Lost Childhood | Dahkla – Morroco


Un Dirham, s’il vous plait monsieur, un Dirham… the kids are running over the beach towards our little group stretching out their arms with open hands begging us to give them some money. From a distance I can see their father looking over from what seems a pile of old sheets and blankets but in fact is a tent, their home. Scattered along the shore are some fishing rods plugged into the sand, tensed lines are waiting for a fish to mistake the bait on the other end with its meal. The kids, dirty and in ragged cloth seem to enjoy the little interruption which the visit of our small expedition brings to their daily routine in this desolate land at the edge of the dessert. Posing for some photos, playing with our cameras and observing us with big eyes like if we were visitor from another world, which in fact we are. Every day you can see places like this on TV but it is not till you witness the situation yourself you are able to really understand the whole tragedy behind it. You have to look into the eyes of a young boy and see in them the hunger and distress he already had to experience in his short life and all that with no or little prospect that this might change any time soon.

Only a few days later, I was buying sandwiches on a food stand somewhere in Dahkla when I saw a small boy, maybe five or six years old, caring his younger brother wrapped in a blanket on his back. Nobody took notice of him, but there he was standing still in the crowd gazing into the nowhere. I kneeled down to ask him if he was hungry and while he could not understand what I was saying, by the expression in his eyes I realized the absurdity of my question. The pain of an empty stomach was probably the only constant in his life. I asked the vendor for another sandwich and some milk to fill up the empty bottle of the baby. As I was about to get the bottle of the baby he stretched his arm out so I could get it more easy. Just a simple gesture, but instantly I understood that this little human being already had suffered more than most of us have to in our whole life, completely and deeply understanding the situation, the whole tragedy of his existence which had just began. I was looking at these two kids and what I saw was two adults who had been suffering and fighting to survive ever since they where born.

More on this trip in the blog entry: The adventure to travel | Dahkla – Western Sahara

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  1. This article took me straight back to our visit to Tarfaya a few years ago. I wasn’t prepared to see barefoot children with deformed limbs looking at us with much curiosity. I didn’t have the one thing they really wanted, it was something we take for granted everyday – paper and a pen.

    I love the photo above, there’s just the tiniest hint of a smile and the boy is perfectly camouflaged with the background.

  2. Fantastisches Foto! Tolle Farben! Absolut beeindruckend und Dein Text – wie immer – ergreifend und so nah an der oft so fernen Realität. Danke und mach weiter so :-.)
    Amazing photo! Great colours! Quite powerful and your text – as usual – moving and so close reality which often is so far away. Thanks and keep up the good work 🙂

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