A City of Decisions and Perspectives – Michelle Rodriguez


It was at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As I dredged through the midday sun, I was sure Marrakesh was on a mission to have my last brain cell leak through my ears. Heat was radiating off the merciless concrete as we inched forward through a small local neighborhood. Finally arriving within a small parking lot, I gazed up at our destination (an education center), and hoped my battle-hardened thread of sanity didn’t snap before their door opened. After we ascended the flights of stairs leading to the building’s entrance, comfortable couches and blissfully chilled juice marked the end of our journey through the concrete Sahara.

Sprawled across numerous couches, we were caught dazed in a heat induced stupor. Before the droplets of sweat accumulating on my forehead could drip down, representatives of varying NGOs filed into the sweltering room. Particularly, one organization captivated my attention and introduced me to an entire population of Moroccan residents shunned by society and government alike: the illegal children from single-mothers born outside the institution of marriage. These children are not recognized by the country nor are their fathers required by the government to provide any financial help. The identity of the father is often unknown, with single-mothers being pressured to keep this information hidden as her situation is considered shameful among the public.

Within Marrakesh, Les Enfants de L’Atlas is an orphanage that receives illegally born children from the only courthouse within the city. Their representatives showed actual interest and amazed me as they shared their goals and ongoing projects to increase the quality of life of their children. Upon the conclusion of their presentation, they invited a group of students to visit their site and observe their plans actualized into projects pending completion. Immediately, I was overwhelmingly eager to interact with their children and simultaneously irresolute in the impact of this action and its consequences. Who am I, a student leaving the city the following day, to gawk at a group of children deprived of a traditional family? I refused to have them feel as though they were a live petting zoo meant to appease potential donors. Morally, my decision was fixed in a limbo between potentially impacting the orphanage’s residents on a spectrum of negative and positive outcomes.



As cooler temperatures dominated my surroundings, they were accompanied by the setting sun’s waning, yet relentless, supervision. That night’s edition of “Late Night Thoughts to Chew On” starred a frequent guest named Indecisiveness. Although Indecisiveness does tend to entertain the audience till morning, they also prevent other thoughts to take shape. In the end, I decided to join the visiting group. The opportunity of making a difference for even a single child outweighed the uncertain outcome of such a visit.

Upon arriving, the orphanage immediately surprised me with how importantly the staff and caretakers conducted their activities among the children. Houses were meticulously clean, kitchens with granite countertops, men and women vigilantly overseeing playful children scattered underneath the cool shade. Unfortunately, the older children were on a field-trip to a local farm, but I was glad I came.

Although the visit had questionable outcomes, seeing as the children who were there are unlikely to remember the experience, my intentions were to do the most I could during the short period of time I had with them. In the end, doing the best we can with what we have is the only thing one can do. I saw this in the orphanage (as an organization) with ambitious goals, the caretakers in their attempts to create a unique familial community, and among the children as they squirmed about simply enjoying the plentiful company. Despite much needed reform on fundamental issues surrounding the need for such an orphanage, the organization was attempting to do the most with their situation.

1 comment to A City of Decisions and Perspectives – Michelle Rodriguez

  • Collene

    Wonderful report.

    It’s wonderful that there is a place that will take the illegitimate children in. It’s also very sad that these children are kept separated from society because of circumstances out of their control.

    Praise God for people who are willing to care for these children, and I’m sure love and nurture them as they grow. Hopefully, the children will somehow have a good self-esteem as adults.

    Thank you for deciding to spend time with the little ones!

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