The plight of abandoned children in Morocco

By Yasmine Styf

Morocco World News

London, August 7, 2013

As I sat in my home in London in a cold and snowy day, booking my Arabic studies with the Moroccan Center for Arabic Studies combined with volunteering, little did I know that it would change my life completely after just a few days in Morocco.

We live a life that is so full of stress and materialism that one gets blind, not seeing that people have it bad. I got a wake up call after my month of intense volunteering in Rabat, Morocco.

Many countries are suffering from child poverty, unfortunately. However, Morocco is one of the major countries with severe child poverty where it is not unusual that women abandon their children because of social and economic difficulties. Many children are found and left in centers or orphanages. Many are left to beg to make it through the day, sleeping on the streets, in parks and other places where they can find a shelter away from people. Many are left for the unfortunate fate of death.

What struck me the most is that not all children that end up in centers and/or orphanages are up for adoption. Orphans are mostly encouraged to be adopted, where an orphan is defined as a child with deceased parents.

Abandoned children are taken care of in centers around the country and some times they could be placed around adults that might have mental disabilities and psychological and social issues. These children are not up for adoption, and are free to leave the center when they reach a specific age. All the time, until this age, the parents of the abandoned children can come back to “claim” them back. Until that day, if it ever comes, the children wait and wait. Some times and I dare to say most of the times, in vain.

For the children of Morocco not to be neglected, somethings need to change. For example, anyone needs to be able to adopt, and not only orphans.  A couple should take the responsibility of what they have done without protection. If they cannot, their guardianship rights of the child should be taken away, and these children should be allowed a second chance of having a home and parents who can provide for them what all children need. A home, love and support.

Moroccan law states that only Muslim couples or single women are allowed to adopt. They should also preferably be Moroccan, not have any criminal records and be mentally stable. If a couple or a woman is not Moroccan, she is not allowed to adopt a child, merely apply for a Kefala guardianship through court, to later adopt the child in their or her home country.

Casablanca and Rabat, where I spent an extensive amount of time, showed major signs of high child poverty, with many centers and orphanages in the cities. Children there wait in vain for their parents to come back to claim them. Or for other loving parents to adopt them and take them home. Usually no one ever comes. In these cities also, unfortunately, one can see many children that are begging on the street and many children in the parks sniffing glue, trying to forget the reality of life for some time, hoping and wishing for a better future.

I call for a change in the Moroccan law, allowing abandoned children to be adopted. By anyone that is fit to do so. Also, parents that are abandoning their children should also be withdrawn their parental rights of that child they are giving up. All to enable that child whose mother no longer wants, to secure a future with a loving mother or with loving parents, regardless of their religious backgrounds, ethnicity and/or social status.

The children are after all our future. Without saving these children from a frightening and depressing future, the vicious circle will only go on and these children will, once let out of these centers around Morocco, be angry at society that let them down. This is a scary way to start your adulthood. Both for themselves but also for a country’s social and political status.

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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