Thank you again to everyone who donated in December and January to the grant/project to help build the capacity of the clubs at the youth center!
Before we finished fundraising, in early January, my counterpart Souhaib started the Peace Corps and USAID Life Skills and Leadership program (we had attended a facilitator’s training in October) and the chess and ping-pong clubs also restarted with limited materials and supplies.
I think the Life Skills program is so beneficial. I remember adolescence as a tough time and Life Skills program gives teenagers lots of tools to understand themselves and others and develop positivity in the face of challenges. It also teaches them methods of planning for the future. The Life Skills program was extremely successful. There was a huge interest in the program and over 30 participants benefited from it. Souhaib did an excellent job leading the program. He is a truly kind and patient leader. He made sure all the participants felt comfortable sharing in get-to-know-you sessions and team building activities and ground rules. The Units and Sessions are listed below:
Unit 1: Personal Development
Session 1: Me and My Assets
Session 2: Stages of Adolescence
Session 3: Building Self-Confidence
Session 4: Choosing Positive Values
Session 5: Understanding Mental Models
Session 6: Stress and Emotions
Session 7: Surviving Tough Times
Unit 2: Interpersonal Development
Session 1: Active Listening
Session 2: Positive Communication
Session 3: Making Decisions
Session 4: Creative Ideas
Session 5: Negative to Positive
Session 6: Solving Problems
Session 7: Looking at Conflict
Session 8: Collaboration
Unit 3: Goal Setting and Action Planning
Session 1: Goal Setting, the Basics
Session 2: SMART Goals
Session 3: Steps for Action
Session 4: Setting Priorities, Managing Time
Unit 4: Teamwork and Leadership
Session 1: What is a leader?
Session 2: Team Leadership
Session 3: My Leadership Role
Session 4: The Project Cycle
Session 5: Our Project
Session 6: Celebration and Reflection
18 students received a certificate of participation for the Life Skills program from the Peace Corps.
In February, the Director of the Youth Center, other volunteers, and I were busy purchasing the materials and supplies and equipment in Marrakesh. The community provided transport to and from the stores and supermarkets. Then we organized the new resources with the other materials and supplies and equipment in the Youth Center. The youth center looks nice and neat now.
In March we were hoping to have the opening event with the club presidents though it was a very busy month at the Youth Center with a big theatre festival so we weren’t able to hold it until April. The meeting went wonderfully. All current club presidents and members attended and we discussed the need to build life and leadership skills and help youth adopt healthy lifestyles because they are necessary for life and employment and are not taught in school. The presidents of the chess club and ping-pong club, the most active clubs at the youth center, presented strategies on organizing activities and events. Everyone shared ideas about how to engage youth. The Director and I offered to help them in any way that we could.
After the meeting, clubs met to organize events and a new library club and film club were also formed! Not many kids have attended the chess and ping-pong club activities because it is the end of the year and people are busy studying and taking final exams. Also most parents don’t like the idea of their kids, especially girls, going to the youth center to hang out. They do support their kids attending English or Spanish, Life Skills, or computer classes, where they receive a certificate to add to their resume/CV.
During Ramadan (the holiest month of the year for Muslims during which they fast from sun up to sun down and renew their faith to God), which started on June 6, the sports club is holding a soccer tournament for boys and men at night, after the breaking of the fast and special Ramadan prayers.
I am also working closely with the library club on cataloguing the books and making a plan for the coming year. Earlier this year, I secured donations of French and English books from a big PC grant with Books for Africa, the Peace Corps library in Rabat, and the American school of Rabat, but Arabic books are harder to find. We’re hopefully attending a Peace Corps Library training in July to learn more about organizing and maintaining a library in Morocco, get ideas on literacy programs, etc.
I’m happy with how the grant/project has turned out so far. Programming at the Youth Center has definitely increased since we received the new resources. The chess, ping-pong, sports, and library clubs are now working but some are more active than others. We have some new volunteers leading these clubs, which I hope encourages others to volunteer at the Youth Center. The project has helped the Youth Center to become more organized. It feels terrific to observe progress. Each season is different though. For example, Ramadan is slow because it is a time for worship and family and not as much for work and play.
In the fall, we will see how the clubs develop. I am planning more formal workshops on club creation and sustainability with the Director of the Youth Center including project design and management tools and some general life skills sessions like leadership, teamwork, and communication. I think this will help to motivate the club presidents more to make clear goals and objectives for the clubs, hold productive meetings, and plan successful activities and events.
Thank you again to all the generous donors! As you can see through this update, you have made a huge difference in the youth center and the lives of youth in my town and I am extremely grateful. I will write another update in the fall.