Chris Broadbent (a New Zealander), one of the expelled Village of Hope workers and their primary media contact, sent out the following email yesterday, Monday March 8th. It is also posted on their website (Save Village of Hope):
March 08, 2010 17:27 GMT
Dear friends We have just been called together by the authorities and told that all 20 foreigners at VoH must leave the country. They have not told us how long we have left, but it will be between 1 and 3 days. The reason given is that the abandoned children in the care of VoH have been proselytised to by us, that we are trying to make them Christian. This is despite the fact that we have always been open about our faith to the authorities, and for 10 years they have allowed VoH to take in and foster children abandoned by this society, children who would otherwise be killed or placed in state run ‘mega’ orphanages.
For us we leave friends, memories, hard work, but we leave with our children William and Samuel. For others it is not so easy. 33 children have just been abandoned again by the actions of the Moroccan state. Their foster mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, must now leave them in Morocco and return to their home countries. These 33 children have never known another mother. Some of them have been here for 10 years, since the start of VoH. One of the older children just said to Tina, ‘Why couldn’t I have real parents’. Watching the children be told by their parents that they had to leave, that they would maybe never see them again, is the most painful thing I have ever witnessed. Please pray for the children of Village of Hope, and for their parents and foster siblings who they must now farewell.
And underneath are the everlasting arms.
We are blessed with such a large and diverse community who cares for the Village of Hope. Many of the people that went with me on my mission trip to VoH in March 2009 live in New York and L.A., but are from all over the globe. This is amazing, as we have a unique opportunity to reach out to our home communities and spread the word!
As of today, we have new updates on the children, as well as progress on our efforts to get this story to the media, and most importantly, to government officials who can take action.
Tina Broadbent, Chris' wife, spoke to us, letting us know the children are being kept by some of their teachers, which is good news as it means they are with people who care for them. This, however, will only last for ten days, after which they will likely be put back into orphanages. Tina is concerned the Moroccan government will break up family groups (groups of orphans who are siblings under the same family) when they are put into orphanages. Pray that this does not happen.
Our team is working to reach our contacts at the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the State Department, The Vice Consulary General of Morocco here in NY, the UN, the Moroccan embassy in D.C., members of Capitol Hill, the Department of Justice in DC (specifically OPDAT), as well as our local representatives. A member of our team is in India for a year with International Justice Mission (IJM), and is working hard to gain press coverage on that side of the globe. We are literally working around the clock and around the world to gain as much coverage and attention to this terrible injustice as we can.
Things to pray for:
-The children, who are undoubtedly terrified and scared. That they would not feel a sense of abandonment. That they would know their parents love them so much and would never, ever leave them by their own will. That they would be able to remain together in family units if placed back in orphanages. That those with disabilities or medical conditions would get the proper care (care that often their parents only knew how to give them), and that their health and safety would not be neglected.
-The parents, who are gut-wrenchingly torn away from their children indefinitely. Many of their children have been with them since birth (children who are now 10), and their hearts are broken. Pray for their guidance as they figure out what to do next and how to deal with the Moroccan government moving forward. Pray they get to see their children again.
-The Moroccan Government, including the King and Minister of Justice Naciri, that God would move in their hearts and change them. That they would see what they have done and repent, and bring these parents back home to their children. These people need grace just like us, please pray for them.
-Our government, that they would take the necessary steps in doing their part to correct this wrongdoing. That our president and leaders would have guidance and discernment led by God to move forward as appropriate.
-The people of Morocco as a whole. We just got news this might be happening to other children's homes there as well as Christians in general there. Please pray for an immediate change in the heart of Narcisi.
-For our team, who is working tirelessly for these children. We will not give up. We will not.
What you can do:
SPREAD THE WORD. You have my full permission to repost to anyone and everyone you know, as well as give them my contact information below. I am willing to talk to press, officials, anyone, anytime day or night, to bring awareness to this issue. The press release in the last post can also be forwarded to media outlets, congressmen, whomever.
Frequently Asked Questions (answers from Chris Broadbent):
What do they think will happen to the kids, and how did they leave them? In someone's care or alone at the facility? We asked this time and again, and were simply told that the ‘state’ would take care of them. When the parents left the site under guard at 10.30pm, there was, to my knowledge, no one with the children apart from a group of about 20 male police (gendarmerie royale) who were just standing around outside or going through files in the admin office. We have heard nothing since. All of the employees have been told by the police that they are sacked. **We now have more info, as stated above.
What is the nature of their expulsion? Permanent or "pending charges." No ‘charges’ as such, they simply read out a formal declaration to us saying that we had been proselytising, and therefore were breaking the law, so our residency was revoked on the spot meaning we were now illegally in the country, and would be deported.
Will charges be filed? Not that I’m aware of, and all foreigners are now out of the country.
Will funds/facility be seized? Yes. At our reckoning there was about 260,000dh in the accounts, and about 30,000dh in the cash box on site. This is all money donated to VoH by overseas donors for use to operate the organisation or fund specific projects.
These very children I'm hugging in the pictures in the previous post no longer have parents, wow. Feel free to print and forward these as well.
Many thanks and blessings,