Life Tough on the Streets
Updated: 2 November 1999
Omar, 16 years old
"My parents are divorced. My father left home two years ago to find a job and he never came back. My mother used to work in a hotel, but she was fired. I have seven brothers and sisters."
"I have been living on the streets for the past three years. My older brother also lives on the streets. I earn a living by carrying bags for people and I beg. I earn about 2 dollars a day."
"I spend 50 cents on food and 80 cents on glue. I also buy cigarettes every day. I get clothes from a religious organisation."
"I don’t plan to spend the rest of my life on the streets. I want to go back home one day."
Soufian, 15 years old
"I come from a suburb of Tangier. I have 8 brothers and sisters. My father washes cars and my mother works in a hammam (bath house)."
"I dropped out of school when I was 10. I just decided one day not to go to school. My mother beat me over the head with a bicycle pedal, but I never went back to school."
"I’ve been on the streets for three years now. I spend most of my time here, but I sometimes go back home. I beg and steal for a living. And I gamble with some of the other kids. When I have a bit of money, I save it and wait till the other guys have a lot of money. Then we gamble. I usually win, so I can get a lot of money like that."
"The glue and the cold are killing me. Can you give me something or get me out of here? I have so many problems. I’ve been robbed so many times, and I get in a lot of fights. Life is tough on the streets."
Ahmed, 14 years old
"I come from a big family: I have 14 brothers and sisters. My parents have a big house. My father is a tailor but he doesn’t earn enough to take care of all of us.
I left home 5 years ago because I had a fight with my parents. My mom said I had to earn some money to stay at home. There was another kid in my neighbourhood who was living on the streets, and I decided to join him."
"I carry bags and beg for a living. I’ll tell you how it works. I go up to somebody on the street and ask, "please could you give me some change?" Some people give me 10 cents. Others say, "sorry, I don’t have anything". That’s what I do all day long. I earn 3, 4 or maybe even 5 dollars a day. Sometimes Europeans give me 50 cents or even a dollar."
"I spend about 50 cents a day on food. I usually buy half a loaf of bread and some fries. I buy cigarettes too and glue. I also have to pay every day for the place I sleep at in the souq (market). I usually have about a dollar left over at the end of the day, and I use that to buy breakfast."
"When I get sick, I go back home. My family always says that I can only come back when I am ill. As soon as I get better, I leave again. I also visit my parents when I’ve saved up some money. If I have about 10 dollars or so, I go back and buy them something. But I can’t stay there."
"I have problems every day with the police. They beat me. What am I supposed to do? Am I just supposed to sit down and cry? I’m not a woman. So if they hit me, I hit them back."
"I hate the life I lead now. I want to leave Tangier and go back to Spain. The first time I went, I crossed the border to Ceuta illegally and then hid in a truck that was going to mainland Spain. I worked for a woman there for about a week. I took her children to school and things like that, but then the police caught me.
I dream of going back to Spain and getting all the right papers. I want to go to school there, and when I get older, I want to become a policeman."