MarocMama

eat well, travel often, dream big!

Helping  Morocco’s Orphans: SOS Children’s Villages

Some time ago I wrote about a small project we conducted to deliver some mobiles and baby clothes to an orphanage in Marrakech. I’ve gotten so many responses from this post, to which I am always happy. The more interest there is, the better chances there are for these children to find a home. Some time later I wrote about the change in Morocco’s foreign adoption policy and what that meant for the children stuck in limbo. I truly believe that every child needs and deserves to find a loving, supportive home. But, the reality is that adoption isn’t an option for all children. In a perfect world it would be but we know that  this is not a perfect world. In Morocco about 6000-7000 children are abandoned at birth each year, primarily by single women (according to UNICEF). This remains a problem and with tightening grips on international adoption, programs need to be in place to support these children.

SOS Logo

In my first post about orphans in Morocco, I briefly mentioned that when children reached a certain age they were moved to children’s villages or an orphanage for older children. As fate would have it, I was contacted by SOS Children’s Villages last fall during Orphan Awareness Month. I quickly made the connection and asked them if there was anyway I could visit one of the children’s villages in Morocco. I wanted to know what the next step was for children who were not adopted.

SOS Villages in Morocco

Before we went to visit, I had a long conversation with Claudia Ender of SOS Children’s Villages-USA where I learned about their model. The concept (and organization) was founded by Hermann Gmeiner in Austria after World War II.  With so many war orphans he envisioned a place where they could find a safe home with a mother and siblings. His idea was revolutionary for the time as it created a sustainable model for caring for children instead of an institution to house children. Up to eight live in a house and they remain together as a family unit. Each house mother cares for the children as they were her own. She also has one mother’s aid who helps if a child is sick and the mom needs to take them to the doctor or if mom just needs a break.

After some arrangements with SOS US and the SOS village here (it was the closest to Marrakech), MarocBaba and I took the short drive to Ait Ourir. We didn’t have an address, but were told to just ask anyone in town and they would know where to send us. Honestly, at this point I had an idea in my head of what we were going to find. I imagined maybe one or two multi-story homes that had families living on different levels. It puzzled me how everyone in town would know where to send us. I kind of felt like the children must be pariah’s if everyone knew where they were. What we found blew my mind. This is a video filmed at Ait Ourir – it’s not mine, and it’s narrated in Darija but you won’t need to understand what the narrator is saying to see and get an idea of what you’re seeing.

It wasn’t a few houses, it really was an entire small compound and it was gorgeous! Inside the walls were villa style homes for the families, gardens with lots of fruit trees, and peacocks wandering the grounds! An administration building, and a community center as well as a kindergarten and nearby primary school also made up the buildings. We were told that local children also benefit from the school, as there are a certain number of places available for them to attend too. Inside the community center were rooms for art classes, music enrichment, and technology (computer) classes. The support of corporations such as Dell (who sponsored the technology room) and McDonald’s (the music area), makes this a reality. One hundred children call the village home and come from all over the country. SOS also has villages in Agadir, Dar Bouazza, El Jadida, and Imzouren. Once children reach their teenage years they move to a youth facility in Marrakech or Mohammedia that are single-sex apartments, similar to dorms with a house mother.

The reality is that not all children who are in need can be or will be adopted. It was amazing for me to see this wonderful facility that has been established to help those children transition through life. I was struck by the fact that the work being done here is very much in line with the Islamic concept of caring for and raising a child and it was a very far cry from my concept of an orphanage. This is not an orphanage – this is a home, and even though it’s not traditional in the sense of two parents + children it was easy to see how the bonds formed in these families are just as strong, if not stronger.

SOS operates around the world in 133 countries providing thousands of orphaned and abandoned children a safe place to live, learn and grow. While disaster relief is not their primary goal, they do offer emergency relief in regions all over the world who are reeling from natural disasters and conflict.

