Community mapping is one of several tools that PCVs are encouraged to use with youth. It is something that can tell a volunteer about age and gender differences, as well as where the various youth spend their time. In our case, we were working with 20-25 youth for about 1.5 hours. They ranged from about 7 all the way up to 20 years old. For the activity, there were four groups; younger girls (7-12), younger boys (under 14), older girls (13-17) and older boys (16-21). Each group was given pens and markers, a large piece of paper, and asked to draw the town from their point of view. They all included places such as the mosque, various Hanuts (shops), the main street, and the dar chebab (youth center).
There were also some interesting differences. For example, I had no clue that there was a duck pond in this town. As you can see, the girls included it on their map, along with a fish pond, park benches, and rather detailed trees.
The boys did have a few quickly drawn trees, but there was no duck or fish pond to be seen. The boys map also had the label: “boys in chrichira”. I’m not entirely sure what this meant, but we think that chrichira might be a neighborhood. If this is true, we think that these are the boys that hang out on the street there.
There are sometimes obvious reasons for the differences in the maps. One is that boys and girls, men and women cannot always hang out in the same places. The boys likely spend more time at the soccer field, as evidenced by placing their own names on the players in the map. The girls play soccer much less, if at all, and so their map had a soccer field, but no names on players. Men can hang out at cafes; women and girls usually cannot, so the spaces where they can freely spend time tend to be limited to the home or the parks. This would probably explain why the girls: a) included the park and b) placed details such as the duck pond, fish pond, and benches.
Sometimes, a volunteer might need to work to bring more kids to the dar chebab or to specific activities. Based on the knowledge gleaned from the maps, a volunteer could focus on the park to involve more girls or the soccer field for boys (or at the cafe, if it’s desirable to have a bunch of Moroccan men staring and wondering what the American wants).
After making the maps, we asked the kids which places on their maps they like and dislike. Almost universally they answered that they did not like to go to the cemetery, but that feature was included on all maps. One boy made sure to get my attention to tell me that his favorite place to spend time was at the mosque. He was the only one to specifically mention this, and I was curious if it had anything to do with the fact that I know his mother; maybe he wanted me to report back to her positively. If so, he thinks I can communicate in Darija far better than my actual ability.