Morocco

Placement at a glance

Age 18+ Contact us if you will be 17 on arrival.
Volunteer options Playwork, outdoor games, informal English teaching and painting work.
Support Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country support team (drivers, housekeepers, coordinators) and 24hr emergency support.
Project location Marrakesh and surrounding areas.
Accommodation Volunteers stay in dorm-style house and shared apartments in the Medina within walking distance of the main square. Use of kitchen.
Working hours Variable depending on area of work and location. Two days off per week which can be used to explore. The Eid holiday (equivalent of Christmas) in Morocco is between 14th and 21st September. Shops and projects will be closed. at this time although the volunteer house will still be available.
Language French, Arabic and English understood in tourist areas. Non-French/Arabic speakers should get by with a few “Bonjours” and "Salaamalikums" (Arabic for hello).
Getting to project From the UK your options include: Best option Flight direct to Marrakesh: From £60 return with Easyjet if bought in advance from the UK (www.easyjet.com). Other carriers Ryanair, British Airways.
Minimum stay 1 Week
When and how to apply Places limited on this popular programme close to the UK. Complete a 'Reserve Now' form today and we'll be in touch with you straightaway to confirm latest availability and what to do next.
Costs £125 per week
Airport Pick-up Service £10 airport pick-up organised for all volunteers flying to Marrakesh.
Toilets Living in the city centre, it's a modern flushing sit-on variety!

Accommodation info

  • Shop 2 minutes Shop 2 minutes
  • Bars 5 minutes Bars 5 minutes
  • Chemist 2 minutes Chemist 2 minutes
  • Until 22:00 nearest stop 5 minutes Until 22:00 nearest stop 5 minutes
  • Taxis 24/7 nearest rank 75 minutes Taxis 24/7 nearest rank 75 minutes
  • Cash machine 5 minutes Cash machine 5 minutes
  • Bank 5 minutes Bank 5 minutes
  • Pay Phones 2 minutes Pay Phones 2 minutes
  • Internet Access 2 minutes Internet Access 2 minutes
  • Laundry 5 minutes Laundry 5 minutes



Basics, what to take?

  • Adaptor
  • Toiletries/sheets

More info

Volunteer house in walled Marrakech city, in the neighbourhood of Bab Dokkala, within walking distance of all the major attractions and usual city services. Kitchen/western bathrooms/communal lounge and in most properties, a roof terrasse to relax or sleep on warm nights.

 

Meet the project team

supporting volunteers in morocco. the team

A great team awaits volunteers (pictured above in our main volunteer house) with a full range of staff from co-ordinators to housekeepers and drivers. Here’s some more below about the senior team who will be assisting you during your stay:

Ken joined the team after living in Spain for the last 5 years. An ex-primary teacher and ex-director Manager for the large insurance company Aviva. ‘Lots of kids are not well looked after but the work of OV over the years in Marrakesh has started to bring some stability to the children in this incredible country. I feel privileged to be a part of this project.’

‘The team in Marrakesh has been absolutely fantastic to me and I can’t thank them enough, I wish I can have the opportunity to come back and see everybody again’ – Sally Anderson


Supporting the volunteers

Support has always been the first priority of OV Morocco. With lots of people in different roles is amazing how much this has helped to make a difference. The team itself has developed well since the beginning, making OV Morocco the largest provider of volunteer work in Marrakesh chosen by so many volunteers.


Snaps from the staff

noura

Noura With a degree in French, and accountancy training she’s been with the Original Volunteers team since the beginning.

amina

Amina Also an early employee of OV Morocco, she’s well known and loved by all volunteers as a second mother. Amina helps look after the accommodation.

rachid

Rachid A graduate in English literature, joined OV Morocco after a teaching career. Rachid has been coordinating the programme since 2009.

fatime

Fatime Her strengths lie in being a quality coordinator, escorting volunteers here and there and is well liked by the volunteers.