The last question I asked Claudia was how people could help support SOS. First, spread the word. Let other people know about the work that is being done. Second, is financial support. SOS is an NGO, meaning it does not receive financial support from the government, it is an independent organization. You can sponsor a child in Morocco for 100 dirham (about $12) a month – or an entire family for 900 dirham (about $100). This money provides support to meet the basic needs of the child. You’ll receive updates on your sponsored child twice a year and if you’re ever in Morocco, you’re welcome to visit the village and your sponsored child. For more information on sponsoring you can contact the head of donor relations in Morocco – find more information here. If there’s a specific village you’d like to sponsor from let donor relations know. For general donations or to select a different country for sponsorship, visit the main SOS-US donors page for information or donate directly.

Special thank you to SOS US team, especially Claudia Ember for arranging our visit, the Ait Ourir administrators and family that welcomed us to their home, educators who showed us around the school, and the children for allowing us to visit their home!

 

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Marking International Women’s Day in Morocco

Today is International Women’s Day, a holiday that has been celebrated since the early 1900’s when women began demanding fair pay and better working conditions. While it’s true women still are at an uneven par with men in the workplace the situation in Western nations is much better than that in the developing world. It’s easy to look through a cultural lens and judge other nations short comings, when we have so many of our own and so I hope that this post doesn’t reinforce that stereotypical view. I want to share today about some of the issues that I, and other women living in Morocco have to face.

I have to first make it clear, my situation is different than many Moroccan women. I have an advanced degree, economic options, and am largely excluded from following cultural norms and behaviors. However, I live in a residential area of Marrakech, dress, work, shop, and largely behave as any other woman living here. I have a lot of advantages in my corner, that are a result of where I happened to have been born. Everyday I see and meet women who were not.

There are organizations helping to raise money, awareness, and offer programs to help women and girls such as Global Impact. They’ve partnered with CARE, World Vision, Plan, and International Center for Research on Women to develop a Women and Girls Fund, which addresses not only the effects of gender inequality but also the root causes of it in the developing world.

Did You Know: 

  • An estimated sixty percent of women have been physically or sexually abused.
  • Women produce half of the world’s food, but own less than one percent of the world’s property.
  • Each year, about 300,000 women suffer a preventable death during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Two-thirds of the children denied primary education are girls.
  • Women and girls make up ninety-eight percent of trafficking victims.

Some of these problems are not as prevalent here. Morocco largely has good quality healthcare, though rural areas still struggle. Primary education is compulsory for boys and girls. But, there are big issues relating to physical and sexual abuse.

Recently I saw this short documentary/film that was a part of the Marrakech Biennele;

 

 

The film is about how the victims of rape and sexual abuse feel. Roughly translated it says;

She’ll live with it her whole life, hating herself. She can’t tell her parents. Her life stops when no one comes to help her. Society looks down at her, like she did something horrible. Society says that if the girl gets raped no one wants to marry her, or wants anything to do with her. Why? The man is innocent until they prove he is guilty. The girl she’s immediately guilty until she can prove that she’s innocent. What kills society is the shame and guilt in the society that feels the guilt and shame. I went to court and I was thinking they would help me get my dignity back. No one helps these victims. 

This is a real problem. Sexual abuse and harassment happens daily. This is a real problem. Sexual abuse and harassment happens daily. Global Impact’s Women and Girls Fund is investing and addressing these types of gender based violence’s, which happen daily to women all around the world. People might blame the behavior of a girl, what she’s wearing, how she’s walking – anything. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been the recipient of comments when I’m dressed in a full length djallaba and headscarf. I can only imagine what it’s like for others, for Moroccan girls who are going about their daily lives and deal with this behavior. On an administrative level, there is work being done to make changes. There, not so long ago, was a loophole in a law that would allow a rapist to marry his victim and thus escape punishment (for him). This loophole has now been closed. However just this week a woman who killed her (repeated) rapist was sent to prison for ten years for his murder after authorities would not help her.

But, this isn’t to say everything is terrible. I smile when I think of the old man who works as a car park guardian outside my school. He always greets me with a smile wishing me “trek slama binti” (have a safe trip my daughter). Or the men who don’t think twice about stepping in if they see a woman being harassed. Things are changing, slowly.

