Unsung heroes

I spent the day in Casablanca yesterday, where I met with my good friend Karim Tazi, whom I haven’t seen in nearly ten years (and I was given a fair number of guilt trips about this at dinner!) Karim’s been involved in charitable work for years, but recently he’s been spearheading a movement where non-profit organizations and associations work hand in hand with private companies and government ministries in setting projects to benefit underprivileged youths. I was particularly keen on seeing what had been done in the shanty of Sidi Moumen, whose existence many middle-class Moroccans weren’t even aware of, and where the young men who blew themselves up in the May 2003 bombings came from. One association had set up a job-training center for young women, which I visited. Another group was providing after-school programs, including art and music. There were also a number of other projects to try and promote democratic ideals (rather than just handing out help and leaving people behind. ) I wish people who spend their time talking about bringing democracy to the Arab world and who accuse Arabs of not doing enough would come see for themselves. Maybe then, instead of bombing these people into democracy, they’d roll up their sleeves and help. The enthusiasm and the dedication of the volunteers were so infectious that I found myself returning home completely inspired. I’ll have more on this in the future.