How did working with SPSN Committee and the special needs community in Morocco affect your service? I appreciated my time working with the committee because I felt like it was a good opportunity to collaborate with others while working for common goals. I appreciated working with the people with special needs in my community because it was something that the people in my community needed and wanted so it was nice to be able to assist the community in fulfilling a need and providing activities and a positive atmosphere for this population and their families.
Share a favorite memory about your work with SPSN over the course of your service. I enjoyed working collaboratively with the "ramp it up" toolkit. I am hopeful that this can be a useful resource to present to future volunteers and their communities. Accessibility ramps are a great need in Morocco (and everywhere) and I hope we can assist in making buildings more accessible to the entire population.
What's next for you after Peace Corps? I am still working on figuring out my plan but I hope to go on more adventures and never stop learning and exploring.
What is something about your service you will take with you forever? I will never forget the hospitality and kindness I have encountered from Moroccans at various times throughout my service.
Where and when did the activity/project take place? A new association for youth with special needs.
How long was the project? A weekend and some follow up days
How many participants? 3 PCVs, 2 counter parts, 2 teachers, 6 students
What sort of need did you/your counterpart(s) identify and what sort of training or
activity/activities did you do in response to that need? We fulfilled community growth and bonding with the community in our project.
Will there be a continuation of the project (follow-up, annual meetings or trainings, future projects related to this project? Not necessarily. However, the teachers and counterparts have been taught how to create simple mural pieces, painting techniques, and there will be some more paintings added by the counterpart.
What was your interest and/or goal(s) for the project? To start working with the developing association and build a stronger bond between them and Peace Corps. I began teaching English classes to the women and some students there. I also, after discussing a garden project with Anthony to work on with the association, brought some seeds to make a garden. They are currently in touch with Anthony and Hakim at Peace Corps Morocco and we will work towards linking them with larger organizations and funding.
Would you deem this project/activity a success? What lessons did you learn, success stories, things you might do differently. Absolutely. Originally I was asked to paint one room for the association and therefore I was able to draw out the murals ahead of time. However, when I showed up with Kinsey, there were many students and a request for a second room to be painted on the spot. My mind went from painting a mural (zoning-out) mode to organizing the completion of a mural (managing). I was a little shocked at first but luckily I had a great counterpart, Ahmed, to help me communicate and organize a productive way to include students and teachers. Some participants stayed with me in the first room as I demonstrated how to catch an appropriate amount of paint on the brushes and mix colors. Ahmed worked with the other participants to free draw on the walls and paint. We went back over everything afterwards to touch it up. In the future I think I would work with a counterpart from the very first meeting and determine how many gloves and other supplies that we would need. Perhaps I would also do a demonstration with all the participants on how to paint and brainstorm on a mural that they would like to see so that I may better assist them in creating a matching theme (the second room had less of a flow, but it really adds to the charm and quaintness of the association).
Could this project be replicated elsewhere? Advice for future projects like yours. Absolutely. Look into your sites resources, most have droogeries (hardware/paint shops), the amount of participants interested so that there are enough supplies for everyone, and collaborate with artistic/driven counterparts to create a fun mural. Make sure that you are clear with the association about what is expected of you and be upfront about your capabilities. The more that they want to join in, the better--so perhaps painting can be done in shifts depending on the space.
Anything else you might want to add or include. It is really nice to have other knowledgeable and flexible volunteers supporting the project. Have a plan/layout, but have fun with it! Community art is a great way to bring communities together.