There are also organizations helping to raise money, awareness, and offer programs to women and girls. This is why programs such as Gloabal Impact are so critical. Here in Morocco programs like the Amal Center (one of my favorite causes in Marrakech) and others work to train disadvantaged women in career paths that will help them earn a living and support their families. Women’s cooperatives like this rug weaving co-op in the Dades Valley give women a safe place to work and earn a living.

Berber Womens Cooperative

To find out more about Global Impact you can connect with them on Twitter , Facebook, YouTube, and on the International Women’s Day Page.

Disclaimer: This post is a part of a sponsored awareness program that seeks to help women and girls everywhere live healthy lives wherein they are protected, respected, educated and empowered to reach their potential. Visit www.togetherforwomen.org.

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Lunch with Little Gamal

“Are you hungry?”

Yes – I didn’t eat all day.

“Sit down with us. What do you want to eat? Do you want a shwarma?”

It was a hot afternoon and after running errands we stopped into a sandwich shop to get something for lunch. That’s when we met Gamal. He was 7. He took a taxi with his mom from Ourika to Marrakech, him to sell packets of tissues to anyone willing to spend 1 dH for something they probably didn’t need, and her to sell sweets.

Ourika Valley Morocco

“Do you go to school?”

Yes I go to school, I’m in 2nd grade this year.

The waiter brought our plates; sandwiches, fries, and a Sprite.

He was polite and quiet, squirting ketchup onto the plate but only a little – not like my son of the same age who would not have thought twice about adding way more than he needed. Gamal wiped the drops that fell off the plate to the table and licked it off his fingers.

“Do you have brothers and sisters?”

Yes, one little brother. He’s 3.

Slowly he nibbled his sandwich but only a little. I wondered why he wasn’t eating when he was hungry.

“Why aren’t you eating walidi (my son)?”

I’m saving some for my mom and brother.

I was fighting tears for most of the meal. Imagining the weight sitting on his little shoulders, feeling the pain in his mothers heart knowing how she must struggle just to feed her boys; and how the aches of hunger are nothing compared to the pain of knowing begging is the only way they might be full that night.

Boy in Morocco

Here, poverty is everywhere. For many it’s a hand to mouth existence.  People don’t worry about how they’re going to make it through the month, for many it’s a question of how they’ll make it through the day. Will they make enough today to feed themselves tonight?

1 in 8 people around the world suffer from chronic hunger.  In the developing world, the increasing price of staple foods coupled with stagnant wages makes it increasingly difficult for people to feed themselves. The Moroccan government has long subsidized the cost of staples such as milk and wheat and just last month the prices of food and fuel were increased due to a cut back in subsidies that had protected consumers from the real costs of goods. It’s a political calculation as much as much as a humanitarian decision.

Today is World Food Day and October Hunger Awareness Month. Hunger is a real problem around the globe and it’s not because people are lazy or they want to take advantage of “the system.”  Americans waste billions of tons of food each year, just reducing consumption can make a big difference.  I found this infographic on the World Food Day website that shows some of the statistics on waste.
world food day

 

Other ways to get involved can include donating to your local food bank, raising awareness in your community and on social media, or challenging yourself to budget better and consume less (the food stamp challenge or trying to eat on $1 a day are good examples).

There are so many stories here that I want to tell, and sometimes there is too much sadness, too many hardships, especially when it comes to children.  I recently read this article on Slate about why tourists should not give money to child beggars, no matter how many good intentions they have.  I have to agree.

I’d love to know, what are some of the ways you have gotten involved to help fight hunger in your local or global neighborhood?

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Dear Ladies in the Booth Behind Us

Dear Ladies in the Booth Behind Us,

I know you are just here with your friend to share an ice cream cone, but I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation you’ve having. I know there’s a lot of information that bombards you all day long, and I’ll be the first to admit that the Fox News channel the restaurant has on doesn’t provide the best “balance” of opinion. But, I still couldn’t help but cringe when I heard your comments.

