The Association INSAF in Morocco recorded that in 2009, 27,199 single mothers gave birth to 45,424 children. Yacout Info met with Hakim Serrakh of Atfalouna one of the associations in Marrakech helping single mothers in difficulty and their children, offering them shelter, training and a chance of a new life.
Yacout Info: When was the association founded?
Hakim Serrakh: Atfalouna Marrakech was founded in 2003 in Morocco. There are six people in the office. I am the coordinator and in charge of projects and follow up. I am a teacher and trainer by profession. This year we have 264 children . There are 140 undergoing informal education And there are 30 in professional training and 20 who are living in the streets and the rest are in school.
Q: Do you provide education housing and food for these children?
A: Of the 140 children , there are 20 who are working and are in formal education we provide food and night time accommodation for 12 boys and 8 girls up to 15 years of age.
Atfalouna (which in Arabic means “our children”) was established in 2000 in France to provide financial assistance to NGOs working for the Moroccan children in difficult situations on the street. The need for a local relay soon became indispensable in Marrakech, to work for these children. In February 2003, the association Atfalouna was born in Morocco to provide direct assistance to children of this city, who are among the most endangered in Morocco.more and more children are living on the streets in Marrakech, prey to all kinds of abuse.
The latest official statistics, 65% of the population lives below the poverty line and authorities estimate that there are 14,000 the number of street children. This figure is constantly increasing. These children left to themselves, become vulnerable to all sorts of dangers: drugs, violence, but also sexual exploitation.
Marrakech is the tourist mecca of the country, and more and more children are identified begging. Many live in fact in the Mellah, the poorest neighborhood in town. They no longer go to school, spend their days outside to glean a few dirhams and able to buy their drugs for sniffing glue to forget and go to sleep at home, late at night. children without families, who live and sleep on the street, are also seein Marrakech. The gangs are getting organized and we must act quickly as the phenomenon is growing. The creation of this association in Morocco was sponsored by Mrs. Bouabid, president of the AMESIP (Moroccan Association for Assistance to Children in Precarious Situations), which provided advice, technical support, and has trained educators. The team is now composed of a coordinator and seven teachers.
Q: Is there also a problem for children who have no papers or legal identity?
A: Yes certainly there are children who have no legal identity (mere sous la terre). This problem is growing and there are man abandoned children here in Marrakech.The problem is perhaps greater because it is a growing city which attracts people from the countryside and further afield who come to look for work but have no qualifications. Thus women frequently fall into prostitution or begging and there is always the risk for the children. This is a situation which is bad for the mother and the children.
Q: Is it because families tend to break up under harsh economic conditions ?
A: In the big cities like Casablanca and Marrakech nowadays the traditional family Solidarity has begun to be weakened although the family is still strong in small downs and villages. There are huge problems in the big cities which are causing the break up of families. State aid is there but it needs a better structure . The state cannot do everything and also needs civil society to play its part. It is important that civil society takes up this
task seriously with honesty and transparency.
It is easy now to set up an association but it needs real dedication to be successful in this work.
Q: How can these private associations cope with this growing problem ?
A: We are trying to resolve these problems such as the children without papers bit by bit so that the children have the chance to go to school with all the necessary facilities. For young children we can overcome this problem of lack of identity but when children go on to attend college they must have papers. When they reach the age of 16 they need to have an identity card.
When the mother originates from a place which is far from Marrakech there is the possibility for the administration to provide papers to confirm the date and place of birth. The problem is the orientation and training of the mother and the help that the administration can provide a structure which can listen to the woman and understand her problem. The administration at the moment does not have the time to do this. It is for this reason that we are there, we aim to be an intermediary between the needs of single women with children and the tribunals or the authorities and the women. We have to make a thorough inquiry and establish the facts and the woman’s needs.
Our goal is to establish a shelter and training. The restoration of broken relationships often between children and their families. Full support of the children shelter, clothing, food. Legal assistance (including establishment of identity and identity cards) as many children have no papers or parents. Social and economic reintegration. Socialization of children (education and prevention). Learning the values essential to young children who are growing up.
Atfalouna’s partners are:
Group Development: Principal Founder
The AMESIP Association Rabat.
The Annakhi Association for Women and children Marrakech
SOS Children’s Village
Q: How many associations are there like Atfalouna in Marrakech ?
A: There are three , Al Karam, Atfalouna and “Keep Smiling” it is a subsidiary of a French association. They work with us .
For single women there is Annakhil and Atfalouna and we take care of the women and children. These are the large associations but there are also smaller ones.
An assistance program targeted to the specific needs of children. The association acts on two components: a preventive (street children, child laborers, maids) and a curative (street children)
The child joins in various activities that will help him forget the street
44 children have been re-educated in government schools. Every night for 1:30, they receive tutoring. 4 classes in 4 different schools welcome children for over 78 non-formal education to get back on the benches of formal schooling or vocational training 56 children have integrated vocational courses (sewing, carpentry, hairdressing)
Our teachers provide rigorous school schedule. Depending on the level of the child receives either a formal basic education (tutoring from 17:30 to 19h) or non-formal (project Adros 10répartis from 8:30 to 3 public schools and for children of Street in the center every morning.
Each educator supports a small group of children. Its mission is to follow special each and create favorable conditions for the reintegration of the child in his family. This relationship of trust that develops individualized allows everyone to feel heard and understood.
Educators are trained by two NGOs: AMESIP BAYTI and also supported by Group Development.
The children participate in enrichment activities (visits to monuments, theater, singing, civic and religious) and sports (swimming, football). They have A music teacher an an annual festival
During the holidays, the children are taken away, (for the first time in their lives for a few) who are on vacation organized in collaboration with the AMESIP for the summer holidays, and with SOS village for a little vacation
The teachers follow a rigorous action plan which aims to raise the child to clean both inside the center than at home. For this, the teacher conducts unannounced visits to families to track the cleanliness of the child and the evolution of the parent – child relationship.
This regular contact with children is also an opportunity to monitor their health and provide the necessary care for illness or infection.
A GP, psychiatrist, pediatrician, dentist provide free consultations and care. The Ministry of Health is also a project partner.
The center opened to support (food, clothing, medical, hygiene) children who live and sleep on the street. This is a place of welcome temporary or children can come and go as they please. The venue and listening is an airlock between the street and their integration into society.
The “new horizon” centre is the name given to new premises recently purchased by Atfalouna’s partners: Development Group, Air France, Okaidi, Veolia. This new center will have two functions: to house girls in distress or in a street situation and provide vocational training and education for children of both sexes.
If you would like to send donations to Atfalouna Marrakech these are the details:
Adresse: 48, Derb Jdid Bab Doukala – Marrakech
Tel : 05-24-37-77-14
Compte bancaire :
049 E 30426 Attijari Wafa Bank -Hay Hassani Marrakech
Atfalouna’s RIB : 00745000000004930426968