Placement map

Call us today on 01603 280702

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Morocco placement details

Volunteer in Morocco helping children within the historical walled city of Marrakech. Our exciting weekly schedule provides opportunities to help children in different settings from community centres, charities to childrens’ homes and a baby orphanage. Here’s everything you need to know about the programme, including what you can do, how to prepare with advice on health, money and how to keep yourself safe. Have question?


 Morocco

What can I do in Morocco?

The Morocco program offers group volunteering with a schedule organised by a dedicated local support team who provide a range of experiences in different settings throughout Marrakech. They are there to help you feel relaxed and escort you to projects.

Join everyone at the assigned meeting point, which is usually the volunteer house itself or the bus stop for projects outside of the city centre.

Unlike other programmes, volunteers usually attend different projects each day. Most projects cater for children between the ages of 7 and 12 who have limited access to quality education or interaction with caring adults.

Volunteers fill the gap with simple organised games and informal learning, often through art and crafts which provides one to one attention that the children so desperately need. Some children will also have learning difficulties or be behind their peers due to problems at home.

Volunteers at the baby orphanage. Luckily most of the children find families before long.

Most project work is done in small groups at tables. Here volunteers with a small group at a boys orphanage in Marrakesh.

Can I work with babies and infants?

Volunteers have the opportunity to visit a baby orphanage where there aren’t enough staff to be able to provide essential physical contact that babies require in the first few months of life. Enjoy cuddling and playing with the babies and young children who desperately need human contact at this vital stage before it’s too late.

Can I do practical and hands on work?

Painting is great fun and helps brighten up the children’s learning environments. There’s often an opportunity to get involved with painting and decorating,from simple clean ups to large colourful murals for the children to enjoy. You might like to bring a brush and a design to copy.

Can I do sport?

Some projects offer lots of space for volunteers to organise active games such as football to rounders but even the smallest location has a space large enough for skipping or practising football skills.

In the summer there are also regular opportunities to take the children swimming both for fun and to practise if they’ve never learned to swim before – the perfect activity for a hot day!

Work with the homeless

This is a truly satisfying Feed the Homeless programme which is usually available once a week so that volunteers can buy and prepare a meal to give out on the street.

Can I work in orphanages?

Some projects offer activities for children living in orphanages and care homes. Not all of these children have lost parents, they simply have no blood relatives in a position to care for them.

Some have been abandoned entirely to fend for themselves and others have been handed over into the state’s care. Unlike the babies at the baby home, most of whom will be adopted by loving families, it’s harder for older children to find a new family.

Children without stable carers struggle at school and will often under perform. Following regular one to one attention and praise from our volunteers, children’s confidence and life chances are greatly improved.

It’s difficult to impress on volunteers how important and precious their personal input is – for the children with no families, time spent in the company of friendly adults who pose no threat is invaluable in helping them adjust to the adult world.

We advise all volunteers to visit all projects with open hearts and patience because each and every minute counts for these children.

Complete a call back form if you would like to know more!

Can I set up my own activity?

It’s always possible to organise an activity of your choice – your co-ordinator will help organise the children for you so they know what you’re planning and what they need to do.

Previous volunteers have taught dance, chess, bingo and organised fun tournaments.

Do I need teaching experience?

No – in fact, most volunteering is play/activity based rather than formal teaching. Most of our volunteers have little or no experience so they share the activity sessions as a group often sitting at tables in groups of 3-5 children.

Your coordinator may have some ideas and equipment but often supplies run out so try to bring some things from home – face paints are 100% the top fun activity for the younger children! For a quick guide on how to teach a small group English read our guide for novice TEFL teachers.

Find out about how informal teaching will be like, what to take and what to expect by getting a call back from one of our expert project advisors! 

Can I volunteer away from Marrakesh?

Group visits to the Berber villages in the Atlas mountains are always popular. In the summer these are often on the schedule every week. Most trips last a full day including travelling time. Some are far enough to require an overnight stop.

