Monday, 4 July 2011


Give them the gift of time to heal their wounds


As most of you will probably already know Habiba and Alma are back together twenty-three days after the IMMF decided to take custody of the little one in a totally unjustified manner.

Mother and daughter still hug each other in disbelief of everything they have gone through.Trying to forget the harshness of the days they were separated.

Thanks to the solidarity of many of you Habiba has got a job and keeping it is a major priority for her, but for now the separation is so hard for Alma that her mum can not leave her to go to work . Alma does not allow anyone else to take care of her or hold her, and she gets very anxious when she is not making contact with her mother... she needs to regain trust, much love and time to try to re-establish breastfeeding without timetables or restrictions. (Have also tried to go together to work, but this is proven too hard for Alma, since she now demands all of her mother's attention.)


There has been many of you who after knowing about Habiba and Alma's situation have come to us enquiring for ways to help them.

From the very beggining we have been reluctant and refused any form of economical help, we have prefered to accept help in the shape of work offers, but due to the trauma this separation has left behind for both of them does not allow at present for mum and daughter to be separated at all. Being this the main contraindication in the healthy recovery of this family unit.

So for this reason and picking up and your suggestions. We at Fundacion Raices feel that we have to offer the opportunity to give donations in order to help Habiba and Alma together without an immediate need for Habiba to return to work just yet.

With any contribution, however small, we will be giving them the possibility of healing the wounds that this sad separation has caused them.


If you wish to make a donation to "Give the gift of time to HABIBA and ALMA to heal their wounds" you can do so by making a deposit in the account that Fundacion Raices has set up in order to send them your solidarity. You can also use the PAYPAL button on the right hand side of this blog.

Thank you ever so much for all your support, for your solidarity for your ideas, for your involvement and for knitting together a network of people that makes those who are vulnerable, stronger.

* Name of the Account Holder: Fundación Raíces

* Reference: Tiempo para Habiba y Alma

* Account Number: 2096/0605/20/3010419804

* Branch Address: C/Orense, 18. Madrid 28020.

Fundación Raices details:

Fundación Raíces

Address: Las Pedroñeras, 41

Postal code: 28043 Madrid

Telephone: (+44) 91 388 30 76


Registered charity: 28/1020

Wednesday, 22 June 2011



They're TOGETHER; HUGGING AND FREE!!! Little Alma is recovering emotionally with her head on her mothers chest, without taking her head off not even for an instant, as though this whole ordeal had been a bad dream. Habiba is glowing as we had never seen her before. Rest assured that everything you've done has been worth it. Alma, Habiba as well as all of us will be forever greatful for all your support.

Signed: Fundación Raices

Ibone (psychiatrist) and her children, Nacho (lawyer), Lourdes (Raices) and her children, Habiba and Alma are celebrating as a family ... together.

I've been with them in the park. I cannot believe it. I've seen it and yet I can not believe... it. Tha little girl is strong and well equipped. She laughs and plays. She eats and shares it with my daughter. She hums and moves her hands to the tune I sing to her. Habiba looks at Alma and her eyes twinkle. They kiss and kiss and kiss. Every now and again Habiba says "I want to sing, I want to shout" ... and she laughs. Ibone looks at them captivated "the most beautiful love movie I've ever seen." I do not know ... I feel drunk with joy .... (If you need more the opinion of a professional Ibone says the girl is just PER-FECT!)

Alma ... I never imagined you were so beautiful and that you would smile so much after everything you've been through. Undoubtedly your mother's breast has made you strong.

Habiba says: "I want to thank everyone who helped us" while she doesn't stop staring at her little girl.

I wish I had you lived with me this moment, this is much more than a reward. Today I feel a little more hopeful.
Patricia Sanz Lorenzo (part of the Spanish Support Team)


I just called Ibone, it is the first time we ever speak over the phone, I didn't know what to say but I wanted to share the joy with her, we talked briefly she was very happy, she passed me to Habiba saying: Someone from London wants to talk to you, I could hear Alma in the background...Habiba said: Hola and then: "I have my daughter you know?!!" With the joy of a child that has found her lost treasure and then she said: "Thank you!!", I couldn't stop crying, I just said I am happy, you take care. Ibone has said: Thank you and that the international support has been essential!

I am sure a longer story will be coming from Ibone at some point but I think we need to remember that from now on we must respect Habiba and Alma's privacy and peace. And Ibone and many people who have held this campaign for 22 days, need a well deserved rest.
Jesusa Ricoy-Olariaga part of the International and Spanish support team


Further... an international organisation has been created it will be called ALMA and it will protect families rights to breastfeed, cosleep and love each other amongst other things and will ensure that situations like this will not be accepted.