Those people, “over there“, those “Moooozlems” that are “hell-bent on Sharia…”

Well, you’ve already got the story wrong.

Your friend spoke up and said “Sharia?” to which you respond, “you know they don’t give the women any rights, those poor women.”

“That’s why they’re protesting, they hate us, they hate us because they want to be like us.”

They do, they want what we have, but right now it’s all about Sharia. That’s why they want to get rid of this guy, they want the sharia. You know I just don’t get them.”

I’m ashamed I didn’t come sit down next to you. To shake your hand and introduce yourself. It might have been the only chance you had in this small Midwestern town to meet real “Moozlems.” To see that we don’t really hate you. But, I stood there frozen, wishing and praying that the moment would pass, praying that my sons didn’t hear you.

As you got up to go on with your day, you smiled at my son, and complimented me on your way out the door on how well my boys behaved and how adorable they were.

But did you know that one day they would be them?

Did you see that we’re a family just like yours? That we love this country, and we don’t want to “be like them,” because we are like you – just like you. We might pray different, and lead a different lifestyle, but fundamentally we’re the same. Today we’ll wave an American flag at a parade, and we’ll watch fireworks go off – celebrating America’s birthday.

Not because we want to be like you – but because we are like you.

I’m sorry I didn’t say anything. I’m sorry that I missed the one opportunity to help you see that, to help you understand. I’m even more sorry that my boys had to hear the disgust in your voice.

So lady in the booth behind me, the next time I happen to hear a conversation like this I promise to speak up.

Sincerely,

The “Moozlem” Lady in the Booth Behind You

 

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8 Gr8 Healthy Recipes for Kids

The first time I saw a hungry child I thought my heart would break. You don’t have to look far to see it but I’ve seen chronic hunger and it’s a different face than anything I’ve ever experienced in the United States. That’s why I’m sharing this post as a part of my work with Mom Bloggers for Social Good  Global Team of 200 to raise awareness for Save the Children’s Nutrition Campaign.

8 Gr8 Healthy Kids Recipes

Next week global leaders, including President Obama will be meeting in London for the G8 Summit.  I am someone who firmly believes global nutrition deserves a spot on their agenda. Save the Children’s latest report, Food for Thought, highlights that 165 million children around the world are chronically malnourished.  Malnourishment can lead to some expected impacts like stunted growth but did you know;

  • malnourished children score lower on tests and are nearly 20% less likely to be able to read by age 8
  • childhood malnutrition cuts future earnings by at least 20%
  • current childhood malnutrition could cost the global economy $125 billion dollars by the time today’s children grow up

Hunger is not just a problem in the far flung corners of the world. No, some 13 million children in the United States live in homes with limited access to a sufficient food supply. It should be a priority of everyone, and especially those in positions of power, to ensure the world’s children have a reliable, and consistent source of nutrition.

Nutrition doesn’t just mean eating anything, it’s important that children are fed a well balanced, nutrient dense diet. While I am blessed to have food to feed my family, I do struggle when my boys, and especially my youngest, reject the foods they most need to eat. So, today I’m also sharing 8 Gr8 healthy recipes for kids.  Most of these are hands-on, meaning kids can help.  If kids help make it, they’re much more likely to eat it!

Moroccan Egg and Meatball Tajine

Moroccan Egg and Meatball Tajine

Kids can help mix up the meatballs, roll them out and arrange in the tajine.

Corn Couscous and Shrimp

Corn Couscous and Spicy Shrimp and Peas

Little balls of corn grains make this dish fun to look at and eat.  Served communally, it adds to the appeal.

Shawarma Chicken

Slow Cooker Chicken Shwarma

This is an easy, low-cost, and healthy recipe to prepare. The real fun for kids comes with filling their sandwich with chicken and toppings.

Moroccan Chicken and Rice Soup

Moroccan Chicken and Rice Soup

Soup is one of the most economical meals to make.  Chicken soup is world known for its’ healing powers. I promise your kids will love this!

