Homeless migrants in Marrakech in dire need
I am posting this message to share with you the plight of homeless undocumented West African youth in Marrakech. The coronavirus crisis is having an appalling impact on them. Before the crisis, they eked out enough from begging to eat once a day, got water from public taps and had the clothes on their backs. Now, even this has been taken from them since they are in confinement with no resources and starving.
On March 1st, three expats in Marrakech set up the Maison de l’Espoir (Hope House) as a residence for undocumented youth from Guinea and Sierra Leone. We are now sheltering 13 youth aged Protected content were previously living in deplorable conditions begging near the Hotel Al-Khebir in Guéliz.
Our goal is to provide a safe space for sleeping, bathing and cooking while working to find training and apprenticeships for them and to help them obtain residence/work permits. We are also organizing classes in subjects like hygiene, nutrition, job hunting, etc. (halted due to the virus).
The Maison is officially an add-on center under the umbrella of a small Moroccan NGO that has been focused on aiding Moroccan street women (especially unmarried girls with children who are pariahs here). The Association clé du bien et d’espoir has provided the legal framework to allow us to move rapidly to address the critical needs of our target youth. They rent the building on our behalf and we pay the rent ($300 a month) and manage the program.
Since begging has become nearly impossible, we are also trying to use Hope House as a base from which to provide food to another 22 youth now squatting in another trash-filled abandoned building. We have been aided by a few expatriates in Marrakech who go to the markets on our behalf and provide bags of rice, cooking oil, canned sardines, soap, etc. This is lifesaving, but we need more volunteers to shop for us and/or to donate money to pay rent and to sustain the program via an exit strategy leading to livelihoods through training and mentoring.
We have just created a website. Protected content
The website is a work in progress but it provides more details than this message. It will be updated in early April (with a French version added) as soon as our volunteer webmaster can get to it. We will also be adding photos of all our youth and adding information.
In the medium term, we will be looking for institutional support so we can impact larger numbers but, for now, during this crisis, I am reaching out in as many directions as possible for immediate support.
Please consider making a donation via paypal on our website and also please offer suggestions, contacts and help us to broaden our thinking about how to tackle this problem. Please share this message and, of course, I hope you can help these young people in this emergency