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A Dunedin man is hoping 33 children will not suffer as a result of the Moroccan authorities' decision to expel his son, daughter-in-law and about 16 other foreign nationals who worked for the Village of Hope in the North African country.
Roland Broadbent's son Chris (35), daughter-in-law Tina (33) and their two sons William (2) and Samuel (1) were yesterday escorted by police in a bus convoy to the port city of Tangiers to await deportation to Spain, apparently for trying to raise the children in the village as Christians.
The village, in the Moroccan Middle Atlas region, provides foster care in a family environment for abandoned infants and children.
His son, who grew up in Dunedin and lived in Auckland before deciding to undertake volunteer service for two years, had been the human relations manager for the village for the past 18 months, Dr Broadbent said.
"They had been able to contribute quite a lot.
"They were delightful children whom they really enjoyed working with."
Dr Broadbent was keeping in contact with the family by phone and last night (NZ time) they were in a Tangiers hotel waiting to board a boat to Spain.
"Their greatest concern is the welfare of the children left behind with no apparent proper provision in the short-term for their care."
It was likely the children would end up in a state-run orphanage, Dr Broadbent said.
"We're comforted by the fact the king has taken an interest in orphanages . . but nothing replaces the family you grew up in."
Mr Broadbent said on the village's website that some of the children had been there for 10 years and had not known another mother.
"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."
They had always been open about their faith to the authorities and for 10 years the authorities had allowed the village to take in abandoned children, he said.