Tandoori Spiced Popcorn

Tandoori Spiced Popcorn

A snack you can feed your kids that is good for them too! Spices like turmeric, ginger, and cumin have health benefits! Tons of flavor – no junk!

peanut butter banana cookies

Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

While these do have sugar in them, you’ll get close to 50 small cookies from a single batch.  My kids can’t get enough of them!

Homemade Granola for The Leftover Swap

Almond Cardamom Granola 

Whole grain oats, spices, and nuts – you’ll never buy granola again. This is a healthy low-cost breakfast and snack option.

Avocado Smoothie

Avocado Almond Smoothie 

What kid isn’t going to love green juice? They don’t have to know this is full of good vitamins. It’s between us.

If you would like to show your support for this cause you can send a tweet to encourage leaders to pay attention, and yes they do listen when there are enough voices! You can also read Save the Children’s Food for Thought report for the latest information on world child hunger.

[tbpquotable] @whitehouse let’s make sure all kids get healthy food in their #next1000days so they can reach their full potential. #Nutrition4Growth[/tbpquotable]

mombloggers

 

Disclaimer: I am a part of the Global Team of 200 Moms.  Each month I will be highlighting organizations and causes to spread awareness about global issues of importance.  I am not compensated in any way for this post. 

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It’s 12:30am and I have terrible insomnia.  While I have spent the last 45 minutes pinning things on Pinterest (which by the way you should totally join me!) it dawned on me that I’ve never shared much about our immigration tale.  One of my goals for this year is to expand beyond recipes and provide much more information about culture, travel and raising bi-cultural kids.  Our immigration story is probably similar to many others who have navigated the bureaucratic backwaters that are the USCIS (formerly known as the INS). However, there’s a whole lot being said in the news right now about immigration reform and I realize that a lot of people have no idea what it’s like to go through the immigration process.

Right now, we’re in the sunny Caribbean enjoying our first vacation as a family where MarocBaba has a blue American passport.  Not only is this piece of paper great in that patriotic kind of way it makes our life 100x easier when traveling.  I really mean it.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start at the beginning.

A lot of people think the typical story for an immigrant marrying an American citizen goes a little something like this.

first

We met, fell in love and wanted to get married. This is one of our first pictures together

Boy Meets Girl.

They fall in love.

They get married.

Boy hops on the next plane to America. 

Boy is given American citizenship or at least a shiny “green card” on entry.

Wrong!

Here’s how it really went (and goes for bi-national couples with hopes of immigrating from around the world.)

MarocBaba and I met the day before New Year’s Eve in 2004. We only spent a few days together before I had to leave. Once I was back in the US we continued to talk regularly though there was hesitation on my part, largely due to the volume of comments and assumptions everyone made about his intentions. “Surely he just wants a green card.  There’s no way you could really meet and fall in love with someone that fast! He’s going to kidnap you!” I went back to Morocco a few months later and MarocBaba proposed. I accepted and we realized we had to figure out this immigration thing pronto.  Now, before you say “ah ha – he was after the green card” slow down.  We had a lengthy conversation about which country would offer us the best chance of a good life.  We were both very young, I was still in college and job opportunities in Morocco were few and far between.  We wanted a family and felt that living in the US was the best choice. I would have been just as happy to live in Morocco.

When I returned home I began to scour the internet for everything I could find about immigration. I thought we would have to get married before we could start the process but discovered a visa called a K-1 or a fiance visa.  This fit our situation perfectly.  It also would make my family happy, as they would be able to meet MarocBaba before we were hitched.  I never considered hiring an attorney as well frankly it wasn’t in the budget! Instead I spent a solid week sorting through the forms that we needed to file out, the documents that had to be collected and gathering the proof that we had a genuine relationship – because that’s the real test in this situation. There were forms that had to be FedEx’d from Morocco and fees, $350 just to file the application.  This is the point in the process where I began to understand why people choose to come to the US through non-legal means.  If I as a well educated, native English speaking, citizen had to spend so much time understanding and properly filling out these forms how in the world would someone who doesn’t speak English or isn’t able to understand all of the procedures to file paperwork correctly?

