Women’s Day (March 8) has passed with lots to look back on. The women in the association of my village organized an afternoon of activities including competitions, poems, and a chance to showcase to the community their embroidery work. I got a chance to read a Rupi Kaur poem about women’s strength in Arabic in front of over 60 women. My host siblings and I made a video reportage for my host mom about why she is so special to us and surprised her with a new outfit, pizza, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. But one student wrote some words that I want to share. This essay is in the running for a competition hosted by the U.S. Embassy and the Olive Writers Program in Morocco, a creative writing program for young writers in Morocco. I sent along the call for applications and a few days later, I received a Whatsapp message from a boy named Abdennour with this included:
Iron Women, Strong Women, Pretty Women
By Abdennour Alouach
Iron Women, Strong Women, Pretty Women, Ambitious… All are descriptions of a mother struggling to prove herself, fighting time for her family, for their happiness and success and everything good about them. But no one knows the suffering and sacrifice she endured to become what she is now. Many women embody these descriptions, but this one happens to be my mother.
She is not famous in the world, in any field or in her community. She didn’t write a book summarizing her life to appear on television or tell her story to gain self-satisfaction from others. She owns a family, maybe a bit big to recognize her efforts. In 1971, Khadija Daoudi was born in a rural village called Talmest of a father working as a merchant and mother of a housewife. She was the eldest daughter and after one year she had a brother. After reaching the age of going to school, she didn’t go like the other girls the same age as her because she had to help her mother with the housework and raising her brothers, which in turn still need nurturing. The years go by and she has not gone to school but is taking on great responsibility for herself. This was the situation for years. Every day her brothers waited until they came back from school, to then take a book and make the most of it; looking and thinking about its content and story. My mom, too, was there, seeing the words but not understanding a thing.
When she was 16 years old, like when all the other girls in the town reach the same age, her parents saw her as a grown up women who must marry, just waiting for a suitable husband. But my mother took another way. She started selling the seeds of Argan, raising chickens to then sell their eggs, and after a whiles time she started to form herself. She became apart of the community along with other people and learned some new life lessons. She completed what she was, at the same time staying involved in her family. She worked with her parents but didn’t ask for money from them. Not looking too much at the business of it all, she began to think about her own life; buy clothes, jewelry, and even traditional beauty products. More important than this though was thinking about marriage and starting a family. It didn’t take much time, but she married her cousin who was a working teacher and he taught her some reading and writing. Then she made a promise to teach her children and raise them to have the best education she could give them.
Seeing as though my mother has not studied in her life, she is very careful and motivated to teach us because of the fact that she couldn’t achieve her dreams due to her family circumstances. She is able to influence my thoughts with her own charm and convince me that education is a human need to live a normal life. It is the food of life; it is the highest human experience to deal with the situations you encounter. She encourages us to seek knowledge for self-development so that I communicate with others and exchange information with different foreign cultures. She helps us to discover everything new like when we visit new places, search for information, read stories and scientific books. Sometimes more difficult at times, she supports us financially and morally to achieve our goals and ambitions by seizing the opportunities offered by life.
She recommends us to stick to our values; the values we have learned from her wisdom. To be honest with everyone in our actions and words, do charity and support those in need, and help people, especially children, to learn and fight ignorance to let us improve and develop our society.
My mother remains a strong symbol of women in my mind. She is my role model. There she is, put right in front of me by the Earth, to work on developing myself to a great extent. I have and will become someone of great standing thanks to ideas inspired by a woman, perhaps this iron, strong, pretty, ambitious mother, who is proof of the saying “women are half of society”.