The story of Aicha Khallouki
As part of a series of photo journals on how the TeleFood programme helps needy families, a resident of western Morocco talks about her daily life.
My name is Aicha Khallouki. I am 45 years old and live with my husband, Housin, and six children in a compound in the village of Sala Al Jadida, near Rabat. Two of my children are handicapped.My husband and I grew up in this area – actually we are cousins – and most of our relatives live on the land behind us. [All photos: ©Djibril Sy/FAO]
Dependent on livestock
This is my son Miloudi. He is taking the sheep to graze before he goes off to school. Miloudi and his brother Abdullah are the only ones who go to school. My other children are illiterate.We are farmers and have the sheep, a couple of cows and veal calves, as well as a bull and chickens. We don’t own any land but my husband farms the land next to our compound. It belongs to his father and in return we have to give him one third of the harvest.My husband has health problems, so often the children have to help look after the animals. When he is well he sometimes works on other farms as a day labourer.
School is a struggle
This is my son in the local village school. He is very short sighted and can’t read properly. He really needs a new pair of glasses, but they are expensive, about 500 dirhams (60 US dollars). I am putting money aside from the extra income I am earning with a rabbit project I started up with some help from FAO.
Milking the cows
Every morning at 5 a.m. I milk the cows. I have to bind their feet together to keep them still. On average, I can sell about seven litres of milk per day, which raises about 21 dirhams (2.50 US dollars) I give whatever milk is left over to my children and sometimes I make butter out of the cream.
I also sell eggs and when I really need to, for example, to cover medical expenses, I sell a sheep.
Our TeleFood project
These are my rabbits. They are nice big white rabbits, much bigger and fatter than most of the rabbits you find around here. They are a breed from New Zealand and I got them thanks to the TeleFood Fund. I started off with six young rabbits and now have about 16 but I also sold about 11 rabbits to earn some extra income. The TeleFood project also allowed me to buy the hutches, concentrated food, medicine and vaccines. I breed the rabbits for my own benefit but I also work together with the other women in the project group. For example, one of the women wants one of my bucks and I will sell it to her in two weeks time when it is big enough.
I can not read or write, but Fatima helps me to sort out my papers and certificates. Here I am showing her some documents I just requested for my handicapped children. Fatima is a doctor at the local hospital and president of the regional office of the National Union of Moroccan Women. She asked several poor women in the area whether they would be interested in raising rabbits and I wanted immediately to join in. Some women from the Ministry of Agriculture taught us how to take care of the rabbits, what to feed them and how to treat them against disease. Fatima visits us to check on the rabbits about once a week.
Under the rain
I am having a hard day today. It hasn't stopped raining and I have been digging little ditches to drain the water.
My eldest daughter Hasnae is trying to keep our things from getting wet. She helps me with most of the chores in the house as well as fetching water and wood for cooking. She has never been to school and is illiterate.
Benefits from TeleFood
On Thursdays I go to the souk. Today I sold two rabbits. I got 110 dirhams for them (13.50 US dollars), which is not too bad since I sold them as soon as I arrived at the market and did not have to pay the fee for a stall. I have sold about 11 rabbits since I started the project and I still have 16 rabbits left.Soon I hope to find a middle man who can sell the rabbits directly to the restaurants. That way I can fetch a higher price and avoid the costs of transport and hiring a space at the souk.
Tomorrow is Friday – the day we Muslims rest – and I want to invite our relatives for a couscous. With the money I just earned from the rabbits I am buying a nice chicken, lots of vegetables and some oranges. I spent about 55 dirhams (6.75 US dollars), about half of what I got from selling the rabbits. I will save the other half.
A more comfortable life
We are a very poor family and just manage to survive with our livestock and help from the family.But with the TeleFood project I now earn an extra income that helps me pay for extra food when it is needed and also helps me buy school books.I hope that my oldest daughter will find a good husband, and that my two youngest boys will finish school and manage to find a job in the city. Maybe one day they can help me build a new house with electricity and running water. That is my dream for my family, to live a more comfortable life.