A Fearless Guide to Food and Travel

Moroccan orphanage


There are few times in life that we have the chance to make our dreams come true.  I have always wanted to have a career that would allow me to help people the most in need.  In the 1990’s, as I was growing up, the AIDS epidemic was destroying Africa.  I can remember telling my mom “When I’m old enough I just want to go to Africa and hug those babies.”  I was 12.  The years rolled on and as my peers were making class presentations on football stars and fashion trends I talked about female genital mutilation and the Ben Barka Affair.  A totally normal 15 year old right?  I guess you could say my heart was always somewhere else.


Then life happened.


At 18 my life changed forever and suffice to say my dreams of Africa went out the window – I had my own baby to hug.  I had so much support and a lot of determination to finish university no matter what.  Many options were presented but only one was right for me.  As hard as it was I had to keep that little person.  In doing so, I gave up on all hope I had ever had to make my Africa dream come true. Resigning that dream was soul-crushing.


But Allah (God) had other plans.


I met the other half of my heart, he picked me up, loved me, and brought a new world for me to love.  I feel in love with Morocco, the people, the food, the colors and smells but no matter where you are or how wonderful a place seems, lurking under the covers is the dirtier side.  It’s not as shiny – frankly it’s pretty ugly.


The first time I saw a woman on the streets with a baby I wanted to give her all that I had.  But, there were so many.  Then it was like I had walked into a wall.  This would have been me.  If I wouldn’t have been born where I was – I would be that mother.  I walked away on the brink of tears when all I really wanted to do was give her a hug.  In all my struggle, I thought I had really done something.  But, this mom, she chose her child even if it meant an existence that was dependent on begging.


Over the years these moms and babies have stayed very close in my heart and mind.  As the years have gone by my appreciation for the safety net that exists in the United States has only grown greater.  I want to give Moroccan women that.  I have a dream to open a home in Marrakech for women and their children. It will be a safe place where moms can go to school as well as learning a trade or profession to support themselves.  Housing will be provided and cooperative childcare and meals  will be standard.  When they are ready and able, support will be given to find housing and start them out on a positive note.  This dream remains in my heart.


I know that it will take years for me to launch such a program however as we prepared for our last trip this fall I was determined to do something positive.  I launched Mobiles for Morocco to bring baby mobiles, clothes, and toys to an orphanage in Marrakech.  And, you all responded more than I ever imagined.  Within a day of putting up information there were monetary and physical donation pledges made.  It kept coming in the days and weeks that followed.  As we left I had one large suitcase full of 50 pounds of clothing, mobiles and toys.  Nearly $400 came in and many parcels of mobiles and clothes – some from as far away as Ireland! – came.  As each new package came I was overflowing with emotion.  I had hoped to bring just a few items with but thanks to you I brought A LOT of things!


When the day came I met Nora from Life in Marrakech and her mom to go to the orphanage.  We were also joined by her lovely kids as well as MarocBaba.  When we arrived I took a deep breathe and in we went.  First the baby room where a dozen-or-so little babies lined the walls in their cribs.  I was happy they all had names and I wanted to hold them all. One tiny two month old just called out to me.  As soon as I picked him up and held him, the tears started.
“I know your mama is missing you tonight,” escaped my mouth.
I kept sucking in air and trying not to cry.


The next two rooms had babies a little older.  Nora’s kids helped distribute toys and choose where to place the mobiles.  The smiles of these little ones was so contagious.  It was harder to hold the older ones because they just wanted to stay in our arms, putting them down was heartbreaking and met with small cries of protest.  I remember my own boys at that age squirmed to get out of my arms, these toddlers laid on our shoulders and stayed still.  More than one stole my heart.







This orphanage is privately run and most of the children who were there when we were are waiting for paperwork to finish processing before they can go to their forever families.  There are a handful of orphanages in Morocco that will adopt orphans to the United States.  If you have a Moroccan spouse or are living in Morocco the situation may be different. This specific orphanage does not adopt orphans to the US. Donations however, are always welcome. In addition to caring for these children, the second floor of the building has several guest rooms. Just a short walk from the orphanage is a children’s hospital and the rooms are for parents who have children needing long-term treatment at the hospital.


