AS PART OF MY SOCIAL MISSION I TRAVEL ALL THE WAY IN THE SOUTH OF MOROCCO TO THE ARGAN LAND
During the summer break, when I go back home to France and Morocco, I always include work in my vacation program.
I have to admit that I do have the best job ever when I can enjoy this type of lifestyle: traveling, seeing my family, meeting my suppliers and giving back as part of my social mission to empower women.
My first stop was at the women’s cooperative in Arazane (60 miles south of Agadir) which is always an adventure to reach. I don’t like to drive in Morocco that much unless I really have to. And driving in or out of Casablanca is a nightmare. So I usually take CTM bus (like Greyhound) which is very useful, inexpensive and reliable.
A bus trip from Casablanca to Agadir is about 7-8 hours.
Then I rent a car in Agadir from a friend that owns an agency (BAMOUS) to go to Arazane because I have no other choices.
Arazane is a tiny village south of Agadir, between Taroudant and Taliouine (that’s where the Moroccan saffron is produced -on my natural beauty bucket list). My assistant Mouna and I made sure to stop in Taroudant to get treats for all the kids and fruits for the women.
Taroudant is a small town that resembles Marrakech. This time I had to check out their souk (market) and it wasn’t disappointing. The selection of antique crafts was fascinating and I fell in love with a rare bead necklace that reminded me of the bead bracelets my grandmother used to make. I didn’t get a chance to fully explore the town and the souk but I will be back with more time for this city (and that necklace).
AN EMOTIONAL WELCOME FROM THE WOMEN AT COOPERATIVE TIRIZITE
We were welcomed with songs by the Berber women and I immediately forgot about all the travel hassle to get there.
That’s the part that gets me very emotional each time. With their songs they share their happiness to see us, they welcome us from our long journey and they express their gratitude for our generosity.
WE SHARED A DELICIOUS LUNCH MADE WITH INGREDIENTS GROWN AND PRODUCED LOCALLY BY THE BERBER WOMEN
We always get treated to the most delicious meal that we shared together while catching up.
The lamb in tagine was so tasty and tender. The whole-grain couscous, made by the women at the cooperative, with fresh vegetables was amazing.
Of course, it was too much for lunch but trust me it is impossible to resist a meal like that made with love.
LOTS OF PROGRESS MADE BY THE COOPERATIVE BUT IT IS STILL HARD TO PRODUCE ARGAN OIL
The women produce culinary and cosmetic Argan oil at the cooperative. They also were trained to create other beauty products with their Moroccan Argan oil and other natural ingredients found locally. After several years they got to expand their product selection.
With the help of the Moroccan government, the cooperative made lots of renovations inside their facility since the department of health visit two years ago.
The president, Latifa Ait Abbou, attended many educational workshops and participated in several fairs (even overseas).
We had the opportunity to see her and other cooperatives at “Les Produits du Terroir” fair (Local Products & Produce) in Agadir. Saffron, honey, dates, walnuts, almonds, Argan oil (culinary & cosmetic), goat cheese, camel milk, and prickly pear products (prickly pear seed oil, jam, flour, nopal pickles) were presented to us and we got to taste everything. I bought a Rose Saffron flower hydrosol toner that I am testing and you might see it in KENZA “be generously beautiful”™ line soon.
All of these initiatives helped them to distribute their products to specialty local stores, markets, and even get clients overseas.
All the women are wearing a blouse and cap while cracking the Argan nuts now, but they are still sitting on the floor all day to do this work.
I sat there for less than an hour and my back started to hurt, my feet were numb and my hips were sore.
Watch as I tried to crack the Argan nuts again. The women were cheering me on and giving me a few tips but it was really hard. I managed to crack a tiny one and hurt my fingers many times.
They laughed at me a little bit and it was their humble way to show me that their job wasn’t easy. I knew since the first time I met them in 2012 that their life was hard and I admire their courage for stepping out of their home to do this type of work.
Don’t get me wrong even if it is a hard job they are very proud to be able to provide for their family, their community, to gain financial independence, to get empowered by other women around them, to get an education, and most importantly be confident in themselves.
This initiative led by the Moroccan government to develop and improve the lives of women in rural areas is a success overall. But there is always more that can be done and it often has to come from larger corporations or private organizations with major funds.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE AN IMPACT ON SOCIAL CHANGE FOR WOMEN
As a small social enterprise, our modest contributions are just providing a small but encouraging boost for these women to continue their work. It makes me proud to be part of the evolution of their social status even if it is a small one but I believe that small contributions from many sources can lead to great change.
That’s our vision and we’ll keep doing our part until we can do even more in Morocco, The United States and around the globe.
The women and I want to thank each one of you for your generosity all these years. We are grateful to have your partnership in our social mission.
When you purchase our KENZA “be generously beautiful”™ beauty products you are helping to change lives for women.
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