30.10.07

Human Dignity

One of the biggest things I hate when it comes to travelling outside of the Western world is seeing the poverty people face on a daily basis. In a world where there is so much wealth I find it amazing that individuals still are starving or suffering. It just doesn't make sense. I wish I could give to everyone but we have been constantly told on the trips we have made to be careful who we give to and how because it encourages children skipping school, buying sweets or even more unemployment, etc. So when we were told in Morocco about one individual we could actually help James and I jumped at the chance to make a difference.

Morocco has only a 50% literacy rate. You see many children younger than 15 herding sheep, working in the fields or even serving in cafe's. Every few steps you take you consistently get the 'open palm' begging for a few dirham. Loads try to sell items in shops but with 20 others on the same block selling exactly the same thing, times can become rough. Imagine trying to conquer this inevitable poverty if you were disabled!

In Essaouira we were told about a chap (I can't remember his name unfortunately) who has severe spina bifida which confined him to a wheelchair and is quite disabled because of it. Instead of begging or ending up in an institution he learned how to paint using his mouth and 365 days a year (including Ramadan--a month long period of fasting during the day) paints in the main square. He uses a tray on his wheel chair as a display and with the money he earns from painting he supports himself, his mother and I believe his sister as well.

No matter who you are, you want the dignity and the basic right of being able to provide for yourself. I was so inspired by his determination to overcome any odds to be able to do this. We just had to help him for this reason so we bought three of his small paintings (see below) and gave him extra. The extra was nothing to us (about £6) but was probably double of what he would have made in a week (the average Moroccan makes approximately $3.00 a week). No wonder why his smile was so big with our purchase!

It really is not about the money but about changing someone's life and giving them the self respect and dignity to continue. Although we just chatted to this chap for a minute it is one of the moments I'll remember from my trip the most! It felt so great to make a difference even when I was on holiday!

Here are the paintings:


my favorite-- I love the colors!


3 comments:

enickel said...

I LOVE that art! My aunt learned to paint the same way as she got sick. It is so beautiful and the colors are gorgeous.

sherrie said...

that's really neat. glad you were able to help support him. i think it's hard enough to paint with your hands. good for him.

Elizabeth C said...

What an inspiring story Christine!! It almost made me cry!! Thank you for sharing your amazing thoughts and experiences, I love to read them.