The bus fare is about £4 return and takes 2.5 hours with a comfort break half way. The second half is an exciting hair-raising ride into the mountains, followed by a river side trek through traditional villages where at the final and largest village volunteers organise a two hour fun-filled activity session.

At the end of the session, toys, games and resources are usually donated. Before the return journey, a traditional Moroccan tajine is enjoyed by the whole group at an outdoor restaurant.

There are also projects occasionally on the coast in Casablanca and Agadir. Speak to your volunteer co-ordinator about any forthcoming projects that you might be interested in.

Painting is great fun and helps brighten up children’s learning environments.

tab-morocco04.R

Enjoying time at a pool with children who would not otherwise have an opportunity.


Free time in Morocco

There is plenty of time to explore Marrakesh and take a tour both at the weekend and midweek between activities. Let us know on your final form if you would like to go on an excursion during your visit. There is no obligation or payment before arrival but it can be helpful for the local team to know numbers in advance to help organise a group trip. It’s more fun in a group! Got a question about working hours and free time – ask us!

morocco-freetime01.01

Camel adventure in the sahara desert.

Camel trek through the dunes

Price from just £70

Probably the number one excursion for all participating volunteers. Enjoy a leisurely guided afternoon camel ride over the shifting sands spending the night in a traditional Bedouin tent amongst the dunes.

Best to wear trousers and a sweater for when the sun sets whatever the daytime weather to be more comfortable.Cost from £70. Ask coordinator on arrival how to book and the meeting point.


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OV volunteers pose for a photo in front of the Ouzoud waterfalls.

Ouzoud waterfalls

Price from £16

High in the Grand Atlas, the falls are a popular day trip from Marrakech. A shady walk through olive trees takes you to the bottom of the falls where you can join a raft to get a closer view of the cascades and get wet. Most visitors swim afterwards so don’t forget to take your swim wear and a towel.

“Best day we had in Morocco!”

Ask coordinator for cost and meeting point.


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The main square at night. Within walking distance of the volunteer houses, this is the heart of Marrakech!

Jemma El Fna

Cost of drink £1, snack, £2

This is the hot spot of Marrakech and the entrance to the alleyways of the souks and Medina where the volunteer houses are located. During the day the square offers fresh juice stalls, snake charmers and water sellers but as the sun sets the square comes alive with story tellers, magicians and hot food stalls.

Surrounding the square are a number of cafes to enjoy a mint tea whilst watching the proceedings in the square. Things quieten down between 9 and 10pm.


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OV volunteers enjoy a traditional mint tea at the Berber House in the hills, a popular day trip.

Berber House

Price from just £15

If you can only do one activity during your stay and cannot stretch to a camel trek – make an overnight visit to the Berber House. Take a masterclass in Moroccan, sorry, Berber cuisine (the Berbers consider themselves Berbers first, Moroccan second) ride a donkey enjoy a ‘proper’ mint tea (not to be confused with the ‘mint teas’ served to tourists in the main square in Marrakech) with traditional music and dancing in the heart of Berber country.

Before your trip back to Marrakech the following morning, a leisurely breakfast of pancakes and honey is served. Recommended.

Include: transport, overnight stay and two meals.


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Take a break on a hot day at a pool close by.

Swimming pool for a hot day

Price from just £5

Volunteers often go in groups on day or afternoon off to swim and relax. 10 mins by taxi, £2- £3 or 50p each if sharing between 4.

Address: 44, Bd El Yarmouk, Place de la liberté.
Guéliz, 40000 Marrakesh, Morocco
(+212) 24 44 62 00

For a pool outside of Marrakech in a more rural setting, speak to your coordinator about the farm swimming pool on the way to Tahnaout, 30 mins by bus from Marrakech.


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OV volunteer on Essaouira beach, can be made on a day trip if you leave early enough.

Essaouira – for sea breezes

Price from just £30

Only 2-3 hours by coach, a trip to Essaouira makes a great weekend trip to escape the heat and catch a sea breeze.

