I just spent 5 days at the GiveLight orphanage in Oujda, Morocco with my 8 year old daughter Ayn. GiveLight is a foundation run by my friend Dian Alyan. The trip was unlike anything I have experienced before.
The beautiful orphanage is adorned with Moroccan architecture, and includes a comfortable salon, a prayer room, a pharmacy, a library, and a bright and airy courtyard. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed with open arms and bright smiles by a group of 26 beautiful girls, all clapping and singing in unison, “Ahlan bikum (welcome)!”
The girls, ranging in age from 6- 18, are orphans who come from poor backgrounds. They are taken care of lovingly by two house mothers, Zakia and Latefa; two live-in cooks, Yamina and Mahdiya, and about 3-4 additional staff members.
It is a credit to the GiveLight foundation that the girls were some of the happiest children I have ever seen!
We spent our days enjoying healthy, delicious meals made by loving cooks; visited the local beach, a trip sponsored by one of GiveLight’s many generous donors;
painted a mural in the courtyard featuring the names of all the children at the orphanage; did some Arabic calligraphy on Moroccan tiles;
sang songs and danced as 6 year old Maryam drummed enthusiastically on the tabla and did some online learning thanks to the computer library set up by volunteer students and teachers from the Granada Islamic school in California.
I loved how the older girls watched over the younger ones like their own siblings, combing their hair in the morning or chiding them over their messes. These teens were happy and confident, and have high hopes for their future. Three of them plan on becoming police officers; One, Manal, thoughtful and sharp, hopes to become a writer; and Sanae, proficient in memorizing large sections of the Quran, will be entering a local medical college this fall to become a physician.
I was also extremely moved by a 12 year old orphan who was diagnosed a year ago by type 1 diabetes. Her family member pleaded to me to help, for while she receives financial aid from GiveLight, she still can not afford all her medical care. As a mother of a child with type 1 diabetes, it was painful for me to hear about this girl’s situation. Without adequate medical treatment, her prognosis is likely poor.
I returned home to the US with a heart full of love for these beautiful children, admiration for the GiveLight foundation and a commitment to continue to support these girls. As Dian likes to say, these are my girls now.
Check out GiveLight foundation if you’d like to learn more or donate!
Thank you Hina for your time and generosity! We hope it inspires others to do the same.