At a friend’s house in the bled: Ait Mazigh, Azilal Province, Morocco, 2003.
I had no idea what a stockout was—until 2003, when I saw the grave effects of one firsthand. As a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Morocco, I worked with Operation Smile one spring when the organization visited the country to provide free corrective surgery to people born with cleft lips and palates. With my boss and several volunteers, I found a number of people living in the “bled”—the rural area outside my small village—who wanted to undergo the procedure. For nearly every person we accompanied to Marrakech to receive services, this was not only their first time in a hospital—it was their first time seeing a doctor. It didn’t take long to understand why.