Related: June 1, 2002 - Washington Morocco Club: Several DC-based former Peace Corps Volunteers, who decades later still cherish their Moroccan friendships, experiences, and the enduring life-altering lessons learned in the cities and towns there, had a collective bright idea in early June 2002

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco : The Peace Corps in Morocco: December 6, 2003 - Houston Chronicle: Morocco RPCV Ruth Ann Skaff works with Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee : Related: June 1, 2002 - Washington Morocco Club: Several DC-based former Peace Corps Volunteers, who decades later still cherish their Moroccan friendships, experiences, and the enduring life-altering lessons learned in the cities and towns there, had a collective bright idea in early June 2002

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-24-33.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.24.33) on Sunday, December 07, 2003 - 10:46 pm: Edit Post

Several DC-based former Peace Corps Volunteers, who decades later still cherish their Moroccan friendships, experiences, and the enduring life-altering lessons learned in the cities and towns there, had a collective bright idea in early June 2002



Several DC-based former Peace Corps Volunteers, who decades later still cherish their Moroccan friendships, experiences, and the enduring life-altering lessons learned in the cities and towns there, had a collective bright idea in early June 2002

AMERICANS CONNECT TO MOROCCO
BY LINKING TO PEDIATRIC CANCER PATIENTS
BUILDING ON GOOD INTENTIONS
The Idea

Several DC-based former Peace Corps Volunteers, who decades later still cherish their Moroccan friendships, experiences, and the enduring life-altering lessons learned in the cities and towns there, had a collective bright idea in early June 2002.

In conjunction with the 40 + 1 anniversary celebrations in late June 2002 of the founding of the Peace Corps, Tim Resch, Ruth Ann Skaff and Ellen Hunt set up a bona fide “souk” or craft market at the associated World Bazaar in the Marriott Wardman Hotel in northwest Washington, DC. For two days they held court, chatted up customers, described the uses and origins of silver teapots, ceramic tajines, fossil chessboards, Fez pottery and hand woven carpets, sold, collected money, packaged the goods and made lots of friends. They were assisted by two Moroccan members of Friends of Morocco (FOM). Hassan Samrhouni and Abdessamad Nhairy staffed the booth with the intrepid trio and provided the interested public a solid understanding of the crafts being displayed. Needless to say, the Friends of Morocco booth was a significant contribution to the World Bazaar, generating a lot of traffic and sales.

The trio also did some ‘heavy lifting’. After locating and securing the authentic handicraft from a local wholesaler, recruiting additional volunteers, they also transported the merchandise, artistically displayed it, and when the “souk” closed, packed up the unsold items and returned them. Special kudos to FOM president Tim Resch who literally did most of the heavy lifting!

What motivated the accidental entrepreneurs - Tim, Ruth Ann and Ellen - was the opportunity to offer a modest humanitarian gesture for cancer-stricken children in Morocco. The $700 net proceeds from the “souk” are dedicated for the two Moroccan public health pediatric cancer centers: Service d'Hémato-oncologie Pédiatrique de l'Hôpital 20 Aôut 1953 in Casablanca and Unité d'Hémato-oncologie Pédiatrique at the Hôpital d'Enfants in Rabat.

Tim, Ruth Ann and Ellen, along with their fellow members of FOM and the National Peace Corps Association, fully subscribe to the organizations’ shared credo “to commit ourselves to serve the world we discovered”.

The Charity

Ruth Ann has first hand knowledge both of the heroic, dedicated work of the Moroccan pediatric oncologists and the pressing need for more resources to accurately diagnose and hence aggressively treat children afflicted with cancer. During her years working at the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRH) in Memphis, Tennessee, she advocated for Morocco to be included in the St. Jude Hospital International Outreach Program.

As the relationship between St. Jude Hospital and the two pediatric cancer centers developed, Ruth Ann met Professor Mhamed Harif of Casablanca and Professor Fouzia Msefer Alaoui of Rabat during their respective visiting fellowships at St. Jude Hospital in Memphis. These two remarkable physicians have dedicated their professional careers to public service, specifically in the realm of combating the scourge of childhood cancer. Ruth Ann has also visited each center during private trips to Morocco, sustained friendships with the professors, and witnessed the steady progress as a result of their initiative and the collaboration with St. Jude.

