Kenza Elazkem

Kenza Elazkem was born and raised in Marrakech, Morocco. She later moved to the United States to finish high school and pursue a degree in Political Science at the University of Texas in San Antonio. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in an exchange program at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea. Kenza's interest for development started then. After completing her degree, Kenza joined the Carter Center for an internship in the field of democracy and election observation. She is currently pursuing a dual master's degree in International and Sustainable development between Hankuk University for Foreign Studies in South Korea, and the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. Kenza taught English at a rural primary school in Costa Rica and also joined a women's Capoeira collective. She is eager to learn more about the world and enjoys cooking, traveling and sharing. After the fellowship, she wrote: "The best aspect of the fellowship was to see the process of carpet making and sharing meals with the women's families. Through the fellowship, I have learned the NGO jargon in Arabic. I am also more aware of my surroundings and pay more attention to detail now." Contact: kelazkem@advocacynet.org



Do We Expect Everything For Free?

22 Oct

Do We Expect Everything For Free


Khadija Ouchkak working on her latest Hanbel

I was having tea the other day with Khadija Ouchkak, the cooperative’s treasurer, when she asked me the following question: “Why doesn’t the government build homes for people instead of just building roads?” I paused for a moment and responded that maybe it was because houses were for private usage while roads are meant to be shared by the public.

I went home for lunch and started thinking about her question. I was asking myself why Khadija saw it the responsibility of the state to provide citizens with housing. I was thinking about how much the government had already given the cooperative. When Khadija and her peers started learning the art of carpet-making, the government was the one to provide them with training. Ain Leuh Weavers Cooperative was established in 1979 with the help of the government. It provided them with the premises to work in. The cooperative received training from the government on carpet making but also on management and accounting. Training sessions are regularly held in the region. In the eighties, the young women and girls who came to learn the craft at the cooperative received a monthly allowance of food staples, namely: wheat, sugar and cooking oil. This was a government program to encourage them to come and learn the craft. This way their parents would not keep them working in the fields. Working at the cooperative meant that they would later secure an income, benefit from literacy classes and receive staple foods.  To this day, the cooperative still does not pay anything for the atelier and is exempt from taxes.

After all of this, I asked myself why Khadija had asked me that question. I also asked myself why it was that we thought so differently about the role of the state and its duty to its citizens. I grew up in an upper-class family in the city of Marrakech about 400 km southwest of Ain Leuh. My parents paid for my private education until I had reached the seventh grade when I integrated the public system. After a few years, I left Morocco to get a higher education in the United States and so on. For all those years and until today, my parents were the ones to provide for me. In my mind, I had never asked the state for anything … or maybe for some years of public schooling. And then I thought about my privilege. Yes, my PRIVILEGE. Privilege is something that we tend to forget when comparing our mindsets to others. I was privileged enough to be born and raised in a city with a booming economy relying on tourism and agriculture industry. I was privilege to be born to parents who were educated and cared very much about my education, who gave up so much so that I could achieve my dreams and are still giving.

My father works in tourism. I have known about Moroccan carpets ever since I could remember. I know they are expensive but I had no idea about how they appeared in shops in Marrakech ready to be bought by wealthy Moroccans and tourists alike. I did not know about the middle men who bought them cheaply from women like Khadija to sell them for the double or triple of the price they gave to women like Khadija.


Yarn sold at the local weekly market

I also did not take into consideration how the government, while still helping these women, had stripped their land of its economic machine when it decided to move wool production to coastal cities. Farmers in the region saw themselves obliged to sell raw wool to big factories in Casablanca, for example, who would turn into yarn in an industrial process. The farmers and women who made carpets then lost their primary material. They now had to make long trips to the economic capital to buy their wool or depend on low quality one that is available in the weekly markets. They lost the production of what makes their carpets. They also have to send their carpets to be sold in the cities. Women of the cooperative and others alike, are the main holders of carpet making knowledge, yet with the modernization of the economy makes them just another link in the production chain. I can also talk about globalization and how cheaper it is now for the average Moroccan to buy a carpet made in China in huge factories than to buy a local one that probably took a woman about two months to make, but that would be a whole new conversations.