It wasn’t until my mom pointed out a profound fact about this trip that I realized just how full circle my life had come.  She told me that my dream had come true.  I wasn’t sure what she meant.  She then reminded me of my childhood dreams.  The ones I had give up when my life was turned upside down.  I followed my heart and did what I thought was right.
And – I did make it to Africa to help orphaned babies.  


This will not be the end of my journey or this project.  If you would like to get involved or have fundraising ideas for this orphanage please contact me.  When these little ones move on, there will be more waiting to take their places.


Putting up a mobile for toddlers.


Mobiles for some smaller babies


If you would like to make a donation directly to this orphanage funds can be transferred to               SGMB Al M bank in Marrakech Account # 022 450000 174 000902747453

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Amanda Mouttaki

Curious world traveling, mom of two busy boys, foodie at heart, addicted to social media and lover of all things Moroccan.

  • Samantha Boutaam

    April 27, 2014 #1 Author

    Hello Amanda!
    Your blog above has touched the same dream to help others that I’ve always had nestled in my heart. Since studying in Meknes in 2009 and visiting/participating in a woman’s help center which helps to educate and provide women a trade for living, I have dreamt of returning to Morocco to create such a program as you describe.

    My husband is also Moroccan and we just had our first child. Thinking of all of the children in the orphanages throughout Morocco tugs at my heart strings. We are coming to Morocco in June to visit family.

    I would love if you would email me so we can communicate further!



  • Rebecca

    June 3, 2013 #3 Author

    Amanda! This was such an amazing post! (Well, I usually like all your posts, and can relate to them very well), but this one really struck my heart. I´d like to do something like what you did, do you have any ideas on how I can find an orphanage in Morocco, get in touch and hopefully help them on? Best regards, Rebecca


    • Amanda Mouttaki

      June 3, 2013 #4 Author

      Hi Rebecca – I will email you directly:)


      • Rebecca

        June 4, 2013 #5 Author

        Thanks Amanda! I´ll be waiting for your mail! Best regards, Rebecca


  • Thooba Samimi

    May 12, 2013 #7 Author

    Hello, my name is Thooba Samimi, and I welcome you to the religion of Islam. I am proud that you have made the decision. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for you to convert, but I look up to
    your bravery. Inshallah, fortune will come to you and your family. Do not think what others will say of you, remain strong as I have. You have become a role model for many people.


    • Amanda Mouttaki

      May 12, 2013 #8 Author

      Thank you for your comment. MashAllah I have been Muslim for 9 years now and I feel most of the difficult times are behind me as far as acceptance. I appreciate your kind words.


  • Chintan

    December 8, 2011 #12 Author

    God bless you….

    What a wonderful gesture and determination to help the children in need.


  • marie

    December 8, 2011 #13 Author

    I recognize myself in you. I had the same dream, how strange! And you wrote this article the day of my 31st birthday. I know mine will come true too, you gave it life again.
    You are doing something beautiful and what you are doing for them is precious. May we follow you on the journey and always remember many more need our support, help and love. Thank you Amanda.


    • marocmama

      December 8, 2011 #14 Author

      Wow what a coincidence! Thank you for your kind words.


  • Nora

    November 5, 2011 #15 Author

    Oh Amanda, reading this made me cry all over again…it was an honor to accompany you on this most blessed of visits. The good news is MANY of the babies get adopted, by Moroccans, by Europeans. The ones in the toddler room are the exception :-( But you brought them some things to make their stay there so much more interesting and stimulating! It kills me that whenever I go there they are taking these looooong naps :-( When we turned on the music, remember how attentive they were? Those are some very grateful babies. God has blessed you with a loving heart Amanda and you have used your skills in the best way possible to make this happen. Love you!
    PS. still laughing at how my kids pestered you about Wisconsin!


