Starting

It took me a solid hour and a half from opening my laptop to writing this sentence. It didn’t take me that long to navigate the account set-up on WordPress, nor did I have to ponder the name of the blog, or any of its details. Rather, I deftly navigated those portions, opened up the tab for a new blog post, and then another tab for Reddit, another for Facebook, and another for Twitter; until I was deep in the depths of the social media mire.

Starting is the hardest part. I have become well acquainted with this axiom in my past two years of college, and starting this blog, and symbolically officially launching this project, actually proved easier then it was opening up Microsoft Word to launch into yet another 20 page paper. Still though, I have been putting this blog off since Tuesday (albeit I have only been back in America since Monday and I have been pretty busy), and that makes me all the more fearful. Fearful of failure. In between clicking all those tabs during all of those procrastinated papers, I have come to learn something about myself and my aversion to “starting.” I hate to start, because I hate to fail. A small part of me would rather never start something at all then to start something and fail at it. And I hate that about myself. But this is a lot of talk about hate for a blog, and a project, that is meant to be about love.

I am afraid that I will fail, so afraid that it is keeping me up at night. This project, Feeding Walid, is more important to me than anything else I have done in the narrow parameters of my life. Failing at this project will undoubtedly have devastating ramifications for not just myself, but more importantly, it will forever crush the dreams of the project’s main beneficiary, Walid. Yet, here I am. Starting. My love for Walid outweighs my fear of failure, and as long as I am throwing out axiom’s: Love conquers all, and love easily dominates my trivial psychological inhibitions.

Even though, I’ve started, I’ve started in medias res. Beginnings can be just as hard as starting, and with Feeding Walid there are a couple places I can start: Why I decided to travel to Morocco, when it was I first met Walid, or how the idea of this project came into fruition. Obviously, I forsook all of these approaches and decided to just start in the immediate present, in time I will detail these beginnings, but it is more important that I start with what is Feeding Walid the project and Feeding Walid the blog. In order to do this, I have to go into “long story, short” mode (though the long story will be told in time):

This summer I traveled to Morocco for 9 weeks for a study abroad with the organization International Studies Abroad (ISA). My trip was split into two distinct parts. For the first four weeks, I volunteered at the Center for the Protection of Children in Meknes, Morocco through ELAP, ISA’s service-learning and internship subsidiary company. For the following five weeks I would take college classes. I met Walid during the ELAP portion at my “placement.” The Center for the Protection of Children (the Center) serves dual purposes. The first purpose is for youth detention. Children that get charged with small crimes in Morocco will often get sent to one of twelve Centers in Morocco in order to get rehabilitated back into society (most of these kids committed crimes not because they are “bad” kids, but because they come from bad situations, an immediately apparent and underlying theme during my time at the Center). The second purpose is to house children that have no where else to go. This is because these “bad situations” are rather common in Morocco, and unfortunately it is the children that often feel the full ramifications of these contexts. Some of those ramifications include homelessness. Walid falls into the latter category.

Before I had known it, the ELAP portion of my trip was already over, and time for me to begin the “study” part of my experience, but I was far from ready to leave the Center and my new found friend Walid behind while I studied for five weeks. I continued volunteering at the Center while I could, and taking Walid out of the Center more and more to hang out and chat, and usually just let him have some access to the internet. It was during these five weeks that I become resolute. It was impossible for me to leave Walid behind at the Center while I continued to study. Thus, during the five weeks of my study it became even more impossible for me to say goodbye forever to someone that was already as close and as dear to my heart as a brother. I decided then that I wasn’t going to say goodbye. I was going to help Walid.

Walid is seventeen-years-old with an eight grade education. Children at the Center with no where else to go have to leave the Center when they are eighteen. The best Walid can hope for before he leaves is one of two things: He can have a year of vocational training under his belt when he leaves (it takes two years to get a degree), or he can have a ninth grade education and attempt to pass the nation-wide test to be accepted into high school. Neither path is ideal as before he can finish either high school or vocational school he will be out from the confines of the Center fending for himself. Also, given that the job situation in Morocco is rather dire, it would be impossible for Walid to find some sort of part-time job arrangement to keep his needs met and also continue his schooling. Thus, when he turns eighteen, Walid will have no choice but to abandon his education and enter the workforce, given that he will be untrained this will probably be at an extremely poor paying dead-end job, or even more likely, no job at all, forcing him to live on the streets.

This is unacceptable to me. I realize that Walid, like any loved one, is only important to those who love them. That then is part of the reason for this blog, I want to show the world this person that managed to find his way into my heart in such a short amount of time. The thought of Walid ending up on the streets (for a third time) sickens me. His background is incredibly sad and incredibly out of his control, and the thought that the pain other people inflicted on him continues to keep him from reaching his full potential inspires in me a lack of faith in humanity. A belief I do not often indulge.

Herein lies the goal of Feeding Walid the project: Keep Walid off the streets, and further his education. Outside of the picture on this blog, and the broad brushstrokes I have painted him in here in this first post, I realize that Walid is as much of an enigma as any other disadvantaged child from a disadvantaged part of the world. But like all of these children he deserves a chance to make something of himself, a chance he has yet to be truly given. I ask that you give me time, in the same way I gave my own time to Walid and opened myself to a brotherly bond ascending both blood and distance, to show you not just Walid’s character, but how it is he has come to slip through the cracks. For Walid, even if the problems that landed him in this situation were fixed overnight, it would already be too late for him to overcome them. He is at the point of no return, and action has to be undertaken now.

Feeding Walid the blog is meant to serve the project. I have never done anything like this project before, and this blog is meant to illustrate the trial and tribulations of completing Feeding Walid, something that will ideally be a multiyear effort. I don’t know what I am doing, I will readily admit that I am in over my head, but I want this blog to serve as a template for others that may want to do something similar. More importantly though, I want to recruit others to my cause, either in their professional help or in their charitable hearts. I want to show people the story of Walid and why I am willing to give so much of myself to him and this cause. I ask that you help me. Help me find the right people to talk to. Help me keep Walid off the streets and in school. And help give Walid the ability to reach his full potential. I ask that you help me get started. Help me feed Walid.

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