive the occasional pictures of Ali and Taha, growing in the shade of this great love.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker