To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Growing up southern, I’d hear my Mama Sargeant and Grandaddy say when they greeted the grandkids : “Give me some sugar.” A couple of weeks ago, I exchanged eighty-eight kisses Moroccan- style, one on each cheek, with forty-four sweet girls as they excitedly entered the Project SOAR gates as they do every Sunday during the school year. My students and other volunteers were all smiles and laughs, too.
Last week the last session ended the season for summer break, but sadly, for me, it was another marker of the end of my season in Morocco. Lord willing, or as Moroccans say, Inshallah, I will be teaching students in the Caribbean when Project SOAR resumes in the fall. I will miss the girls, my students who love working with them, and the wonderful people who started and sustain Project SOAR. I am forever grateful for the hospitality shown to me by Maryam and Chris and the opportunities to teach their son, Tristan, and to serve Douar Ladaam girls. I believe in Project SOAR’s mission to “empower underserved Moroccan girls through art, sports, and health education…(and to) help keep girls in school, breaking the cycle of girl marriages and early motherhood, and preparing girls to have productive and fulfilled futures.”
From afar I will continue to invite others to get involved in person or through financial support. Though it is time to be nearer my family and leave Morocco, a country I have come to love the last two years, I will carry this place, these people forever with me in my heart.
Last winter students Abla, Najma, and Kenza also volunteered with me. Project SOAR was chosen to pilot the Be Girl program in Morocco–the first Muslim country that is keeping girls in school by providing them with a hygienic, eco-friendly, vital product.
Volunteering with the girls of Project Soar has been good for students of The American School of Marrakesh as well. They love laughing and playing with the girls. Below, they demonstrated ballet moves and then asked the girls to strike a pose. I am so thankful for their beauty, innocence, and enthusiasm.
Memories Made at Project SOAR: