Report on Empowerment workshop at Ourika Valley.
The main objective of this workshop is to empower women in challenging life circumstance to envision and enhance new possibilities first for themselves then for their families and communities
The second women empowerment workshop took place at Library in Tnin Ourika valley a rural commune – one hour drive from Marrakech. It was delivered over full four-days from the 19th to the 22nd of May, 2016. It was divided into 4, one-day Sessions (morning session from 10am to 12.30pm and afternoon from 2pm to 5.30pm). It consisted of thirteen women from Aboghlo Women’s Cooperative in the Ourika valley rural commune.
After everyone is being introduced, the training was opened with an overview about the program clarifying its goals, followed by a brief talk about the two great Founders of the program, Mr. David Gershon and Mrs. Gail Straub who empowered hundreds of thousands of people around the world; mentioning some successful stories of the previous participants that benefited from the first Imagine Workshop at Marrakech to encourage the new participants to engage effectively in the training.
At the beginning, we shared the reasons behind our Journey; the common reason for the most of the participants was to learn more about themselves. During this introduction, I held a brainstorming session to define some new terms such as “Empowerment”, “Growing edge” “limiting beliefs” which were new concepts for them and which will be very important in everyone’s Journey. Since this is a fundamental part we spent much more time on this to make sure that we have the same back ground and the participants assimilated the vital concepts.
The training session covered the seven critical areas of women’s lives which are:
It was explained to the women that this is just the first step, and we would discuss each area in profound way throughout the next four days and each day we will cover at least two areas of their lives. They were also told that the Empowerment Workshop will enable them to create/ improve their life exactly the way they want it and teach them to be responsible for their own thoughts and shape their destiny by themselves, and most importantly, they will acquire some tools which will help them manifest exactly what they desire through various exercises.
During these sessions, we discussed how we can
“prepare a fertile soil for our precious seeds (Thoughts)”
focusing on the idea that if we want to change any part of our lives which we don’t desire, we must first change those beliefs that created them. Moreover, if we want to create anything new in our life, we must first mentally create that new belief.
At this part we reinforced the idea of “watering the seeds, not the weeds” which means each woman should focus on the possibilities instead of the problems this idea was grasped by five illiterate women .Also, they learnt how they can shift from pathology to vision. Once the participants assimilated these new ideas, they were asked to do the “growing edge exercise” in all the seven life areas. Immediately after they had finished the exercise, they shared their growing edges with their partners, and then with the whole group. This exercise aimed to provide participants with a deep understanding of their growing edges and the places where they most need support.
Our discussion also revolved around our core beliefs and manifestation-using our life stories by going deeply in our internal beliefs focusing on the five core beliefs which are selfresponsibility, self-esteem, trust, positive attitude and flowing with change. We did the “inner soil test” which helps them to understand their growing edges. This exercised was explained in both languages Moroccan dialect and Berber.
In addition, they learned another important thing: how to write affirmations and practice visualization each participant went through the four step process which led to the exact affirmation.
1. Where am I now around this issue?
2. Where do I want to go? Vision
3. What do I need to change to get there?
4. What is my next growing edge?
All these four questions helped women to speak honestly and share their stories and their visions.
An illiterate Amazigh participant said:
“I have never got the opportunity to go to school now I am thinking to attend a class in literacy program”
After answering some questions and exchanging thoughts
One of the participants said “I had never had such an opportunity as this. We are in need to such exercises to listen to our inner voice and beliefs….”
Another young girl regrets for missing the opportunity to finish her school
“I promise myself to look for a dormitory school to complete my study”
In the area of emotions and relationships, the participants enjoyed the exercise of personal power (Room exercise) in which we invited several participants to share what came up in the different rooms. Through this mediation exercise participants discovered their strengths and deeper understanding of their personal sources of power.
One participant said
“I really liked this exercise. But it’s hard to heal from your painful memories…”
She continue telling her story saying
“I suffered a lot when I was kid my mother passed away and my step mother treated me badly”
When they were asked to close their eyes and imagine the rooms she painted a barrel which is a bad memory for her. It reminded her when her stepmother hits her head with the barrel when never she did something wrong.
Another woman said:
“I used to shout at my children. After doing the room exercise I felt better about myself as well as my children”
In the tunnel exercise in which all the participants walked back in their life and identified three situations and people they wanted to let go of. During this exercise, most of the participants rake in their past and expressed their sorrow and their memories and revealed situations in which they felt stuck. This exercise helped them to relax and build trust amongst each other here in this exercise women bring their problems and discuss them with other women. They support each other in matters outside of the business of their cooperative.
In the area of sexuality the women were asked to talk in small groups about this important part in their lives. Apparently all of them see that it’s important to talk about sexuality like any other area in life.
The first group (Widows or old women group) see that the relationship with their husbands decrease once get older moreover, they don’t even share the same room.
The second groups (young married women) want to please themselves and their husbands.
The third group (unmarried group) they want to know more about sexual culture before they get married.
In the fourth area which is body we did “Body dialogue exercise” which consists of more than 12 questions that helped them easily to explore their limiting beliefs.
Most of the women have the same concern which was the belly problems
“My stomach is quite puffy. That’s the only way I can describe it”
During the work session, the women shared their limiting beliefs and expressed a strong drive to make some changes in their work level. I am sharing one quote for widow woman “As a widow woman of two kids I didn’t have the courage to ask any one for work but with the creation of Aboughlo coop now I felt I am an effective person.”
In respect to the area of money, all the women said that they need to be empowered economically. For them work and money are connected to each other: the following is an affirmation of a handy craft woman:
“I am earning money to live a better life”
Spirituality is the final area that women discovered in empowerment workshop the purpose was that to help participants to create their personal spiritual path. The ultimate purpose for all the participants was to create a good connection with Allah (God) through accomplishing the prayer, fasting, reciting Quran and accomplishing the Al Fajer prayer and they need to be diligent in their worship.
The workshop was concluded by a verse from Quran says “Verily Allah does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves”
At the end I asked the participants to evaluate these four days verbally seeking honest feedback to see what they would change in the future. All the participants were very positive and loved the training confirming that the training fits their needs. Then I met the new participants for the next workshop and we took the picture together.