Brotherly Kindness

Omar and Tarik are brothers. They are the sons of our former Arabic teacher, Abdesalam, and siblings of Touria, one of our Moroccan friends that live in Jacksonville. Denise and I have known both of these young men since they were born and have been frequent and regular visitors to their home since our first extended stay in Fes beginning in 1986. We have enjoyed enormously watching them develop into capable young men, possessed of skills and abilities, and genuinely personable and polite young adults. Their kindness in assisting us these past few days during our transition to life here in Fes has been more than helpful; it has been a godsend.

Omar was born during our first year in Abdesalam’s class, my recollection being that he arrived in the fall of 1987, and hence he is now 26 years of age. He is employed at the Ramada Hotel, working in the maintenance department, primarily responsible for dealing with issues of heating, air-conditioning, and plumbing. Tarik is 21 and is a student in Computer Science at one of the private proprietary schools here in Fes. He has already obtained two CS certifications and is now working toward a third in Database Administration. They are both single, still living at home which is the appropriate cultural situation, and both contribute to the chores and daily well-being of the family home. They are members of a large family. In addition to Touria, they have another married sister here in Fes, and two older brothers, one living here and one living in France, as well as a younger brother who is fourteen.

After we rented the apartment and began the process of accumulating furnishings and other necessities, we discovered that a number of folks wanted to help us in any way possible. Touria informed her parents that she and her husband Abdelhak had left a furniture suite, including a bed, at his mother’s house when they emigrated to the U.S. in 2008 and that we were welcome to use it. Fortunately, we had become acquainted with Abdelhak’s family over the past three years and his brother made the furniture stored there available. And while we were considering what we could use, he suggested we probably needed a sofa and coffee table, indicated he had both and identified them as cadeaux, or gifts. Needless to say, we were grateful for all of those offers.

Several of you wondered if getting a small table to the apartment earlier had been the chaotic situation I described, what calamity might occur when beds, appliances and living room furniture had to be transported. Omar and Tarik were clearly up to the challenge. First of all Omar engaged an individual who owned a pickup. Penske, my preferred brand of rental truck, has no agent in Morocco so we had to choose a local option. There are places about town where a number of truck owners park and wait. You approach an owner, describe what you have that is to be transported and where, haggle over a price and then pay when the job is completed. I hired one man and his truck, but the owner was not involved in any of the actual lifting and carrying. Omar and Tarik handled all of that.

I think I mentioned earlier that our apartment is located on the “troisieme etage.” That means three flights of stairs, which would be equivalent to the fourth floor in the U.S. I think I forgot to mention there is no elevator in our building. At my age, I have a lot of respect for a person who regardless of age, can pick up a double mattress, lift it above his head, and then carry it up three flights of stairs without stopping. That’s exactly what Omar did. In addition, he and Tarik carried up the new refrigerator, and then Tarik, perhaps to show me he is no wimp either, carried up the stairs by himself the 100 liter water heater we purchased.

Not only did they deliver all the furnishings to the house, but they enabled us move in the next day by installing the water heater. A drogurie, or hardware store, is located right next to the entrance to our building. Thus, Omar was able to purchase underneath our house, the required mounting hardware, couplings, and hoses to make sure that we would have hot water in both bathrooms. Since then they have repaired a couple of leaks, installed some kitchen shelves, and made themselves available to us whenever we called.

Tarik, being conversant with internet service providers, went with me to the Maroc Telecom company and guided me in the purchase of a modem for my laptop computer. The device cost me about $25 dollars, is about the size of a jump drive and is inserted into a USB port. By using the modem we have service pretty much anywhere we wish. In fact, I shall be transmitting this letter utilizing this service. For the month we shall be here, the 24 hour connection fee is also about $25. It’s remarkable to be able to stay in contact so easily, especially to Skype with our children and grandson.

Many of you know that in the past we have often assisted Moroccan students or diversity visa winners. Among them are Omar and Tarik’s sister and brother-in-law. On one level, I am sure they just want to repay us a bit for what they perceive to be our assistance to members of their family in the past. But on a deeper level, I sense in them a real desire to be generous, helping people. We have been lucky to see this character trait displayed again and again in the friends we have met here over the years. Though less than half my age, I consider Omar and Tarik to be a part of our own extended family, very similar to how I feel about my nephews, and have welcomed with a grateful heart all the genuine kindness that has been extended to us by these brothers.

Fred

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