History of the Peace Corps in Morocco
Morocco was among the first countries to invite the Peace Corps to assist in its development process. A group of 53 surveyors, English teachers, and irrigation supervisors arrived in Morocco in 1963 at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Since then, more than 3,800 Volunteers have served in the Kingdom of Morocco in areas such as lab technology, urban development, home economics, commercial development, education of the blind and deaf, rural water supply, vocational education, maternal child health, natural resources management, youth development, marine and inland fisheries, small business development, sports, beekeeping, architecture, and English language training.
History of the start of Peace Corps in Morocco
On May 2, 1962, the Peace Corps sent Lawrence Williams to Rabat, the capital city of independent Morocco. Williams, then operations officer for French-speaking Africa, joined in discussions which soon led to Peace Corps programs in three countries of West Africa- Morocco, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. These discussions were comparatively brief - a sign that in its second year the Peace Corps was becoming an established institution around the world. In mid-June, Williams went to the Ivory Coast for two weeks, returned briefly to Rabat, and on June 29, took off for Dakar in Senegal. By July 8, he was back in Washington.
The program in Morocco called for English teachers and rural community action workers where the emphasis was on surveying and irrigation. The 56 Volunteers who were to carry out this program went into training at California State Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo on October 12, 1962. They arrived in Rabat on February 12, 1963. On hand to greet them was Deputy Representative Reuben Simmons, who had moved to Morocco less than a month before from his job as Deputy Representative in Tunisia.
Simmons was then serving as Acting Representative in Morocco just as he had served as Acting Representative in Tunisia. The regularly assigned Representative in Morocco, Frederic Thomas, arrived in Rabat on May 7.
Fred Thomas was born in New York City. He served almost two years in the Marine Corps, as a short-wave radio operator at Camp Pendleton in California, before he entered college. In 1952, he graduated from Harvard with a degree in international relations and Middle East studies after spending a summer surveying self-help organizations in Algeria, Morocco and Tunis. Awarded a Fulbright fellowship, he enrolled for one year at the School of Oriental Studies in Cairo, Egypt, which included two months in rural parts of the Sudan where he studied local government councils. Named a Ford Foundation research scholar, he set off with his wife to live for a year in villages in Chad, the Sudan and northeast Nigeria. His studies in African focal government and the role of tribal authority resu1ted in articles such as "Juhaina Arabs of Chad," published in the Middle East Journal and the basis of a dissertation for which he received a Ph.D. from the University of London. For the next three years, he worked with the Empire Trust Company of New York City as consultant on problems involving mineral concessions in the Yemen, in the course of which he participated in negotiations with Yemeni authorities. In 1956, he became an analyst with the Mobil International Oil Company and was assigned problems concerned with foreign oil I laws concession terms and offers of land. Three years later, he transferred to the Mobil Oil Company of Canada, Ltd., and was sent to Tripoli as public relations adviser for the firm's activities in Libya. It was from Libya that he submitted his application to join the staff of the Peace Corps.
With a knowledge of French and Arabic and extensive experience in North and West Africa, Thomas became an operations officer in the Peace Corps' Office of Africa programs. He participated in 1961 in the discussions, which led to the first Peace Corps program in Tunisia. In 1962, he negotiated programs in Gabon, the Niger Republic and the Republic of the Cameroon. Named Peace Corps Representative in Morocco he arrived in Rabat on November 17 and completed preparations for the expected arrival of the first Volunteers on January 28. On December 12, he returned to Washington for consultation. Before he could get back to Rabat, he came down with hepatitis. As a consequence, Simmons was moved from Tunisia to Morocco and the overseas arrival of the Volunteers was postponed until February 11.
By May, Thomas had recovered, and he returned to Morocco to reassume his duties.
In the first three years of the Peace Corps, the agency's overseas administrators were relatively free from serious illness. However, in remote Niger, Thomas Echols was also hospitalized for hepatitis. Thomas Carter, later Associate Representative in Senegal, underwent an operation in Washington which forced him to cancel a January 10 flight to Morocco where he was originally scheduled to serve.
Morocco 1 Training at California State Polytechnic College, San Luis Obispo, CA, October 12, 1962 to January 26, 1963. Graduation Exercises were held January 25. The PCV oath was taken on Friday, February 8. The group arrived in Rabat on Monday, February 11 at 3pm. PCV service completed on August 11, 1964
Future of Peace Corps Programming in Morocco
In collaboration with governmental partners, Peace Corps/ Morocco works in four primary areas: youth development, health, environment, and small business development.
In 1995, education Volunteers began teaching English in community youth centers (Dar Chebab), enabling youth to practice the English they learned in school. While content-based English teaching is still widely used, the program today focuses on youth leadership, strengthening youth networks, capacity-building of professionals who work with youth, and promotion of girls education. Volunteers work with local professionals and youth to promote volunteerism and youth leadership through activities such as sports, study of world geography, libraries, exercise classes, environmental projects, project management training, thematic English teaching, and self-esteem activities for girls.
The Peace Corps/Morocco health project focuses on promoting health and hygiene practices through various activities, including: 1) educating individuals (men, women and children) on nutrition, vaccination, dental hygiene, hand-washing, water purification/disinfection, proper storage of drinking water, proper waste disposal, STD-HIV/AIDs awareness and prevention; 2) training health services providers (traditional birth attendants, nurses) to reinforce their ability to deliver quality service and improve their communication skills; and, 3) training and coaching local NGOs and development association leaders to build and sustain their capacity in assessing community needs, planning and writing health-related project proposals (e.g., water, sanitation, waste disposal, HIV/AIDs awareness), searching for funds, and training youth leaders in life skills. Health Volunteers work at the Ministry of Health and are assigned to rural communities throughout Morocco.
In 1985, the Government of Morocco invited Peace Corps to assist with environmental monitoring and management of Moroccoâs national parks and biological reserves. Today, Peace Corps/Moroccoâs environment sector collaborates with the Department of Water and Forests, the Ministry of Rural Development, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They address natural resources management and rural development issues in Morocco as well as the needs of rural communities living in or near protected areas. Volunteers work with community leaders, local community groups (menâs, womenâs or joint associations), and other counterparts and partners to initiate activities to sensitize the communities to the importance of their local environment.
This is done by promoting environmental education programs and eco-tourism. They work on socio-economic projects such as improving arboriculture, potable water, and agriculture; developing aromatic and medicinal plants; decreasing the impact of erosion; and restoring habitat. Volunteers also promote the use of renewable energy sources and the use of appropriate technologies to improve living conditions. Support is provided to local women, in particular, though training opportunities, income-generating projects, educational opportunities, and literacy programs.
The small business development project began in 1999 in cooperation with Moroccoâs Ministry of Social Economy and Artisans (now the Ministry of Tourism, Artisans and Social Economy). Volunteers advise and train small-craft businesses, providing assistance with marketing, accounting, basic finance, quality control, and creating feasibility studies and business plans. In addition, Volunteers help NGOs develop and improve their organizational skills and fundraising techniques.
Peace Corps/Morocco will continue to work with Moroccan government partners to address the expressed needs of the Moroccan people. The program will increase its efforts to integrate gender activities across all sectors and continue to improve the effectiveness of pre-service training through closer integration of programming and training.