Now I can better understand Khadija’s point of view. Since the government could take away one of their primordial money-makers, it had to provide them with some livelihood essentials.

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Do We Expect Everything For Free<\/strong><\/p>\n\n\n

\n

\n\t

\n\t\t

\"\"
\nKhadija Ouchkak working on her latest Hanbel<\/span><\/span><\/b><\/td>\n\t<\/tr>\n<\/tbody>\n<\/table>\n\n

I was having tea the other day with Khadija Ouchkak, the cooperative\u2019s treasurer, when she asked me the following question: \u201cWhy doesn\u2019t the government build homes for people instead of just building roads?\u201d I paused for a moment and responded that maybe it was because houses were for private usage while roads are meant to be shared by the public.<\/p>\n\n

I went home for lunch and started thinking about her question. I was asking myself why Khadija saw it the responsibility of the state to provide citizens with housing. I was thinking about how much the government had already given the cooperative. When Khadija and her peers started learning the art of carpet-making, the government was the one to provide them with training. Ain Leuh Weavers Cooperative was established in 1979 with the help of the government. It provided them with the premises to work in. The cooperative received training from the government on carpet making but also on management and accounting. Training sessions are regularly held in the region. In the eighties, the young women and girls who came to learn the craft at the cooperative received a monthly allowance of food staples, namely: wheat, sugar and cooking oil. This was a government program to encourage them to come and learn the craft. This way their parents would not keep them working in the fields. Working at the cooperative meant that they would later secure an income, benefit from literacy classes and receive staple foods.  To this day, the cooperative still does not pay anything for the atelier and is exempt from taxes.<\/p>\n\n

After all of this, I asked myself why Khadija had asked me that question. I also asked myself why it was that we thought so differently about the role of the state and its duty to its citizens. I grew up in an upper-class family in the city of Marrakech about 400 km southwest of Ain Leuh. My parents paid for my private education until I had reached the seventh grade when I integrated the public system. After a few years, I left Morocco to get a higher education in the United States and so on. For all those years and until today, my parents were the ones to provide for me. In my mind, I had never asked the state for anything \u2026 or maybe for some years of public schooling. And then I thought about my privilege. Yes, my PRIVILEGE. Privilege is something that we tend to forget when comparing our mindsets to others. I was privileged enough to be born and raised in a city with a booming economy relying on tourism and agriculture industry. I was privilege to be born to parents who were educated and cared very much about my education, who gave up so much so that I could achieve my dreams and are still giving.<\/p>\n\n

My father works in tourism. I have known about Moroccan carpets ever since I could remember. I know they are expensive but I had no idea about how they appeared in shops in Marrakech ready to be bought by wealthy Moroccans and tourists alike. I did not know about the middle men who bought them cheaply from women like Khadija to sell them for the double or triple of the price they gave to women like Khadija.<\/p>\n\n\n

\n

\n\t

\n\t\t

\"\"
\nYarn sold at the local weekly market<\/span><\/span><\/b><\/td>\n\t<\/tr>\n<\/tbody>\n<\/table>\n\n

I also did not take into consideration how the government, while still helping these women, had stripped their land of its economic machine when it decided to move wool production to coastal cities. Farmers in the region saw themselves obliged to sell raw wool to big factories in Casablanca, for example, who would turn into yarn in an industrial process. The farmers and women who made carpets then lost their primary material. They now had to make long trips to the economic capital to buy their wool or depend on low quality one that is available in the weekly markets. They lost the production of what makes their carpets. They also have to send their carpets to be sold in the cities. Women of the cooperative and others alike, are the main holders of carpet making knowledge, yet with the modernization of the economy makes them just another link in the production chain. I can also talk about globalization and how cheaper it is now for the average Moroccan to buy a carpet made in China in huge factories than to buy a local one that probably took a woman about two months to make, but that would be a whole new conversations.<\/p>\n\n

Now I can better understand Khadija\u2019s point of view. Since the government could take away one of their primordial money-makers, it had to provide them with some livelihood essentials.<\/p>“,”class”:””}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Kenza Elazkem

Posted Oct 22nd, 2015

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