Finally I mailed our paperwork to the abyss.  

You may think that’s an odd word choice but that’s what it is.  Depending on the state you live in your paperwork is sent to a specific processing center.  It then could be forwarded onto ANOTHER center but maybe not.  The thing is, you never really know where it is or what’s going on.  I’ve joked with other girlfriends going through the process that the standard operating procedure for this is;

  • receive application
  • cash check immediately
  • toss paperwork into a big drum (think giant BINGO balls)
  • every few days randomly pull out a file and work on it

At this point in the process the clerk is determining if you’ve met all the requirements in the application (which truth be told are few).  Did you submit proof that you’ve met in the last 2 years? Did you fill out the form correctly? Are either of you on any watch lists or FBI most wanted posters?

No?

Good, Pass Go.  Do NOT collect $200.

We made it through this process in about 4 months time.  Our papers then were sent to the State Department. There were some background checks run on MarocBaba and then everything is tucked into a diplomatic pouch (sent via DHL) and flown to Casablanca. Yay – we’re almost there!

At this point we’re creeping up on 6 months since the paperwork was originally filed. Then we heard nothing.  Everyday MarocBaba would check the mail to see if his packet from the consulate had arrived but it didn’t.  I contacted our representative (yay Ron Kind!) and had a congressional inquiry filed as to the status of our case.  Shortly after this was done, our interview date and the miracle packet arrived.

Then it’s off to the doctor.  But not just any doctor.  The US State Department has a list of approved doctors that all visa applicants can go to.  You can’t go to anyone else and in our case none of the choices were in Marrakech. MarocBaba made an appointment with one of the approved doctors, made the trek to Casablanca for the day long ordeal.  A standard physical, some chest x-rays, STD testing and immunizations took the better part of the day and ate up some more money.  All that was left was the visa interview.

Three weeks after the packet showed up it was time for the big day.  I was in Morocco visiting and we took the train to Casablanca for the interview, more cash in hand to pay the visa fee.  Oddly enough I wasn’t allowed to go into the consulate. At 9am, as we were instructed, MarocBaba was waiting in line and I sat across the street in a cafe.

ALL DAY.

He came out at lunch time but hadn’t had the interview yet.  I was sick to my stomach worrying what was taking so long to get to him. He told me a lot of men were turned away.  I got even more nervous.  He went back after lunch and I sat some more. Finally around 4pm he came out.  They told him to come back the next day to pick up his passport and visa. I was shocked.  We had heard that almost every man applying for a visa ended up in a process known as AP or advanced processing – essentially more background checks.  We weren’t prepared to get the visa right away! After spending the night we went back at the appointed time and sure enough he was given his passport with the visa. We went back to Marrakech with big smiles on our faces.  Though I now realize the moment was bittersweet for him.

I wanted him to come home with me immediately, to buy the tickets and return with me but he wanted a little more time to get his things together and say goodbye to his family. I remember being angry at the time but I realize now I wasn’t being very fair.  I should have given him more time to do what he needed to do.  One week after I arrived home he landed in Minneapolis.  In January.

His first words off the plane, “There’s so much ice….”

There was no immediate citizenship or green card.  There was only a warning “Get married in 90 days or you will be out of status.”

So we did. 

Married within 90 days

Married within 90 days

You’ll never believe what came next…more paperwork!!!!

After we were married we had to file to adjust his status.  Guess how much that costs…nearly $1,100.  We were married in April, filed the paperwork right away and it wasn’t until after Thanksgiving that our paperwork had been filed, another interview was conducted – we had to prove our relationship with such things like joint bills, financial accounts, life insurance policies, etc).  I was 8 months pregnant at the interview and was told our pregnancy didn’t count as proof of a relationship.  Just that we had “done the deed.”  Eventually MarocBaba was approved and his temporary green card was sent.

Yes, temporary -good for 2 years.

I graduated from university while MarocBaba waited for his greencard application to process.

