I woke up heart beating fast, sweaty palms and a bad dream behind me. I was so terrified, but also very relieved that it was just a nightmare. I had just dreamed that my host dad—whom at this point I hadn’t met and wasn’t even sure of his existence— raped me. In my dream a man came into my room and forced me to have sex with him. I screamed and screamed again in my dream. I cried and cried so much, there was no more tears left in my dream “It’s just a nightmare,” I said to myself as I opened my eyes and realized I was still in my room in Burlington, Vermont. My bed felt so small and my mom seemed so far even though she was in the room right next to mine. All I wanted to do was wake her up and ask her to pray with me and for me. Instead, I sat up in my bed, took my phone and opened MyBible Version app and read, “I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I? Don’t be alarmed or terrified, because the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua1:9).
A month later, I finally met my host dad. The first time I met baba Mohamed, he was wearing a button down shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. He had just arrived home from buying me cake—my welcome cake. “Salaam Alaikum,” I said with an awkward smile on my face. “Alaikum Salaam,” baba Mohamed said with a big smile on his face, then he added “Welcome!” It was the cutest and most honest welcome anyone has ever said to me.
Baba Mohamed sold purses for a long time. He had a guy who gave him purses that he sold in Rabat while his coworker sold them in Casablanca. About a year ago he lost his job. “I have a lot of ideas, great ideas,” baba Mohamed said, “I just don’t have the money to start a new business, that’s why I’m still at home not working.”
Baba Mohamed wakes up around 6 am every morning to do his morning prayer. He then goes to buy bread for breakfast, before making tea and setting the table. During the day he takes Soulayman, my 2 year old host brother for a walk outside the Medina. I saw them out once, they were so cute.
By the time I get back from school, baba Mohamed is watching soccer or listening to music. He’s a Barcelona’s fan and so am I. We automatically bounded over Barcelona and have been watching soccer games together. The last time Barcelona played against Paris Saint-Germain and won 6-1, I wasn’t home. I remember coming back home around 9:30, I went into the living room and looked at baba Mohamed who smiled at me and asked “Tu as suivi le match?” [did you see the game]. I smiled and said “Mais biensure” [of course]. Baba Mohamed then puts his hands up and put up six fingers to show the score. We then went on laughing and replaying the best parts and best scores of the game. Mama Nadia, my host mom couldn’t help but point out how loud baba Mohamed was and that all throughout the game, he scared her with his screams multiple times.
Baba Mohamed is the person I go to when I want to make sure that there is hot water for me to take a shower. He also sometimes plays the translator between mama Nadia and I. He speaks better French than her, so when I use a word she doesn’t know or say a very long sentence, baba Mohamed translates in Arabic.
I can safely say that my prayers from the day I had a nightmare about my host dada were heard. I was giving an AMAZING host dad and family. It almost feels like I have a dad again.
The group will be going to the village for 5 days this Sunday. This is supposed to be a relaxing time. I have 2 books that I plan to read there. From what I heard we’re going to make cow milk with our village host families. There will be two of us per family and no shower, no wifi, no cell services. IT’S GOING TO BE GREAT.