In July, as New Beginnings kicked off our Morocco Kafala Program, members of the new program team traveled to Morocco to meet with orphanage partners, in-country staff, and most important, to see and learn more about the many children who are waiting for families there.
After a late-night arrival, NB Executive Director Tim Sutfin, Program Manager Jane Lee, and Country Liaison Wafa Benani travelled to Tangier, the northernmost city in Morocco. At the Creche de Tangier orphanage, NB established formal ties with the oldest child care facility in Tangier—where many children have been legally relinquished for permanent placement while other children are there temporarily until birth family are able to care for them again. After meeting with the orphanage director and our local staff (social worker Fatima and interpreter Aimann), we were given a full tour of the beautiful facility with a dedicated staff of talented aregivers. The center provides comprehensive services for children including play therapy and medical care. We enjoyed time outdoors with the toddlers who were in the grassy play area enjoying sunshine, toys, and the opportunity to run and laugh.
Another NB partner in Morocco is the Rita Zniber Foundation (RZF), located in Meknes. A drive to Meknes with New Beginnings’ Meknes Facilitator Adil Bennis provided an opportunity to see more of the country. RZF cares for children in two facilities—the Annex for older boys and girls of school age, and Le Nid, a care unit for infants, toddlers, and children of all ages with special needs. The love and commitment to children was truly felt in the faces of all the staff; we spent time at both facilities and were able to engage with the children and caregivers. There are large numbers of children in both locations, and the staff certainly has their work cut out for them, but this does not dissuade them from preparing entirely homemade meals (even the bread) for the children. NB was warmly welcomed by the organization’s director and staff, and we look forward to further developing this partnership so that children can thrive in permanent families.
In addition to the work with orphanage and in-country NB staff as well as meeting children, we were able to meet with a non-profit social service organization headquartered in Rabat. AKT, made up of professionals from a range of backgrounds (law, social work, advocacy, medicine, etc.) provides support and resources to children, single mothers, and local Kafala families. We are excited to support the work of this group as part of NB’s commitment to serve children and women of Morocco regardless of their relationship to adoption.
On the last day in country, we met with visa section staff at the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca. The Consulate was grateful for the visit and welcomed feedback about the adoption process for U.S. families. The staff, with previous experience in adoption policy, expressed their commitment to an efficient, thorough, and family-friendly process. NB will continue to partner with the Consulate via open communication and regular visits.
This whirlwind trip to Morocco was busy and productive, and it was also an important step in NB’s further understanding of the Kafala process, and of the realities and needs of children in Morocco. The trip also provided a meaningful opportunity to strengthen our relationships with staff and partners in Morocco while gaining a deeper appreciation for the culture, traditions, and Muslim faith that are the foundation of each child’s birth heritage.
In the coming months, as the New Beginnings Morocco Kafala Program expands, we will continue to celebrate with NB families as they welcome their children home from Morocco, and we look forward to returning to the country again very soon.