When trust becomes the path towards integration
Right to life but not to survival, to affection not pity, to respect not rejection, to effort not charity, to help not assistance, to childhood not exploitation, to protection not repression. Thus is defined the rulebook for street children that the Bayti Association aims to enforce each day…
Casablanca, 1993. A young Moroccan pediatrician with untameable energy discovers the prison where street children are thrown when police arrest them. This woman is Najat M’Jid. For her, prison is not the solution; it does not solve problems. This is enough to trigger something in her mind to make Moroccan authorities recognize the reality of these children’s existence and to elaborate on alternative solutions. The Bayti Association, the first Moroccan program conceived in favor of street children, is one of these solutions. At the end of seven years of intense activity, permanent calling into question, and continuous broadening of the working ground, Bayti made a school beyond any of Morocco. Her method and example serve as a reference in many countries. Moreover, the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic was awarded to her in 2000, in acknowledgment of the efficiency of her actions.
Since ten years, Najat M’Jid divides her time between her profession (she is director of her clinic), her constantly developing association, and missions of council and expertise concerning child rights, for which she is more and more solicited in her country and throughout the world. After a recent survey, Najat M’Jid is growing to be one of the most popular personalities of the civil society in Morocco.
Bayti, an Alien in the ‘Street Planet’
The street: a world apart, populated by outcasts and the dissident minority, but governed by a specific way of life. The street: a place of life, of encounters, a playground, the street at night, and the street during the day. The street teacher constitutes the angular block of the multidisciplinary team that leads the fights against the exclusion of the youngest. It is the street teacher who is responsible for making the first approach: in markets, at the port, in train stations, squats … they are the only adults who ask the children for nothing in exchange. The relationship of trust they share is the path towards the long process of integration. From this work, Bayti’s efforts spread out in all directions, where the child will find their own motivation and build a life plan: learning to read and write, schooling, art workshops, sports activities, acquiring legal identity, professional apprenticeships, recovery, where possible, contact with families and a return to the family unit…
Integration In an Area
Bayti is set up in the outlying area of Casablanca. The refuge is situated here, a place of transitional accommodations for the youngest, and six apartments where the adolescents live (all schooled or in apprenticeships and surrounded by teachers), the carpentry workshop, as well as the training and production center. Even a large, vague terrain has been transformed into a garden that has quickly become a leisure activities center open to the entire area. Rare enough in a city deprived of green spaces and playgrounds.
In the heart of an area where the neighborhood exchange recreates a socially natural environment for the youngsters, a young Moroccan testifies: “I feel proud of myself, I exist, I have status. Bayti gave me the essential, knowing how to respect and have confidence in oneself. I’m alive!” Integration has been a success. The rulebook respected…
Founder: Najat M’Jid
Location: The outskirts of Casablanca: Mekhnès, Fès, Essaouira, Mohammedia, and Safi
Year association created: 1994
Domains of intervention: family reinstatement, school reinsertion, socio-professional reinsertion, reading and writing, treatment, hygiene, sports, artistic practice, self-government
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