In the last three decades the number of children on Morocco’s streets has grown steadily and Taroudannt has several hundred children who spend the majority of their time on the street. Some of these young people work on the street, collecting rubbish, begging or engaging in prostitution. Some of these children do not attend school or are at-risk of dropping out of education. These children are sometimes stigmatised and isolated within their own communities, leaving them vulnerable to a wide range of health, legal and psychological issues.
Since October 2010, MCT has employed a local social work team to meet the needs of some of these vulnerable street-connected children in Taroudannt. This team delivers targeted individual support to support families living and working on the streets to improve their situation and access to opportunity, including: crucial legal advocacy, first aid and health support, access to public services, informal counselling sessions, home visits.
Every child that is taken on by the centre works through a full assessment in partnership with the social workers, and that assessment guides a 360-degree programme of work with and for the child and the rest of their family. Over the last six years, Centre Amane has become a source and a physical symbol of hope for hundreds of children and their families.
For the older children aged 6 to 18+ years, we offer a regular programme of school support sessions and non-formal educational activities in a classroom environment. The full-time teacher and social workers use the programme to encourage those children whose attendance at school is very irregular, or those who are at risk of dropping out of school. Our aim is to support the children and young people who voluntarily come to sessions to engage with education, by providing critical attention to their schoolwork and helping them to see the relevance of education to their lives, something that is often difficult for children who are independently seeking to support their families and themselves financially.
Along with our classroom-based services at Centre Amane, we run regular recreational activities in our adjacent sports hall. Sports and group activities can teach responsibility, discipline and teamwork, help children combat boredom, and provide a safe alternative where both boys and girls are welcome.
Due to our committed local and international volunteers, we are able to offer children and young people activities during their school holidays as well – a crucial period as they often have more free time but no alternative to spending time on the street.
Social stigmatisation, illiteracy, poverty and the challenges of managing their households, often alone, can all prevent women from feeling empowered to make positive changes in their own lives and in the lives of their children. The women’s group was established to provide a welcoming, non-judgemental space where the mothers of children in our projects could come together to share some of the real challenges they face in their daily lives and to collaboratively find solutions.
Regular meetings of the women’s group have been taking place since 2011. The group, though supported by a social worker, is participatory, with the women choosing topics and activities and taking responsibility for organising each session. Currently, the group is led by a rotating steering committee of four internally-elected members. Topics covered have included: parenting practice and child protection, personal health, legal rights and how to exercise them, access to literacy programmes and securing stable work.A large number of women have been able to bring more stability to their homes and now feel more confident to parent. The group has also meant that many have been able to realise their potential as active members of the community.
Mentoring & Other Activities
At Centre Amane, we train local volunteers to become mentors for a one-year mentoring relationship with a young person identified by the social work team. Our programme aims to provide young people with a stable, positive relationship in their lives as well as someone to offer trusted individual support and guidance. It has proven to boost self-confidence and self-esteem and be a helpful tool for child protection advocacy and liaising with local schools, including the university, from which many of our mentoring volunteers come.
Our team at Centre Amane also constantly seeks to use its access to resources to offer children and young people new opportunities, such as participation in Morocco’s Youth Parliament, a cultural music festival in Poland, and the SATUC Football World Cup in Egypt.