Chapter XXVI – Gafsa – Tunisia

P71029-145910-02 (2)Back from Lebanon, I went straight to Alessandro and Faten. My bag was full of drawings from bukra ahla to give to the kids of one friend’s school in the capital. Being back from the middle east wasn’t easy. There, I was working full time from morning to evening,  here in Tunisia,  everything was going back to slow mode. .. the people, the projects,  the work … everything. ..

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the government was still disabling everyone to do anything, from creating,  expressing to even thinking freely.

 

download (17)I again meet the censure, the undercovered mindset which tells you what to do, what to say, what to think etc. ..
With Alessandro and few others,  we struggle to impulse a motivation into people mind and to make them starting something.
Though, after a difficult and long work through the motionless of people and administration, we eventually succeed to start a project in the mining area of the Gafsa governorate, the poorest and most distress part of the country.  It was from here, as for instance, that the revolution first sparks came in 2008. It was from these people that the hope of change spread through the country until reaching its summit in 2011.
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7 years after, nothing was changed for the population of the area and the place was more hopeless than ever. Willing as usual to understand the different causes of the migration and to help the population in need as I can, I focused my work on this specific area which was crystallizing all the country’s problems.
 
I went to the place alone, to start first working in the little mining town of Redeyef deep in the countryside. There I meet the people from the town and I experienced the nothingness, the blankness and the hopelessness of the inhabitants.
 
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Working so far with populations fleeing from war and living in harsh conditions, I have been chocked to meet a completely different kind of situation.
Here the people weren’t living in the fear of war, bombs or other deathly things. .. their distress was way more complicated.  They were basically living in the forgotten state, without anything, without money, work, activity, education or anything that could give their life a sense.
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In this jail, lost in the desert,  the hope of changes was no longer existing in people minds. Worse,  the youth was not only suffering the horrible life condition,  the pollution and the trashes. .. they had no chances of work and the unemployment was reaching more than 30 percent.
In this conditions,  the youth was split between,  drugs, the suicide, the radicalism or the migration. and it was easy to understand.
 
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In Redeyef, I once again crashed into the system; the so-called administration that makes you struggle to do anything. I faced the closed mind of people in charge of the country’s future, preventing its youth to flourish. I couldn’t work in the school as it happened already in the past.
 
Once again the first round was lost …
 
But I decided not to give up and to carry on trying and, thanks to the hard-working bunch of friend from Gafsa (and after another week of back-and-forth with the administration) I succeed to get the possibility to go and to start working with the schools of M’dhilla and Belghir, two other villages in the area suffering from the same problems.
 
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My aim was clear, and the same than usual … to start projects with the kids, to empower them through the exchange project running for a year now and to get to know the specific situation of the villages.
 
FB_IMG_1523939345385-01It’s been an intense week, going from place to place, talking to people and working with the kids creating with them the first step of the connection I was trying to do with the other school.
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I would say that the general situation of the school in the country is catastrophic. Even in some of the harshest humanitarian situation, we still had a better educational system … there, the kids were just left by themselves and the schools were standing like phantomatic buildings in the countryside, either miles away from any habitation or settled a rock thrown away from the massive and toxic phosphate mountains that were killing slowly but surely, the future of the country.
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Through the kids were coming every day (for those who weren’t working in the fields with their parents) and were struggling to keep up with an old, conventional, blurry and difficult curriculum …
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As an outsider, I could help but to look sadly at the nothingness of these places, meant to be the nest of future Tunisia.
I could just plant the seed, hoping for it to grow … as quickly as possible, to give these kids a meaning in learning and to draw a better path in their future than the actual options which were given to the Tunisian youth nowadays.