By Said El Azhary
By Said El Azhary
Morocco World News
Fez, February 25, 2012
“The role of society and the psychological health of abandoned children” that was held in Fez on February 22, 2012 had been organized by ‘Alwafae’, an establishment which specializes in the protection of abandoned children. This symposium featured renowned speakers who shared experiences and provided the public with insightful information regarding this phenomenon.
From the very beginning of this symposium, the director of the Alwafae association described their role and emphasized the collaboration between social assistance agencies that help and protect abandoned children. Their critical work hopefully helps such children integrate successfully and feel no different from others in Moroccan society.
On her part, Professor Kawtar Raiss, a child specialist and therapist, explained clinical ideas regarding the phenomenon of abandoned children. She began talking about theories of abandoned children that had been discovered during the second World War. She mentioned that in the twentieth century, psychologists minimized the level of abandoned children by helping affected families. Moreover, she emphasized the development of the relationship between mother and child as essential for survival in the early years: the innate imperative for the new-born baby to be linked to caregivers.
In contrast, the life of abandoned children is very different, because from the very beginning, they have no relation to families in general and to mothers in particular. She raised the question, “did they already have a mother to lose?” that clearly moved the audience and changed their perception of the lonely world of abandoned children.
Professor Mastapha Zizi, a specialist and therapist, discussed the “Institutional Psychiatric Care of Abandoned Children.” He indicated that when a child loses one’s family, it is hard to even say words like mother, father and grandparents. The child forms a bond with the mother with whom he/she develops since an early age, which is a special bond of love and affection. Then, he/she discovers that she is not there to offer care and protection. Consequently, the child will probably raise the following question: “where is my mother who is supposed to protect me in the weakness of childhood? Who will protect me if not her, the very one who brought me into existence?”
He went on to say that, “we, as educators, parents and civil society, are all here to provide education and social guidance and offer an alternative of protection as caregivers.” He added, “So let us ask ourselves: Are we true to what we are trying to do? Can we be effective parents to these children?”
Professor Zizi talked about his deep experience from many years working with associations, which are interested in child abandonment. There are hard situations, but they attempt to provide “the spirit of mother” and the strong existence of “ideal father”. They provide a substitution service, both educationally and emotionally. They create a system hand in hand with the same principles of the natural realm of caregivers. Ultimately, “the child should feel little difference: he/she is like everybody else!” said the professor.
Saida Benkirane, a psychologist specializing in psychiatric treatment in the private sector and a professor of Psychology of Violence at the Faculty of Art and Humanities in Fez, also shed light on this topic through her presentation entitled “An Experience of a Specialist nex tto Abandoned Children.”
This example paved the way to talk about her personal experiences as a psychologist in “parentless centers”. She mentioned that many hard experiences were ingrained in her memory, most of them like notes and personal points of views. To make positive impacts needs effort. She stressed that nothing can be achieved without team-work between social assistance agencies and educational establishments.
When all the positive points are united for practical purposes using well-organized methods, much can be achieved. Very simply, as humanitarian agencies, we need to cooperate to give a helping hand to these children. In doing so we open horizons and extend opportunities to them and encourage their personal journeys of self-discovery, where they are free to express themselves and to explore the world around them.
Abandoned children will always need psychologists and social workers and educators to work together to help them, to try to provide the essentials that abandoned children need for healthy development. She emphasized the importance of collaboration between society and the ‘parentless centers’ and the ideal conditions that could be created. Her message was that collaboration spreads its kindness.