Adventures in taxi's, visiting sights, and a long but productive day of meetings with partners is what Thursday held for us here in Rabat, Morocco. After a good night of rest at our hotel in the downtown area, we traveled by taxi to EEAM/CEI Vice President Anne Marie's home - a lovely Moroccan home overlooking the mausoleum of King Mohammed V. Our taxi's decided it would be fun to drop us in various locations so that we could play a rousing game of "Marco Polo". After our game was completed, we quickly visited the mausoleum before returning to Anne Marie's home where members of the EEAM, the Julich District of the EKIR and our KBF team met to discuss the future of our partnership as it relates to funding for 2012-2013. This was an energizing time for us we learned more about our respective congregations and the vision EEAM has for Morocco. our time concluded with the traditional Moroccan meal: couscous - tres magnifique!
The afternoon and evening including many meetings with CEI leadership and various NGO (non-governmental organizations) partners of CEI. We began by meeting the trainers for the Professional Formation Program - the third of the three emphases of CEI. The upcoming session (only the second time as they just started) will include training for auto mechanic's and carpentry/upholstery in Rabat. In Casablanca training will include clothing design, hair styling, and sewing. The trainers who are migrants (sans papier - without papers) will lead other migrants to learn a useable skill that can be utilized for basic income. The training only allows for a total of 20 people and will last for three months, meeting every Monday - Thursday for eight hour a day. Much of the funding for this project is provided through the German partnership of the Julich District of the EKIR. The training program works well because there is great desire to learn, which is the motivation for the project. Through this, people are taught to live by their own hands, a much needed skill for these people in the shadows.
In the late afternoon and evening, we meet at the office of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. There we learned about the necessary steps needed for asylum seekers to take in Morocco. We also learned that currently there are 754 recognized refugees (those within the border of Morocco legally - with papers) living in Morocco. The work of the UNCHR is crucial for human rights across the world and we are grateful for their time with us this evening. Over dinner we met with one final group - Caritas (Catholic Charities) who also partner with CEI to help provide emergency medical assistance as well as food aid, rent and a host of other services in the area. Our night was book-ended with a final fun-filled taxi ride home to our hotel.
Meeting with so many on this day who hold a common concern for our shared humanity continued to renew our hope, though it also continues to raise questions for us as to how we must continue to enter into the stories of others here on the continent of Africa. We must find ways to be bold and to encourage ourselves find solutions together for refugees and migrants in Morocco, in the US, and for the rest of our world.