By Lauren Kopchik
Photos by Rachel Woolf
Ahmed Lazar wears a suit to work, but he has no desk job.
Without even rolling up the sleeves of his dark brown jacket, he grabs a rusted shovel and forces it into the ground with wrinkled and hard-worked, yet startlingly clean hands.
“Bssla,” he says softly, pointing to the light green shoots sprouting about two inches from the soil, using the Darija term for chives. He smiles when he speaks directly to you, as if the warmth of the sun he works under each day uses him as a personal messenger. He stands tall as he strolls through the fields, his white fes with embroidered palm trees standing out among the zraa (wheat). He never looks down to check for the plastic black irrigation tubes with their thin strips breaking up a peaceful walk through the fields. His feet glide over familiar terrain with only a pair of weathered brown sandals to protect them.
Lazar’s tanned, leathery skin reveals a lifetime of hard work, but his contented gaze with shining eyes speaks of nothing but gratitude and pure joy. He walks with purpose to a small shed in an adjacent field and opens it up, gesturing proudly toward a motor that operates a 30-meter well that pumps water to every crop in sight. It represents the shared sense of community in his small village, a tribute to his 70-something years of living in a commune. His quiet strength gives away little, but his wide smile reveals there’s nowhere he’d rather be.