It should be noted that each doctor has established a committed, talented, volunteer fund raising organization to further aid the young patients and their families. Dr. Alaoui established L’Avenir (The Future) in Rabat, and Dr. Harif established AGIR (ACTION) in Casablanca. The scope of the two children’s cancer centers is vast. Rabat is responsible for the northern half of the country. Casablanca is responsible for the southern half of the country.
Site Visits

More bright ideas came along.

2003 marks the 40th Anniversary of Peace Corps service to Morocco. More than 4000 Americans served in Morocco during this time. A delegation of twenty former volunteers whose service spans the four decades, accompanied by friends and family, are returning to Morocco to “kick off” a year long celebration by the Peace Corps in Morocco.

“The Celebration Tour” delegation visits Morocco October 5-15, 2002. The Celebration Tour seemed the perfect opportunity for the lucky travelers to present our modest gift in person to Professors Alaoui and Harif, express our collective good wishes and admiration for their and their staffs’ dedication, and to possibly meet some of the children and parents.

Therefore on the very first day of The Tour, the delegation is going to Rabat and in the course of the Peace Corps anniversary commemorations; they will meet Dr. Alaoui and present the donation, good wishes, and many personal toys and items for the young patients.

The following morning they will visit the children’s cancer center at l’Hopital 20 Aout 1953 in Casablanca where they will tour the facility, meet staff and patients and make the same presentation of good wishes, toys and the financial donation.

Kids Helping Kids

The very best idea came from Brenda Bryant Petta, a Montessori teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota. Upon learning about FOM’s humanitarian effort on behalf of the two children’s cancer center, Brenda notified other teachers at her school, the children and their parents. With her leadership and inspiration, the students have written letters, created art work, collected art supplies and many gifts for the young Moroccan patients. Brenda is personally delivering these gifts, along with photographs of her students, and in turn, will bring photographs and news of the Moroccan children back to her students.

Many powerful lessons are being exchanged, for the youngsters and adults alike.

“It is very touching. One teacher has collected about 20 stuffed animals. …. as her students bring gifts, they keep saying, "It is the right thing to do." Her students are 1st-3rd graders. One of my little Hmong students today brought pictures that he had drawn and said, "They are for the sick children." I am so touched by such gestures. My assistant is from Iran. She also works a second job at Target, and she brought in a bag full of toys and art supplies. The teacher across the hall from me purchased 15 little stuffed animals last night. I pray that those receiving our little gifts are as blessed as those giving them seem to be. “

Brenda Bryant Petta
The next step

Childhood cancer is frightening, and all the more so in developing countries where access to proper care, sufficient medicine and sustained treatment are difficult. Today cancer need not be a death sentence; many of the common forms can be cured.

The first step is to introduce this special group of humanitarian Americans who have an enduring commitment to Morocco, and come from a vast array of professions, to the Morocco-St. Jude pediatric cancer collaboration. We sincerely hope that after this on site introduction, some of us will want to develop ways to continue supporting this important, lifesaving work.

Although $700 is a small contribution, it can be a symbolic first step to build a relationship between the Friends of Morocco (FOM), an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association, and this dynamic project.

This relationship can grow in many creative ways, limited only by our imaginations.

God willing, inshallah, this meeting is a first step for FOM, which is a 501 c 3. We have an award winning newsletter, as well as a website. Photographs and information about The Celebration Tour and all the activities will be posted.

As FOM develops a multi-faceted relationship with the Moroccan children’s cancer centers, and their fundraising organizations, L’Avenir and AGIR, we can conceivably become a model for the many other Country Affiliates of the National Peace Corps Association in those countries which also have St. Jude collaboration. The Friends of Brazil, Friends of Guatemala, Friends of Jordan, Friends of Chile come to mind.

We can strive to become an effective vehicle for volunteer support, human resources and funding for many similar projects in our Peace Corps countries to which we are so powerfully bound.

Offering our talent and commitment can help save young lives, and help us continue the spirit of Peace Corps.



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Story Source: Washington Morocco Club

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; Service; Pediatric Cancer; Cancer

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