I graduated from university while MarocBaba waited for his green card application to process.

Did I mention that from the time he came in January until he had his green card he couldn’t work, enroll in school or travel outside of the US – not even if he was going to Morocco?  It was a rough year.

This was shortly before MarocBaba's citizenship application was approved.

This was shortly before MarocBaba’s citizenship application was approved.

One year and nine months after his first green card was granted we applied for his permanent green card.  At the two year nine month mark he would be eligible to apply for US Citizenship but without the permanent green card no application for citizenship could be filed. This form was $595 to file. Though it was a relatively painless part of the process aside from waiting six months for it to be completed.  We had another interview and another round of questions about the validity of our marriage.  Shortly after the card came in the mail we were able to apply for US Citizenship. More paperwork to mine through and another $595 were submitted for this round.  MarocBaba had to study for the naturalization test, which wasn’t terribly difficult and attend another interview with USCIS.

The day of the oath ceremony I swore I was going to burn all of our immigration files.  But I’ve still got them because you just never know!

Citizenship granted! 6 years after meeting, 4 years after marriage.

Citizenship granted! 6 years after meeting, 4 years after marriage.

So the next time someone makes a comment about “foreigners marrying Americans for citizenship,” I hope you’ll remember a little bit of what I shared. Navigating the immigration system is not easy.  It’s not cheap and it doesn’t mean automatic citizenship!

Have an immigration tale to share?  Leave me a comment!

*Note: I shared several pictures in this post so that readers could see the progression over time. My words are my words but hopefully you can see from the images how much time passed between each of the steps in the process!

 

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5 Million text for End Trafficking

January has been designated Human Trafficking Awareness month by UNICEF. It’s no surprise that human trafficking is alive and well in the United States.  Whether it’s for prostitution, indentured servitude, drug smuggling, or a myriad of other reasons, women, men and children are brought to this country and exploited.

It happens all over the world

It’s heartbreaking. 

There are many people who have no idea what other people are facing. This month UNICEF is specifically focusing on child trafficking and are urging people to help spread awareness of the problem in hopes of ending the practice.  Just a few days ago I read an article on Morocco World News about the subject of child labor in Morocco. There certainly are people brought from outside of the country to work, primarily in domestic positions.  But there also is a very big problem with child labor.  While things have improved in the past decade, girls remain vulnerable. Girls from rural villages are especially vulnerable. It is still a common practice for families to withdraw their teen and pre-teen daughters from school and send them to the bigger cities to find work as nannies or housekeepers. Sadly for many this is just the beginning of a downhill slide.

I recently wrote an article on the decree prohibiting international adoptions from Morocco.  One of the major reasons cited for this edict was to end the exploitation of Moroccan children.  It’s difficult to find any statistics as to whether or not this is an issue, or how big of a problem it is.  In the last year there have been many articles that have come out about the exploitation of Moroccan women in places like Saudi Arabia. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out many of these women faced difficult childhoods and found themselves in bad situations they couldn’t get out of.

No matter where you live, this is an important issue.  Every child deserves the opportunity to grow to an adult in a safe environment.  The question is why we as fellow human beings allow this injustice to continue.

 Some Facts on Trafficking

  • An estimated 5.5 million children are victims of trafficking, an illegal enterprise that generates an estimated $32 billion in yearly profits.
  • Human trafficking cases have been reported in every state in the United States. Rates are particularly high in California, Texas, Florida, and New York.
  • he U.S. Fund for UNICEF has launched The End Trafficking project to raise awareness about child trafficking and mobilize communities within the United States to take meaningful action to help protect children. In partnership with concerned individuals and groups, the initiative aims to bring us all closer to a day when ZERO children are exploited.
  • To learn more about the End Trafficking initiative, visit: http://www.unicefusa.org/endtrafficking.

 

Disclaimer: I am a part of the Global Team of 200 Moms.  Each month I will be highlighting organizations and causes to spread awareness about global issues of importance.  I am not compensated in any way for this post. 

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