Usually, I content myself with wishing everyone a happy month of Ramadan and proceeding to other matters. This time, living in the medina of Tangier and observing the month of Ramadan as respectfully as a non-Muslim can, I want to carry it a step further. Which is why we carried out a Big Clean of the street that runs through the American Legation, home of TALIM.
That high-pressure hose that Abdallah is wielding on the left is a Karcher®, the wonderful French gadget that President Sarkozy managed to turn into a household word. Abdallah's brother Ahmed has scrubbed away something unmentionable, hence the brand new rubber boots versus the usual sandals. Ramadan or not, street people still view the pedestrian walkway as a convenient open-air toilet.
None of this would do for our traditional distribution of tickets for a Ramadan food hamper, done in association with two Moroccan charities, FTAM (Fondation Tanger Al-Medina) and Fès-Saiss, a group of philanthropists with roots in the ancient city of Fez.
Thanks to the organizational skills of FTAM President Adil Alaoui (photo, with Ramadan food hamper tickets), TALIM was host to today's Ramadan distribution. From earlier, unhappier experiences of mass confusion when the actual food parcels were distributed from our streetside door, the presentation of a card to each family has been deemed to be the winning formula. Families are chosen for their degree of need (number of children, whether there is a father, are the parents employed? etc.), and they are notified in advance.
This longstanding tradition is well worth continuing, and is yet another manifestation of TALIM's links with its surrounding neighborhood. One of the primary helpers in organizing today's little event was Fatima Gharbaoui, mentioned in these pages before for her prodigious artistic talents. Fatima was a Women's Literacy program participant, and honed her "naive" artistic skills as part of the battery of courses on offer.
With neighbors like these women, we at TALIM feel that we're part of an effort – with FTAM and Fès-Saiss – to develop people, and not just to distribute charitable donations. Just like "motor-voter" registration in some US states, this "handout" comes with a price: you might just have to sign up to learn how to read and write, at TALIM.