First steps of Young in Prison in Morocco

21 February 2018
Last week Barbara and I were invited to Morocco by Sqala association led by Catherine Barut. Catherine requested Young in Prison to conduct trainings and support in our COPOSO methodology throughout the year 2018. She runs a program for youth in the Oukacka prison in Casablanca aimed at teaching life skills using film as a medium. Catherin: “Taking part in a project that involves moving images allows one to have a different relationship to the world, develop one’s critical thinking, build one’s own opinion on things, and above all, live the experience of a collective group by meeting with filmmakers and participating in debates. It is an individual adventure to watch a film and confront one’s point of view with the director's one”.

As part of our induction in Casablanca, Catherine arranged meetings with stakeholders. We paid a visit to the Dutch Embassy in Rabat were we met with cultural officer Fransijn Bulhof. Fransijn has been the perfect matchmaker since she introduced Young in Prison to Sqala as potential partner. Consequently, the Embassy was able to fund the joined Sqala- Young in Prison program.

Catherine also introduced us to Fatna el Bouih, human rights activist and former political prisoner in Morocco. She now runs her own NGO called l'association Relais Prison-Société aimed at supporting ex-prisoners to reintegrate in Morocco. Next we visited the director of social and cultural action of the governmental agency aimed at reintegration of prisoners. The director gave his approval and above all seemed very engaged and committed in making the film projects a success. Driving back from Rabat to Casablanca we visited a closed youth care institution in Ben Slimane. Although the compound looked spacious and full of potential, two groups of children aged 6-12 and 12- 16 are apparently confined to their living room for most hours of the day. Due to lack of staff that can take care of them when they play outside. It was a sad experience to see all the kids limited to one room knowing that they are not allowed to move around freely. Hopefully we can be of support in a partnership with Sqala to improve the situation at this center.

Meeting so many people and having had so many impressions serves as a great input to develop plans for Morocco. Back in Amsterdam we will make a tailor made COPOSO training which will take place end of March in Casablanca. Thank you so much Catherine and Christine Leang, our interpreter. We are looking forward to the continuation of our partnership in order to help deprived children in Morocco to rebuild their lives and gain new skills.

Raoul Nolen, director Young in Prison

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