Laura McAdams

Laura McAdams (Ain Leuh Weavers Cooperative): Laura earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Washington State University. After university, she studied abroad in Southern Spain, where she developed an interest in Arab culture and visited Morocco for the first time. Laura returned to Morocco as a Fulbright scholar where she spent 14 months. She then went to Morocco as an AP Fellow. After her fellowship, Laura wrote: "The cooperative has a strong core group of committed women. They are passionate about their work, are open to change, and care about the success of the business. They welcomed me from the moment I met them and made me feel comfortable at the cooperative. I was able to gain a practical understanding of what it means to work in development in Morocco; the challenges, the rewards, the best way to get things done.”


11 Aug

I leave Ain Leuh tomorrow. After eight weeks in Morocco, my time in the field as a Peace Fellow with The Advocacy Project is over.

My role in Ain Leuh was to facilitate online purchases and to generate interest in the cooperative’s work. I also aimed to lay the groundwork for future volunteers through The Advocacy Project.

To facilitate online purchases, I overhauled the existing website and provided basic computer literacy training. The site includes translations into Arabic, French, German and Spanish, and now features a photo and description of each full-time artisan, their products, a form to place orders and will include a short video of their processes.

To generate interest in the cooperative’s work, I created content on the cooperative in a number of different places. Be sure to check out their Facebook pageFlickr site, and short videos (available once I return home and have high-speed internet again!).

The artisans of the cooperative also were excited to participate in creating an Advocacy Quilt. Ten women produced a panel featuring traditional Amazigh design motifs. The panels will be connected by a quilting guild in the United States to create one large tapestry for a three-month exhibition at the Human Rights Institute at Kean University, New Jersey with other Advocacy Quilts from around the world.

This summer has been one of great personal growth. I’ve learned how to shoot and edit simple videos and photos, update a website, and utilize social networking sites like Facebook and twitter for a cause.

More than this, though, I’ve come to understand more about Moroccan Amazigh culture. Throughout my volunteer period, I lived with Khadija Oujkak, the cooperative’s treasurer. I am thankful to her for her patience and willingness to share with me her immense body of knowledge. She introduced me to each woman at the cooperative and made sure I was completely involved in the cooperative’s activities.

Thanks to her and the women of the cooperative, I was able to improve my Moroccan dialect, learn some key Tamazight words, understand the importance of weavings to Amazigh culture and document traditional motifs used in Amazigh weavings.

I was invited into their homes and they shared their lives with me. I met their husbands, children, and in many cases, their extended families. I broke the Ramdan fast with them, celebrated a birth and a circumcision, mourned at a funeral, attended a birthday party and countless lunches. Each day I spent at the cooperative felt like time spen with friends as I got to know them and understand what was important to them.

Thank you so much to each woman of the Cooperative des Tisseuses d’Ain Leuh for their support and patience, and for welcoming me in as a part of the family.


Posted By Laura McAdams

Posted Aug 11th, 2012

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