Literacy & Skills Training

Tangier American Legation Museum (TALIM): Women's Program

Since 1999, the Tangier American Legation Museum (TALIM) has conducted a popular program for neighborhood women consisting of Arabic literacy instruction, sewing/handicraft classes for profit, foreign language classes taught by volunteers, and a lecture series on health, civic responsibilities, and culture. Our programs are reaching women and young people in the old city where conditions are crowded recreation space is absent, and where it is easy for alienation and radicalization to set in. In the past attention to the medina has been minimal with little enhancement of popular participation and personal opportunity. TALIM has been effective in creating a Women's Center at the American Legation in proximity to their homes.

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TALIM's Fatima Benguerch with CLS students and women's literacy group CLS students learn Moroccan cuisine from women's literacy participants CLS students and women's literacy group

A survey in 1994 showed 47% illiteracy and 35% unemployment among women over 10 years of age in the medina. Our program of language and sewing instruction enables the women to function more effectively in daily life and to be better informed participants in their community. Women need basic usable skills to enter the marketplace; the larges demand in the region is in the textile and clothing industry, often benefiting from offshore status in the Tangier Free Zone. Women need an array of basic training in such skills as the use of the sewing machine as well as in literacy and numeric. The current program reaches more than 100 women and each year we have new participants so that over the years we have assisted hundreds of women in the medina.

Sewing Classes

The Women's Program is supervised by Mrs. Yhtimad Bouziane, the museum librarian. As a native of tangier, Ms Bouziane speaks the Arabic dialect of Tangier and is able to establish immediate rapport with the medina women. While a graduate student in France for seven years, she organized community activities for the Moroccan community there and she is the driving force behind the current program. TALIM Director, Thor Kuniholm, a former Foreign Service Officer, with 17 years experience working in the old medina of Tangier, assists with the management of the program. He is responsible for raising and disbursing funds for this project.

The benefits of the Women's Program are substantial because the program is centered at the Tangier American Legation Museum (TALIM), a site associated with the American presence in Morocco going back to 1821. Every day of the week, and often on the weekend, neighborhood women are meeting here in a convivial atmosphere learning skills that will help them live a more fulfilling life and often entailing economic benefits.

Visitors to TALIM from around the world are invariably impressed by this community program. TALIM cooperates with a number of local associations–Rotary Club, Micro-credit Foundation of the North, and the Tangier Medina Foundation—who have contributed to the activities.. Most importantly the women themselves—perhaps for the first time in their lives—develop a sense of individual worth and dignity, by receiving attention and encouragement.

The Medina of Tangier is the cultural and historic heart of the city of Tangier. Its renewal is an important step in the economic revitalization of the city. We believe that our program demonstrates to the local government and community leaders the importance of capacity building efforts among the women of the neighborhood as an essential step in renewing the economic life of the Medina. (A grant of $4,000 will finance language and crafts instruction for one year)

Seminars are organized for the benefit of medina residents by specialists and professionals in the field of health, environment, culture, etc.

Director of the literacy and professional training courses and youth workshops: Yhtimad Bouziane

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