Twisting my hair in her tiny hands, her brown eyes,–no–her entire body laughed. Even before I picked her up, she shook with glee, stiffened her legs, and tried to jump from the straps of her baby seat into my arms. I thought of my own little girl at six months so precious and full of life. One by one we unbuckled them from seats lined in front of cartoons and held them. The sunny room was abuzz with babies four months to a year old smiling, blowing bubbles, crawling, playing.
Except one. His eyes followed the jingly toy but without expression.He seemed to be observing quietly but didn’t reach, didn’t move, didn’t respond to us. I raised him above my head and flew him like an airplane. He smiled, then chuckled. I laughed and cried.
Jodie, one of my coworkers, went to an older boy who lay staring at the lights on a toy truck. She asked one of caretakers the Arabic word for truck and began talking to the boy. Though he couldn’t walk, he came alive—delighting in playing with Jodie, then creating a game of crawling away at lightening speed and being carried back giggling upside down on Sylvie’s shoulder. In another room Bev and Jason played with other disabled children confined to beds by disabilities.
In the midst of an orphanage in a troubled world, beautiful bright-eyed babies look into eyes of older souls in a two-way exchange of wonder, poignancy, and peace. The Association Enfance Espoir Maroc or “Crib of Hope” cares for healthy and handicapped children, most aged 0-3 who were abandoned and found on the streets. Moroccans may adopt them, and volunteers may donate time or resources. Sponsoring a child for one year costs 1000 dirhams ($100 USD). For more information on how to help go here. We were asked not to photograph the children’s sweet faces, but you can see their home (for now) below.