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July 25, 2008 Meet the President

Today I had a meeting with the president of one of the associations (NGOs) of SouqTown. He’s energetic, active, and full of ideas for his city. I admit, I’m a little jealous of the PCV who works with him regularly, “LaHcen”.

But this afternoon I got to take advantage of their excellent working relationship and meet with them (and with visiting PCV “Tariq”, a buddy from stage) to discuss the planned Environmental Week activities for SouqTown.

Members of the association have already been working to clear the trash from the souq. They’ve shoveled mountains of refuse into dump trucks that they’ve hired to carry it to a dump near Springfield. Theoretically, SouqTown has regular trash pickup and transportation to the dump, but it doesn’t always materialize. Also, only some of the dumpsters in town get emptied into the trash trucks…the one near the river, which is the one I usually use*, gets periodically burned. (This is all news to me.)

In addition to shoveling garbage, the men of this association have been cleaning and patching a big wall along the edge of town. Before, this area was used by SouqTowners as a de facto dump, and was full of trash and assorted nastiness. Now, it’s cleared out, and will soon be the site of an Environmental Festival.

It’s all very exciting.

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s festival, members of the association will be going around SouqTown, explaining to people about the pros and cons of different waste management ideas (eg dropping trash in the streets = bad, carrying it to the dumpster that gets burned = OK, carrying it to souq and leaving it in the dumpster that will end up in a landfill = awesome). They’ve also hired some painters who will prepare the big wall for Tuesday’s mural-painting extravaganza…

* Since BerberVille’s plan for waste management is to set it on fire, and since burning plastic = releasing various neurotoxins and carcinogenic chemicals, I pack out my trash to SouqTown. I’d thought that all the dumpsters ended up in a landfill…turns out I was wrong. From now on, I’ll be packing my trash out from BerberVille to the dumpster by the souq. It’s a longer walk through the streets of SouqTown, but it’s worth it to know that I’m not poisoning the air.

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