Travel for 10 hours from Agadir, past Taznaght, into the remote Atlas Mountain villages. Zig-Zag the rocky serpentines, cross herds of sheep, get speechless by bare, stunning sceneries. And if you are lucky, you arrive without your car breaking down, before dark.
But be sure, that when you take all the effort to make it here, you will be received like a king. With a big smile, a warm blanket, some almonds, dates, a hot tea and a massive meat tagine together with homemade bread.
Life in Morocco
Morocco is a modern country, you can find the fastest trains and shopping malls, but the majority of people are still living from hand to mouth.
With the lack of tourism, a lot of families don’t know how to feed these mouths anymore. We are living in a dependent world and through the crisis, we can see how far this dependency reaches out. Even behind the furthest away mountains. Because if there is no one to buy your carpets, how do you pay your electricity or hospital bills or send your kids to school?
I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived. I only knew we were going to stay with a friend’s family and learn all about theirs and the communities work – the art of carpet making. Arriving here was like a throwback 100 years in time. The family still living their traditions. Or better to say that the three villages we visited seem to do nothing else. Men guarding sheep, women, cleaning and colouring the wool, weaving carpets, making bread, cooking, taking care of the children…
And at the same time, the modern world hit these villages too. Through the young boys, who try and find their luck working in the souk of Marrakech, bringing back smartphones and televisions to their families.
With which, like all over the world, more needs and wishes grow.
See and feel
Imagine you wake up your whole life to do pretty much the same thing every single day, while your television – your window into the world – is telling you about Robots, Climate change, war… and Instagram screams – life is not what YOU think.
As a woman, I slept with the girls in their room. On the floor, underneath a bunch of carpets to keep warm, from the snow outside. The smallest one of them, translating between me and the others as she is the only one, that continued going to school… because just some years ago, that wasn’t what girls needed here, so they stayed home to help.
In the eyes of the oldest, I could see building up tears, as we all watched a video of two European girls singing and playing the Ukulele in surf shorts on a beach, while she was trying never to smile and speak without showing her broken teeth. How much I felt her fighting her jealousy towards her smallest sister, when the tiny one was all over me, explaining things and asking questions.
Whenever I could I embraced all of them. But especially this young, pretty, smart girl, torn between acceptance of her life and secret dreams. Just because I felt so much love, so much respect towards her, her life, her whole family.
Learning from the locals
In the days I spent with the family I learned a lot. I spent my time with the girls and their mother who was always busy from her morning prayer until night, continually running food and the family. I met grandma Fatma, who makes carpets ever since she was a child herself and now teaches the young girls. I never saw a happier face, full of satisfaction.
While I was wondering where she finds all this inspiration to make the craziest, coolest carpet designs. I spend time documenting the women colouring the wool with natural ingredients. Once again as I was the only one of our group allowed to be so close to film their faces. I can’t express how touched I was for the respect and trust they put in me, just because we share the same gender. In Europe, I hardly ever felt this deep connection to other women just because we are women.
I hiked with the men through the mountains and saw where they hide from the wind and cold with the sheep. They showed us their second home behind the hills. Three empty villages waiting for the season to change. And for the inhabitants to return. Cause this is what they are going to do, move three villages with every season.
In these days my decision deepened more than ever: to carry our Dihiya Inspired vision out there:
To support local families – opening them their own window to the world. By putting their art out onto the global market. Giving them the chance to make money
- To be able to feed hungry mouths
- to be able to pay for doctors
- pay school and even university
- for the younger generation to have a chance to be whoever they want to be. To go wherever they want to go or to simply be able to stay keeping their culture and tradition alive without suffering.
What you can do?
Buy a carpet from us and support these families for an open future.
To simply give them the chance to have a choice.