If you want to participate in ALMA, send us an email to

Sunday, 19 June 2011


This case has now reached over 10000 people via Facebook, both in Spain and Internationally. We have many proffesionals supporting us. And on the 15th of June many Spanish consulates around the world received our petitions to reunited this mother and child to prevent any further distress.
Here is a timeline of the story so far:

Madrid, Spain, June 16, 2011. On May 30, 2011, the Minor and Family Institute of Madrid, Spain (IMMF - Instituto Madrileño del Menor y la Familia) separated a 15 months old child from her mother because she would not comply with their demand that she wean her daughter. Spanish laws allow the state to remove children without a court order or a medical report. It is a purely administrative process, that parents or guardians can contest in court, after the removal has taken place. The child was removed to a different shelter without explanation or notice, and the mother was evicted from the shelter. The IMMF claims that the mother’s parenting practices (which included on-cue breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, co-sleeping, and “being affectionate”) were chaotic and harmful to her child.[1] In the case file, there is no medical or professional report as no medical or professional evaluation was conducted on the mother or the child while in the shelter. After leaving the shelter, the mother was examined by independent physicians who have found no sign of mental instability and no prior history of mental illness or drug abuse. The ombudsman released a letter asking that mother and child are urgently reunited, due to the mental and physical health of the child. Despite all of these facts, mother and child are still apart.

The story has generated a swift and passionate response from many members of the populace, but perhaps more so with mothers than anyone else. Social-networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have led to the rapid development of an international movement that has already staged protests in Spanish embassies and consulates around the world. Prestigious personalities have come forward and denounced a legal system they deem unfair for parents and children. The case has also drawn criticism from medical experts and breastfeeding advocates who condemn the government agency for acting in a manner that contradicts what the international community of medical doctors and psychiatrists generally agree to be in the best interests of both mothers and children.

As is common with women staying in shelters, the names of the mother and child are being protected for their security. The alias chosen for purposes of the public campaign for the mother is “Habiba” and that for the child is “Alma.” The mother and child are immigrants from Morocco, who sought shelter at the IMMF in February after escaping from an abusive family situation.


May 30, 2011. The Minor and Family Institute of Madrid, Spain (IMMF - Instituto Madrileño del Menor y la Familia), dependent of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, separated the child from her mother without explanation or notice, and the mother was evicted from the shelter. The IMMF claims that Habiba’s parenting practices (which included on-cue breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and “being affectionate”) were chaotic and harmful to her child. There is no medical report attached to the case worker’s files. The case workers consider Habiba ‘a bit immature’ and with a ‘certain degree of instability’ but no psychological exams have been done to Habiba while in the shelter. Pediatric reports or general medical reports had not been conducted either. This is compatible with the law for protection of minors, that gives IMMF the faculty to remove children without a court order and has a very broad definition of what constitutes a ‘situation of risk’ for a child.

June 1st, 2011. Habiba seeks the help of Fundacion Raices, a Madrid-based human rights advocacy organization that assists immigrants, youth, and families. That same day, Raices contacts Dr. Ibone Olza, a child psychiatrist, writer, professor, researcher, advocate and lactation specialist. Habiba undergoes several medical examinations and Dr. Olza concludes the mother is mentally healthy and has no prior history of mental illness or drug abuse.

June 2nd, 2011. A precautionary measure is presented in Family Court asking that the child is immediately given to her mother, or in it’s defect, that measures are taken to help restore the bond, such as visitation, communication and breastfeeding. The precautionary measure includes medical reports conducted by independent physicians

June 5, 2011. The Ombudsman receives hundreds of letter about the case and decides to investigate it, further issuing a report. The report considers that Habiba’s rights have been respected by the Community of Madrid, but that mother and child have a strong emotional bond and their relationship should be allowed to be as broad as possible.[2]

June 7, 2011. The District Attorney's Office interviews Habiba and announces the DA will contest the decision made by IMMF to separate mother and daughter.[3]

June 14, 2011. Dr. Carmen Pallas, head of the NICU of a hospital in Madrid, Dr. Adolfo Gomez from the University Hospital of Tarragona, and Josefa Aguayo of the Virgen del Rocio hospital in Seville, all members of the Breastfeeding Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, issued a statement disputing the IMMF’s position.[4] “The arguments in the report of which we have had access to, not only fail to justify that Habiba’s maternal relationship with her daughter could be harmful, but they actually demonstrate that Alma was perfectly fed, cared for and loved. The decision to separate Alma from Habiba is harmful for both of them.”

June 15, 2011. demonstrations take place in many embassies and consulates around the world:

June 16, 2011.
Ombudsman releases a letter asking for mother and child to be urgently reunited, due to the child’s mental and physical health. [5]

June 16, 2011. Habiba is allowed to see her daughter, with supervision. While visiting. Alma begins rooting for the breast. As she is about to latch, a supervisor energetically yells ‘NO’, preventing Habiba from nursing her baby.