Rabat – A photo of an 11-year-old Moroccan boy, surrounded by uniformed police officers with his arms piled with homework and textbooks, has gone viral in Italy.
The photo, which Italian media has titled “the boy with books,” is serving as a representation of children everywhere trying to receive an education in unstable and chaotic living conditions.
The photo was taken in Primaville, north-west of Rome, as police in riot gear raided an abandoned building where almost 350 people from Morocco, Romania, Ethiopia, Algeria, and Tunisia had been squatting.
Thirty minors were among the migrants from the building, who were moved to a migrant center. The boy pictured, named Rayane, was among them.
Taken by surprise, the families were forced to leave the building with only what they could grab in the rush, says the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Rayanne’s first instinct was to grab his school books, clearly yellowed and damaged. Photographers immortalized the moment. The young Moroccan boy told journalists on the scene that books are deeply important to him.
Italian media reports that Rayanne comes from a very poor family, with his father running a booth at a local flea market as the family’s only source of income. Rayanne attends a small school in the neighborhood and is reportedly extremely diligent in his studies.
Thousands of euros raised to help Rayanne
Some were so touched by the displaced boy’s dedication to his schooling in the midst of the chaos that a Gofundme page has been created to help Rayanne and other children like him get an education.
The photo “is the mirror of today’s Italy, which hates culture, takes it out on the weakest and has destroyed all hope of social improvement,” reads the Gofundme page.
“Rayane is Moroccan, and he badly wants to study,” the page continued. “He promised his math teacher to graduate.”
“Rayane, like all children, foreign or Roman, has the right to study, a right that Salvini’s Italy wants to cancel. We launched this support campaign to allow him to continue his studies.”
Famiglie Accoglienti (Host Family), an Italian NGO that started the crowdfunding campaign, have already raised €9000. They vow to use the funds “exclusively to help all children evicted in Primavalle and dispersed in various makeshift accommodation tens of kilometers from what had been their home for twenty years with their studies.”
“We must hurry, we want Rayane and his companions to return to school in September with all their books and a roof over their heads,” Host Family finished their call for donations by saying.