The Women of Tarmalit

All of a sudden the weeks seem to be flying by so fast! It’s already the end of the school week here as we are off to Marrakech tomorrow and then there are only 2 weeks left. As ambivalent as I was about coming to Morocco in the first place, it has really started to grow on me. I don’t think I will ever be able to handle this constant dry heat, but I’ve been making a lot of really great friends, enjoying my classes for the most part and have been able to explore parts of Morocco that I don’t think the average tourist gets to see.

A few days ago, an announcement went out that a trip to the small village of Tarmalit was being planned. Since I’m always up for an adventure, I signed right up, having no real idea where we were going or what we would be doing there.

Now to say Tarmalit is a village is a little bit of an overstatement. Only 10 minutes away from our fancy American-style school stands a collective of small huts and shacks put together with found pieces of wood and scrap sheets of plastic. At first glance, I didn’t think we would end up seeing anything of consequence, but after getting out of the van and heading back behind the huts we were met by the most beautiful display of handmade carpets and bags. 

The women of Tarmalit create these items in an effort to make money to send their children to school. With the help of some students at Al Akhawayn, the women are able to add tags to their items, telling their stories and the students also help to bring a few tourists to the area. It’s clear that the women get very few shoppers as they were eager to barter down any of the prices we saw in order to get us to walk away with the most amount of goods. I couldn’t resist given how cute the bags were and knowing that they had been handmade only a few yards away from where I stood. 

We were invited into one of the huts to see how the women make the carpets. Even with only one loom they are able to keep up a pretty steady production. There were a plethora of tiny children running between us. One little boy was intrigued by my camera and kept on posing for me. I even taught him how to take a few photos himself! We were served traditional tea and malawi in a neighboring hut before saying our goodbyes and heading back to school.  

It was an incredibly humbling experience to visit Tarmalit. I sometimes forget that outside my little bubble of Al Ahkawayn that I am still in Morocco which still had many third world aspects in it. These women have tried as hard as they can to connect with the outside world in order to sell their goods and provide for their families. I was impressed by their ethic and how much they care for their young children. It reminded me once again that I do really want a job someday that would allow me to help empower women like this to create not only a better life for their children but for themselves as well.