Little Rayan: Morocco boy who died in well laid to rest in small funeral

Little Rayan: Morocco boy who died in well laid to rest in small funeral
A public funeral was held for the five-year-old boy who fell down well in Morocco, prompting large-scale but ultimately unsuccessful rescue efforts.
3 min read
07 February, 2022
Authorities banned journalists from interviewing Rayan's parents [Getty]

Moroccans on Monday bid a final farewell to Rayan Awram, a five-year-old boy who died after falling down a 30-metre-deep well on Tuesday in a north Morocco village.

The Arab World was gripped by a week of desperate attempts to save the boy, who was dug out of the shaft on Saturday but was announced dead shortly later.

Hundreds of locals and Moroccans came from distant cities and towns to pay tribute to little Rayan at the mountainous village of Ighran, and join the Islamic funeral prayer for his soul.

"I took a day off from my work in Nadour to come and pay tribute to little Rayan's soul. My heart is aching for him. I cried my heart out after his death," Samir, a 30-year-old Moroccan, who lives near the eastern Moroccan city Nadour, told The New Arab.

Dozens of people, like Samir, hiked the mountainous roads to reach the prayer site after authorities barred non-locals from entering the village and allowed only Moroccan and international media through. Journalists were asked to not interview the child's family.

Rayan’s village witnessed a heavy security presence on Monday to ensure the safety of mourners and enforce social distancing measures.

Only a few dozen mourners were allowed to join the funeral prayer, according to locals.

Following the prayer, Rayan's small body was buried in the Zawya graveyard in the village of Ighran.

Many Moroccans who were unable to reach Rayan’s village watched the funeral in cafes, where dozens gathered around televisions that broadcasted the funeral live.

"I am heartbroken. But I believe in God’s will. Maybe Rayan was a message to remind us of our humanity and of the importance of solidarity as Muslims and Arabs," a 60-year-old man, sitting in a cafe in Rabat, told The New Arab.

Little Rayan fell down the 32-metre deep well on Tuesday afternoon while playing outside his parents' house in the village of Ighran, close to the city of Chefchaouen in Morocco.

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Following five days of digging around the well, both by bulldozers and by hand, Moroccan authorities brought out Rayan from the depth of the well and transferred him to the hospital in an ambulance, amid the cheers of locals who had gathered around the well in anticipation of the boy's rescue.

The happiness quickly turned into sorrow after it was announced later on Saturday that Rayan was found dead. 

His body was transferred in a medical helicopter to the military hospital in the capital Rabat to undergo the autopsy process. The results of the autopsy have not yet been confirmed.

The ordeal of "little Rayan" gained global attention and sparked an outpouring of sympathy, with the Arabic Twitter hashtag #SaveRayan trending.

News of his death swept local, regional and international households with sorrow as leaders and celebrities from around the world rushed to console Moroccans.

"I feel like I lost a child of mine, may God be with his mother," a 40-year-old Moroccan woman told The New Arab.

However, many others refuse to romanticise Rayan’s death, calling out authorities over neglecting poor areas and the "forgotten wells" across Morocco.

"May Rayan rest in peace, but we need to work now to save the life of many Moroccan children like Rayan, who live in villages with neglected wells and hard-to-reach water sources," Khalid, a 24-year-old Moroccan student, told The New Arab.