Oasis at the edge of the Sahara
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My name is Said, I am 32 years old. I come from a big family that is descended from the Tuareg-Imazighen. For many years, we lived a nomadic life moving from place to place in the Sahara desert. After the drought hit the area so strong, we decided to stop at the edge of the desert, in the Daraa Valley. While my parents now live in Tagounite, I decided to move to the small village Bani Hayoune, 7,5 kilometers further away, to live and work in a 200-year old old mud house. My father comes to work here almost every day. Coming from a previous nomadic Tuareg family, my family and I feel most at home deep inside the desert. Far away from the city sounds and lights, we find rest and satisfaction as soon as I enter the quiet, golden dunes. It is a hard way of living, but at the same time there is a lot of peace to find in the simpleness and in the direct approach to life that the Sahara desert and its surroundings have to offer. During the everyday life in the small villages, I often think back to the previous life deep in the desert. It contains a certain way of living that is difficult to find in our current time. But in the Sahara desert, it can still be accessible. The quietness, the harsh but calm lifestyle and realization that we are such a small being in this enormous universe, those are some of the precious gifts that the desert has left behind.
The village Bani Hayoune is one of the oldest jewish villages in Daraa Valley, and it was discovered by Ishak Aquim, around 2500 b.C. This place was used a lot by the people who lived here, for making a lot of traditional hand works and for trading. The house is based in a calm area, and you will find yourself in a green oasis consisting of date palm trees and the gardens. We have a donkey, a dog, rabbits and 6 cats at the moment :) We still don't have running water or internet yet, and only temporary electricity, which makes the place even more calm and you feel that you are very direct into nature. The place where we are settled can give you a good experience to get many ideas about the basic way of a nomadic life. For a moment you can discover and understand how technology can change your life and at the same time it is a good opportunity to enjoy some quietness and escape from the rush of modern life for a period. The weather here is sunny every day, you will enjoy beautiful sunsets every evening and at night you will see the millions of stars in the sky. We would love to meet people from different backgrounds and all kinds of cultures. By this way, we hope to exchange the cultures and different knowledges and ideas from all over the world. Since we have learned a lot from our parents and grandparents, it will be our pleasure to share with you in return this knowledge of our basic Bedouin life and to show you the desert. We will be very happy to host you here!
After many years of living a nomadic life in the Sahara desert, our family settled down in a village called Tagounite. I live in the small village Bani Hayoune, 7,5 kilometers near Tagounite, where I live and work on a 200-year old mud house. My wish is to rebuild, recover and expand this house by natural materials. The place carries many memories and the history of our ancestors. As a child, me and my family still moved around as nomads, but we would sometimes visit my grandparents in this area, who already stopped in the area of Tagounite to start building their house. After being able to rebuild the house, it is my dream to create here a guesthouse for travelers, a small school for children and a meeting & sharing space for the women in this area. My father comes to the house every day with his donkey, to work in the gardens and to help with the work that is needed for the house, and sometimes my brother comes to help. We will do different work: rebuilding the mud house, fixing walls, working on the electricity that needs to be installed, taking care of the donkey and 6 cats, walking our dog, picking the dates of the palm trees, cooking, making bricks and finishing/fixing the water reserves. You can choose the work what you would like to do, and everyone does what he can or wishes to do. Please don't worry about the need of any special skills. We will be happy to show you what to do and we will be thankful for any help you can do. In our gardens we grow wheat and grass at this moment. Our wish is to grow all kinds of organic vegetables and fruits in the gardens that belong to our piece of land. With the drought here in the south, water is a big difficulty, but we are trying our best to find solutions and all your ideas about growing ecological food are of course very welcome :-) The tasks could be all kinds of different tasks, varying day by day or week by week, like: - Building different rooms in the house. We want to build some new sleeping rooms and a big living room. For the building we will use mud bricks made of sand, straw and water - Cooking, every help with cooking is very welcome! :) We are happy to teach you our Moroccan meals, and happy to learn new recipes. - Washing and cleaning - Building the water reserve - Making/installing electricity - Fixing and cleaning the old rooms and walls (made with mud) - Make new door entrances in the rooms - Gardening. We need to plant new palm trees and we want to grow organic vegetables and fruits in the near future - We need to take care of our animals: our dog Sou Sen, our 6 cats, some rabbits and the donkey Khanaffi. The plan is to have some other different animals in the future. We will need help for planting new palm trees and making mud bricks so we can start building some of the rooms. Also we need some people to help us with installing the internet. And we would love it if there are some helpers who can help us in practicing languages to make it better. We are always thankful for anything you can help with.
When you arrive in Tagounite by bus or taxi, you will find me waiting for you at the CTM busstation. From there we will go to Bani Hayoune by motorcycle or tuktuk. In the house in Bani Hayoune we have two rooms which you can use and share with the other volunteers. You can use mattresses, pillows and blankets for sleeping. All the meals will take place together in the old living room, or outside in the shade. We will cook and eat together at the same place where we work. We have a traditional Moroccan bucket shower and toilet which you can use! Next to the house there is a wonderful palm garden where you can relax and enjoy the many beautiful sunsets.
We will have meals three times a day, cooked by ourselves and everyone will get a chance to learn how to prepare the real Moroccan dish. In winter, sometimes we make a fire for cooking or we play music and sit around the fire to warm our selves. We can cook with meat/fish, vegetarian or vegan. Everything is possible. During breaks we will have our traditional Moroccan tea. To cover the costs we ask for a small fee of 65 MAD (around €6) a day per person.