Interview with Jenni Morello
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Jenni Morello is currently a Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Morocco since March 2006. She is calling from Ouarzazate, in the south of the country, a big film center. A number of films are being made there now, including one with Russell Crowe, but she is still waiting to see a star. In the meantime she is working as a health and sanitation volunteer, educating people about basic hygiene, water treatment, and painting murals with health messages.
She is also instructing people in her village about AIDS. AIDS is starting to become a problem in Morocco, although it has the lowest infection rate in Africa. AIDS is often brought in from other countries and carried to the villages by husbands who work in cities and visit prostitutes. The government has good Arabic language education materials in the cities, but many village people cannot read Arabic or are illiterate, and education often relies on talking and murals. The rural population can be very conservative so Jenni, even though she speaks Berber, cannot talk about sex or sexual diseases because she is not married and it is assumed she knows nothing about sex. Jenni can tell women about AIDS as a disease and how it can be transmitted by infected henna needles and other non-sexual means.
After living with a family for a few months, Jenni moved into a small house of her own. It is too large for her, but she enjoys the privacy. The village just got electricity and village people are excited because they can watch TV on the satellite dish all the time, instead of just off a car battery for a few hours a night.
Jenni traveled abroad while in college, loved the experience and wanted more. The Peace Corps gave her a cross-cultural experience and enabled her to work in a sustainable way.
Her advice to social entrepreneurs: “Understand that things take a very long time. Get used to the fact that things may not always work out, and may not always get done, or done right. Don’t focus on a schedule,” she adds, “and stay in good humor.”
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