PCV Rebecca Levy: The Azlag Dagger Cooperative is going to America!

Note: We’re excited to have our first guest post on Anou’s blog by Rebecca Levy. Rebecca is a currently serving Peace Corps Volunteer working in Kala’ Magouna. During her service she has been working extensively with the Azlag Dagger Cooperative and is now fundraising to bring the Azlag Cooperative to America! Learn more about this trip and the work she has been up to below!

A 10 foot dagger commissioned by the local government, made by the cooperative this past year, a welcome sign as you enter the city of Kelaat M'Gouna (the city of Roses and Daggers)!

A 10 foot dagger commissioned by the local government, made by the cooperative this past year, a welcome sign as you enter the city of Kelaat M’Gouna (the city of Roses and Daggers)!

It’s been a busy couple of months for the Azlag Dagger Cooperative, a unique dagger making cooperative in southern Morocco, in the town of Kelaat M’Gouna.  With opportunities to attend two festivals in America this coming year, their efforts to make “English-friendly” advertising and sales has been upped.  The cooperative has attended the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, in Santa Fe New Mexico in both 2012 and 2013 — with the help of Peace Corps volunteers.  After sales were not as high the second year they attended, the cooperative decided to take a year off of applying to the market and work to diversify their product line as well as improve their international selling skills. In the new year of 2015, we are pleased to announce that the president of the Azlag Dagger Cooperative will be attending a 2-week jewelry and gem show/exposition (JOGS) in Tucson, Arizona from January 29th-February 9th, 2015 and then again the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in July 2015.   Although, these international fairs are great selling and learning experiences for the cooperative, the cost of travel and lodging is quite a huge investment for the cooperative.  To help cover the costs of these trips, I have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the trips: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/azlag-dagger-cooperative-artisan-fairs-in-usa/x/5471909 Furthermore, in order to help explain to international buyers the unique nature of the traditional Moroccan dagger, the dagger workers and I worked with an amazing film producer from Ouarzazate eNews to create a short promotional video for the Azlag Cooperative.  Since the Azlag Dagger Cooperative is working hard to expand their presence online, the video was a great way to help international customers see how the daggers are made.  The video shows in detail the handmade nature of the craft, explains the different types of daggers, and tells customers about the uses of a dagger.  The Azlag Dagger Cooperative has a Facebook page, their online store on Anou, and a website. With over 60 customers working at the cooperative it is vital that they expand their market and sell their craft to the larger international market.  The daggers they make are well known throughout Morocco and the cooperative is one of its kind!  In addition to daggers, the men at the cooperative are skilled metal workers, making anything and everything from jewelry to lanterns to mirrors to beautiful tables.  A new cooperative building is hopefully going to be built in the coming year and the executive team has big dreams for the expansion of their trade.  Welcome anytime to Kelaat M’Gouna to visit this amazing cooperative!

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