Dar Bouazza, Casablanca
With a population of 3.9 million people, Casablanca is Morocco's largest city and it is also the heart of the country's economic activity. Situated on the Atlantic coast, it is the main port and handles the majority of the shipping in and out of Morocco.
Wealth divides the city's population, with the luxurious villas that are clustered round the harbour contrasting heavily with the slums – or “bidonvilles” – that encircle the centre of town. Since 2004, efforts have been made to improve the lives of those who live here, but around 490,000 people still live in bidonvilles.
A tough childhood leads to a bleak future
Opportunities for children who are growing up in slums are few, and this can severely hamper their chances in the future. Overcrowding, drugs, prostitution and violent crime, make life extremely tough for these children, and they often face violence and instability at home.
This difficult start in life makes it very hard for children to break out of the cycle of poverty, and social stigma only adds further barriers to success. Overcoming these early challenges will be key to combating the long term problems that high levels of poverty create.
Children work to make ends meet
Added to the broader poverty related issues that children face on a daily basis is the tragedy of child labour. Many families depend on the income that their children can earn and this has led many to take their children out of full-time education in order to help make ends meet.
Many children work to produce a variety of handicrafts for the tourism industry and, in the worst cases, young girls are sold as domestic servants to richer households. Combating this problem requires tackling wider poverty as well as the social acceptance of child labour.
How we are helping in Casablanca
Our SOS Children's Village Dar Bouazza opened in 2000 and is about 16 miles to the west of central Casablanca. We are committed to working with the people in the area to help give all children every chance to succeed.
Care in the family
For children who can no longer stay with their parents, we the love and security of an SOS family. In the surrounds of our SOS Children’s Village, children grow up in the care of a loving SOS mother along with their SOS brothers and sisters.
They all attend local nurseries and schools, which help them integrate with the local community. When they are old enough they can move into our SOS youth home in downtown Casablanca, where trained counsellors help them to plan their next steps.
Care for the community
We recognise that a stable home life is key for all children in the region, so we help to support struggling parents through our SOS social centre. This social centre offers important support for families, such as advice on education and nutrition, as well as practical help, like our childminding service that helps parents balance work and care.
We also offer both young people and parents training to help develop income generating skills, such as farming. With these skills and the help and advice we provide, we hope to ensure that every child can achieve success.
Helping children with special needs
Our social centre in Dar Bouazza also focuses on providing care for young people with special needs. Today, we are able to support up to 25 children, and give them the help they need to make their way in the world. These young people are some of the most marginalised in all of Moroccan society and therefore need an extra helping hand.
Thanks to our supporters, we are able to provide tailored care to the most needy and most marginalised children in Casablanca. Please help by sponsoring a child.