  • jackie

    November 1, 2011 #16 Author

    What a heartbreakingly beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration.


  • Jessica

    October 31, 2011 #17 Author

    Amanda- This was such an inspirational post. It’s never easy sharing something so personal and emotional. I admire you for living out your dream and following your life’s passion. I truly appreciate the love you share with us through this blog. I also wanted to let you know I have awarded you with the Liebster Blog Award here: Thank you for sharing your love and passion for Moroccan culture and food. You’re helping make the world a better place in more ways than you know :)


  • Tara

    October 30, 2011 #18 Author

    Amazing! I so enjoyed your story and what you are doing! It literally brought tears to my eyes. Bless those sweet babies and you!!!!!


  • Laura

    October 30, 2011 #19 Author

    Wow, I am really impressed with your courage, determination, and, frankly, organization. Somehow I missed the call for donations–probably because of the summer I had. You’re a good person for visiting that orphanage; it’s a shame that the Moroccan government does not allow more adoption to the US.


    • marocmama

      October 30, 2011 #20 Author

      It was certainly the highlight of our trip for me. I can’t wait to do more.


  • Donna Sparrow

    October 29, 2011 #21 Author

    It takes so much strength to have a tender heart. I believe that you, my friend, have more strength than I. This brought me to tears, and I could feel your heart being torn by the plight of these precious and beautiful babies. Keep on keepin’ on, because however small you preceive it…you ARE making a difference.


  • Ammal Aziz

    October 28, 2011 #22 Author

    SubhanAllah. You made me tremble with tears of happiness. Thank you. InshaAllah Allah will ease the way for many more journeys to come.


    • marocmama

      October 29, 2011 #23 Author

      Thank you for your kind comment. InshAllah there will be many, many more trips!


  • Mandy

    October 28, 2011 #24 Author

    Amazing story and amazing work you are doing. Keep it up. It’s an inspiration.


    • marocmama

      October 29, 2011 #25 Author

      Thank you – I only hope I have the opportunity to do more.


  • getgln

    October 28, 2011 #26 Author

    I wonder if there are any adoption agencies that allow U.S. citizens to adopt Moroccan children.


    • marocmama

      October 29, 2011 #27 Author

      The issue isn’t with US adoption agencies. The Moroccan government has only designated specific orphanages as able to adopt to the US. There are a lot of hoops to jump through even when using those orphanages. I hope that they are able to open up the system to allow more kids to find homes.


  • getgln

    October 28, 2011 #28 Author

    Beautiful post my sister. Keep doin’ whatcha doin’.


  • Chantilly Patiño (@mculturalfam)

    October 28, 2011 #29 Author

    Amanda, this is so beautiful and I’m so in awe of you. Your mom is right…you’re living your dream. I’m so proud to have met you and please let me know anything that I can do to help you to do more. Would love to brainstorm with you more on this. <3 HUGS! You inspire me. <3


    • marocmama

      October 29, 2011 #30 Author

      Thank you so much for all of your support! I know there will be more to come in the future and I will be in touch.


  • Hollie

    October 28, 2011 #31 Author

    You know I have wanted to go too for a long time. I too would want to bring home 1 or 2 or 10.


  • Kitty

    October 28, 2011 #32 Author

    You are so blessed to have had your dream come true and even more blessed that you dreams will continue for you. I would love to be able to go and help in anyway I could. I have been to Morocco twice and still feel the essence of the country in my soul!


    • marocmama

      October 29, 2011 #33 Author

      It has a way of doing that doesn’t it? I am so grateful I was able to do something even if it was small.


  • Dagmar

    October 28, 2011 #34 Author

    Wow, I could never go there – I would want to bring them all home! You are amazing.


    • marocmama

      October 28, 2011 #35 Author

      If the option presented itself I would most certainly have taken 1 or 2 or 5 home with me!


  • Christina

    October 28, 2011 #36 Author

    You are amazing! What you did is beyond what the average person would think to do here. Great job!


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