Addiction runs in my family, manifesting in various ways: drugs, alcohol, food… I’m pretty sure that I am at least a bit of a workaholic. I know that being Muslim doesn’t provide my children with some magic cloak, protecting them from these various forms of addictions, so I talk to them about it frankly and frequently.
A couple of years ago, during the quickly warming springtime in Casablanca, we were having one such talk at a little café. These outings were rare for us as I wasn’t working much at the time and although the snacks weren’t too expensive, they were definitely a luxury when compared to the national median. The waiter had just served our strange selection of French fries, mousse cakes, cappuccino and panaches when I noticed a figure stop just next to our table, but on the outside of the large picture window. He wore a dark hooded sweatshirt and began breathing heavily into a small plastic bag. He was a teenager sniffing glue.
Oh God. Tears threatened to burst out of their ducts and I had a feeling of panic rush over me. Really? Was it a sign? Was I really supposed to use that child as an example to my own? I did. I tried to be casual, yet not callous. My children freaked out. They were ready to rush out of the café and save the young man. “Can we feed him? Can we give him money?” they asked. No. He was too high right now. He would likely just buy more glue or stronger drugs if he could find them. We would have to find the safe house kids like him stayed at or some other organization that helped them and give them whatever funds we could.
Once, the blessed companions were on a journey and decided to slaughter a female sheep. Someone took it upon himself to slaughter it whilst another took the responsibility of skinning it. A third took the responsibility of cooking it.The Messenger of Allah said, ‘I will collect wood for the fire.’The blessed companions said, ‘We will do that.’The Holy Prophet said, ‘I know that you can do it for me but I do not like to be privileged. Allah also does not like it.'(It’haaf-us-saadat-ul-mutaqeen)
As spring bloomed into summer, we came across more and more kids like the hooded boy. I noticed that the groups of kids hanging out in a park by the masjid were not the same as the kids who hang out in the mall across the street. They weren’t as stylish or energetic. They were homeless and often intoxicated. I fantasized about feeding them, but knew they needed much more than the one meal I could provide. One morning my two sons and I came across two young boys; I mean maybe not even tweens, waking up on their cardboard beds not far from the library we were headed to. Articles about child prostitution in Morocco crossed my dash online. I asked friends if they knew of any organizations specifically working with homeless children in Casablanca. They didn’t, but eventually we found one.
Association Bayti has been helping “youth in difficult situations” since 1995. Along with billions of people without choice who do so every day, on April 29th– May 3rd I will be living on less than £1 ($1.5) than per day while taking part in the Live Below the Line campaign to bring awareness to extreme poverty and raise money (redistribute the wealth) for Association Bayti. The following contributors have been cited as among the contributors to why children become homeless – without their parents– here in Morocco:
* Unfair distribution of resources and opportunities in the community, such as lack of adequate employment opportunities, problems in working conditions
* Political and economic conditions
“Unfair distribution” = privilege and injustice, two things the Prophet (SAW) warned our Ummah about participating in. It is my hope that by participating in this activity and focusing some of my time and energy into this activity that I will come to better understand economic disparities and how to work against them.
Please sponsor me for Live Below the Line- all money goes to the ngo Association Bayti and their work to feed and help children in Morocco. You can give money directly to Association Bayti in Casablanca or go here and give via me and Paypal.
You can read more about Association Bayti and street children here.