Rabat – 24-year-old Mehdi Benkirane is a Moroccan orphan who turned his tragedies into successful story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. In order to learn more Mehdi Benkirane’s life, Morocco World News interviewed him to highlight his career and his startup organization’s main objectives.MWN: Could you please introduce yourself? Mehdi Benkirane: My name is Mehdi Benkirane, founder and president of Children of the Heart.MWN: What are your motivations behind creating this organization?Mehdi Benkirane: The drive I have for creating this organization comes from my adoptive mother. I was born as an orphan and I’ve never met my biological parents. My biological parents left me in a charity center in Fez when I was only four months old. Since I was a child, my adoptive mother used to take me to the charity center to see my orphan friends so I wouldn’t forget my roots. After many years of social work, I came up with the idea of creating a similar organization in Rabat.MWN: What are the requirements for someone who wants to join Children of the Heart?Mehdi Benkirane: Our doors are open to everyone, especially Moroccan youth because we are in dire need of youth. Joining us is very easy because we are not asking for any money upon joining, but rather basic materials like clothes, baby bottles and simple medicines. We are also trying as much as possible to provide our children with new clothing so that they don’t feel any more different from their outside friends than they already do. We really want to provide them with new items only.MWN: Do you receive any financial support from the government?Mehdi Benkirane: Unfortunately, the government does not provide us with any financial support; I only receive moral support from our Head of Governmen, Abdelilah Benkirane. I would love to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Othman Benjelloun and Mrs. Ghita Zniber for providing us with help whenever we needed it.MWN: What are Children of the Heart’s main goals or objectives?Mehdi Benkirane: We are asking the Moroccan government to ratify a proposal to protect orphans’ rights. If we protect today’s children, we will protect our future generations.MWN: Could you please elaborate more on your organization’s upcoming projects?Mehdi Benkirane: We are officially announcing today for MWN readers that we plan to inaugurate eighteen children centers across Morocco, starting in 2015 in collaboration with the National Observatory of Children’s Rights.MWN: Would you please share with our readers the best and worst moments of your life thus far?Mehdi Benkirane: To be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting this question. Well, I’d love to thank God from the bottom of my heart for my adoptive family, because I know that I’m lucky to even have a family. Eighty percent of orphans aren’t as lucky as I am and truly don’t have a home. I’m also extremely happy because I was able to finish my higher studies and achieve a dream I’ve had since I was a little boy. Since I was child, I’ve dreamed of being an animator and, Alhamdulillah, I recently accomplished this dream. I’ve started working at Société Nationale de Radiodiffusion et de Télévision (SNRT) three months ago. For the worst event in my life, I’d say that the threats I’ve recently received because of this famous movement in Morocco are probably the worst things to happen to me so far.MWN: Do you have anything special to add?Mehdi Benkirane: Love one another, be yourself, don’t let someone else to tell you what you are going to be or not going to be because God has created you and God doesn’t make mistakes.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
“The legacy of Chernobyl will be with us, and with our descendants, for generations to come,” the Secretary-General said in a statement. “I appeal to Member States, non-governmental organizations and private individuals, to join with me in a pledge never to forget Chernobyl. Together, we must extend a helping hand to our fellow human beings, and show that we are not indifferent to their plight.” The nuclear disaster occurred on 26 April 1986 when two explosions destroyed a reactor at a power plant not far from the Ukrainian capital, contaminating an area of over 160,000 square kilometres with the release of 50 million units of radiation.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement today that the full humanitarian impact of the disaster is not yet known to this day, and that it may be years until many medical manifestations appear. The greatest constraint to the efforts in dealing with the crisis has been the lack of adequate funding, with Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine shouldering most of the financial burden of helping their populations. According to OCHA chief Kenzo Oshima, who is also UN Coordinator for International Cooperation on Chernobyl, those three countries should not bear the sole responsibility for dealing with the crisis.At a joint press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Oshima said that the international community could and should provide tangible aid to the affected people in Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The need for international assistance was also emphasized by the three countries’ Ambassadors to the UN — Sergei Ling of Belarus, Valeriy Kuchinsky of Ukraine and Sergey Lavrov of Russia, who also took part in the press conference. Meanwhile in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a statement calling the Chernobyl accident “a tragic but important turning point” in the Agency’s work. “It prompted us to focus unprecedented energies and resources to assist the affected people and help ensure that such a serious accident would never happen again,” said IAEA Director General, Mohammed ElBaradei.To deal with the aftermath of the disaster, the UN set up a 19-member Inter-Agency Task Force on Chernobyl, which, together with non-governmental organizations, provides health care to people affected by radiation, psychosocial rehabilitation, job creation for resettled families, the study of radiation’s environmental impact, waste disposal and decontamination, as well as technical support for improved nuclear safety.