Dar Bouazza is located 25km west of Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco with a major port on the Atlantic coast. Casablanca is an industrial and commercial centre that has around 3.9 million inhabitants. The city is characterized by great contrasts: luxurious beaches and villas encircled by shantytowns called “bidonvilles.” Tens of thousands of people live in precarious conditions in the bidonvilles of Casablanca, in sub-standard housing, often without running water or sanitation.
Since 2000, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Dar Bouazza.
Due to the harsh social and economic conditions, child labour remains a major problem in Morocco. Many families simply cannot survive without the financial contribution of their children. This is often the case for girls who have to work as domestic servants in the cities.
Many children also work in handicrafts, making carpets and other goods to sell to tourists. According to some estimates, 34,000 children under the age of 15 work.
Despite government efforts, it is estimated that over 9% of the Moroccan population continues to live in slums, especially in Casablanca. Life in these informal settlements is tough: overcrowding, drugs, commercial sexual exploitation and crime are part of everyday life.
For children growing up in such conditions, it can be incredibly difficult to break the cycle of poverty, especially if their home life is characterised by instability and violence. Furthermore, children from such backgrounds are stigmatised by society, which can lead to lowered self-esteem and affect the child's life chances