Half Awake in a Fake Empire

Part 1  The Fear

It is quite a thing to feel truly alone, not in your home in New York City, but in a foreign land. A particular kind of fear frequently pays you a visit, whether you are lost in the winding brick alleys of the old Medina, or eating something you cant pronounce the name of. To be truly alone is quite an experience. My Arabic is nothing here, no one speaks English. Everything is a conquest, and I have no life line or old friends here, in this crazy beautiful place of Morocco.  I am truly alone and everyday as I walk the streets of the old city, I battle my own insecurities and fears. I will be here in this city for the next year of my life. Jesus…..

Yet at times, despite being completeley alone, there are ephemeral moments of clarity in which I feel compelled to dig deep within myself for something to hold on to, something of comfort, something of peace and hope. In contrast in New York City, everything around me and everyone around me automatically awards me that comfort, that sense of belonging and happiness and security and inspiration and strength…. to which one can easily take for granted and not even notice. We all often are guilty of this. Yet here, alone, in a foreign place, in a continent I have never lived in, I am forced to dig deep within myself for hope and strength and activley search for inspiration and hope around me. I have to dig deep. Most of the time I fail as it is only my 5th day living here in Africa, out of  the next few hundred. Yet the extreme aloness slowly erodes my own insecurities, my fears, to which I was blind to in NYC. And as a result, on occassion, I find myself doing things and feeling things of this world and this life previously hidden from within the bubble I was in, in Manhattan. I am looking out at the Atlantic from the African continent and for the moment, I realize how miniscule my own universe really is.

Part 2  The Inspiration

There are very few instances where I have felt, in their purest forms, these overused terms of hope and inspiration; I think I experienced such things   in the deserts of Mecca qnd Medina, in the townships of South Africa, at times on stage with Zerobridge, and in the Kashmir valley.  I felt it briefly the other day as I walked in downtown Rabat, Morocco and got caught in a riot between state police and the unemployed, frustrated youth of Rabat. The police immediatley began beating all the unarmed protesters, yet the people kept chanting and kept raising thier peace signs. That was inspiring. Yet the other day I may have come close to better understanding the true nature of such words like inspiration and hope when I visited an orphanage in the city of Kinitra, Morocco.

Most of these children, as young as 6 and some as old as 16, were subjugated to sexual abuse by their own parents, or thrown to the street at birth, or simply tortured and made to do slave labour. I was shocked to hear thier stories and scared to look into their eyes, so young, so naive, so pure, victims of a  world on fire. And yet, they held my hand, they smiled, they carried me. These kids are truly alone. Not me. And they dig deep within themselves for happiness and stability amidst the chaotic world around us. All they ask for is someone to hold them, to play with them, to teach them English, they want a foreigner to laugh at… and so I must acquiesce.

These children and those Moroccan social workers that dedicate their lives to help them, are inspiration, they are the hope in  this sometimes indifferent world. Such children and such inspiring social work are not limited to just Africa, these things are in front of us in America in the Bronx and in Asia in India. But the staff here at Dar LekBira do so much with little funds and resources. One woman does laundry for 40 children everyday. 40. Another woman cooks three meals for the 40 children. Incredible. And as I sat with the kids, who were crawling on top of me with cautious happiness, they made me put my hand on my heart and recite a promise in Arabic that I would never forget them or fail to visit. At that moment, I felt compelled to transfer some of my time and some of my government grant and Fulbright project to this orphanage instead of just the childrens center in Tangiers already well funded and well supported , as was originally planned in my grant. Why not help where it is needed the most? And so I am trying to edit the grant to help these kids, for at least a few months, at this humble yet inspirational orphanage. How can I not? Everything happens for a reason.

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5 thoughts on “Half Awake in a Fake Empire

  1. hey you. sounds amazing- you dont have to go thru any formal process to change your plans. you can do whatever you want now. so i say go for it, perhaps you could work there while you are in rabat and then decide on tangier later.
    im glad you’re writing- post pictures! i know you have a fancy camera…

  2. brilliant. you give me hope and inspiration that people are inherently good by nature. protege… you are fast becoming the mentor.

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