Rachida was born in a rural Moroccan village, Ain Jdid, in 1973. She is married and
has four children. Her husband is a seasonal agricultural worker who earns about 700
dhs per month when he works.
When an aid organisation offered literacy classes in her village, Rachida immediately
recognised that an excellent opportunity was suddenly offered to her. The class signalled
a new beginning for Rachida — if she took classes, she would be able to read and write, add and subtract, and acquire skills that were always reserved for others. When she first learnt how to write her name on a slate, and then on paper, she was overjoyed. Although Rachida and her classmates were laughed at by some villagers a they walked to school each day, they ignored them and were proud of their accomplishment.
The course went a step beyond providing basic literacy training to the women of Ain Jdid. Those who performed the best on the final exam were also offered support in setting up a business- a farm animal cooperative. Armed with their newly acquired numeracy and literacy skills, and with technical assistance from the organisation, they started a successful business. Their example gave rural women a new image -that of independent female entrepreneurs who could manage their own businesses. They were no longer field workers. Rachida now buys and sells farm animals through the cooperative and earns enough income to support her family. More importantly, she can share the joy of learning with her school-aged children and help them with their homework. She is confident about the future. She says her new skills have given her more than just an income. “Through this programme, women have paved the way to a new life,” she said.
As a proof to the programme’s success, now even some of the men in the village who had criticised Rachida and her classmates want to attend literacy classes.