Then, four years ago, everything changed when Hasna’s husband died suddenly. She found herself completely alone with her four young children, Salma, Yasmine, Karim and Nabil.
The downward spiral of poverty
Sidi Moumen is notorious in Morocco. A sprawling shanty-town characterised by piles of rubbish on street corners and high unemployment, it is a difficult place to grow up. Opportunities, particularly for the young, are scarce and many young people turn to crime or extremism to escape the cycle of poverty they live in.
Despite working a few days a week as a seamstress, Hasna wasn’t able to keep her children in school. This was a tough decision for Hasna. As a young girl she had been forced to drop out of school when her father also died unexpectedly. She ended up working as a domestic worker when she was just nine-years-old. She desperately wanted a different life for her children and knew the power of education to lift children out of poverty and give them a future outside the shanty-town. But if the family was to survive the children would have to help bring in some money. “It was a difficult time,” remembers Hasna. “But we didn’t have a choice.”
Since 2014, Morocco has tried hard to eliminate most forms of child labour, but poverty still leaves many families with no option but to send their children out to work. Nearly 5% of Moroccan children aged 10-14 are working. Only 0.7% of those children are still enrolled at school.
Hope at last
One day while out looking for work with her children, Hasna met Khadija, an officer from our Family Strengthening Programme in Dar Bouazza, Casablanca. Hasna told Khadija about her situation and her despair. Just ten days later, she was accepted onto the Family Strengthening Programme.
Since then, the family has gone from strength to strength. Getting the children back into school as soon as possible was a priority for us and Hasna so we organised school fees, uniforms, books and stationary. We also provided Salma, Yasmine, Karim and Nabil with catch-up classes to help them get back up to speed with the children in their classes as quickly as possible.
The oldest children, Yasmine and Karim, had been dealing with a lot of stress and sadness as they’d watched their mum struggle to make ends meet. They’d also not had a chance to grieve properly for their dad and so our counsellors gave them specialised support to help them overcome the trauma they had experienced.
Going from strength to strength
We supported Hasna with food, fresh water and other supplies to meet the family’s immediate needs. “This enabled me to concentrate on improving my sewing skills so that I could start my own business,” says Hasna.And that’s exactly what she did – after six months of training partly funded by SOS Children’s Villages, Hasna opened her own sewing business. She has been so successful that she has been able to buy her very own sewing machine. “I bought it with the earnings from the sale of my first items which I sold at the weekly souk,” she says proudly. Her beautiful work and unique designs mean that Hasna has quickly built up loyal customer base and she has been able to transform a room in her house into a tailors shop and buy a small car.
“Hasna works so hard and the children are flourishing,” says Khadija who still keeps in regular contact with the family. Hasna is able to pay the school fees for the oldest children while continued support from SOS Children’s Villages ensures that the youngest children can continue their schooling too.
We have been working to protect vulnerable children in Morocco since 1985. Find out more about the work we do there.
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