A sleepy town and windswept beach popular with surfers, it  as a ‘hippy’ backpacker feel about the place but without the hustle and bustle of other coastal towns.

Coaches offers regular departures from Marrakesh bus station (15 mins walk from the volunteer house) with few stops on route along the straight road to the coast.


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Group of OV volunteers enjoy a meal at Mama Africa, still the preferred restaurant of choice.

Mama Africa cafe

Price from just £10

When you tire of Moroccan tajines, try Mama Africa’s, a relaxed African reggae vibe cafe. When no volunteers taking over the cafe, attracts a trendy/alternative local crowd. Salads and fresh juices are recommended and there’s often reaggae music and National Geographic channel on TV. Occasional Djs visit playing drum and bass. Very popular.

Just on the edge of the new town in Gueliz, on RueOum Errabia.Cost per plate: 80 to 150 Dirhams for a generous main course.


Fritos, a popular takeaway/delivery used by OV volunteers after a busy day.

Fritos cafe/take away

Price of food £5 – £8

Fritos on 23, Rue Fatim Zahra. From the Bab Doukala volunteer house, take the right fork at the Bab Doukala Mosque towards the main square. 500 m on left side. Serve pizza and paninis.

Can dine in but most volunteers take away and eat on the terrasse at the volunteer house. Very popular and cheap good food.

Also home delivery Tel 0618933743


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The ‘Pannini’ place for breakfasts near the Bab Doukala houses.

“Pannini place”

Crepe £1 Pannini £3

Known to OV volunteers as the pannini place round the corner from the Bab Doukala volunteer house. A friendly manager, Said (sigh – eed) and his team serves breakfasts of Moroccan crepes with different fillings.
Chocolate and honey popular, also serve good quality mint tea. Volunteers often buy a crepe for breakfast and take back to house to have with tea/coffee.

Volunteers also stop off here on their way back after their morning volunteering to grab a main meal.
Choose three from meat + salad + chips. Chips recommended!


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Ait Benhaddou village, film location for many films.

The Southern villages

Price from just £50

Take a tour to the village of Ait Benhaddou on the edge of the Sahara desert. Used as a backdrop for many famous films including :

1961 Lawrence of Arabia
1984 Jewel of the Nile
1996 Indiana Jones
1998 Gladiator
2008 Prince of Persia
2012 The Bible.



Outside the Bab Doukala volunteer house.

At the baby orphanage.

What happens on arrival?

Once you arrive at Marrakech airport, our regular driver will be waiting to pick you up and take you to the volunteer house. They always have a sign so you won’t miss them. They will also wait if your flight is delayed. They will also take a photo of your arrival as a memento. Transfer time to the volunteer house is approximately 15 minutes but the last few yards is often on foot through the pedestrianised alleyways. If you are arriving in the morning you may have time to get to your first project in the afternoon!

Is there a weekly schedule?

The weekly schedule is organised by your local support team who liaise with the local projects. They organise a varied schedule each week with a variety of different placements.

Fill in a call back form if you would like to know more about how the project visits are organised and what to expect. We will be happy to discuss the programme in more detail and help answer any questions you may have.

You can opt in or take a day off as preferred although it’s definitely more fun to have a go at everything. In the summer optional placements further afield may also be available. 

Here is an example of a weekly schedule in and around Marrakech although times and places vary from week to week.

Monday
Morning : Visit street kids centre in Marrakech
Afternoon : Outdoor games at orphanage in Marrakech
Tuesday
11am until 4pm : street kids project south of Marrakech
Wednesday
Morning : Baby orphanage
Afternoon : Boys orphanage
Thursday
Morning : Downs Syndrome day centre
Afternoon : Taking children swimming or visit to street kids project in Marrakech
Friday
Day Off to relax, shop or take a tour
Saturday
Day Off to relax, shop or do a camel trek in the desert
Sunday
Morning : Buy and help prepare meals for the homeless or relax
Afternoon : Visit a new project in suburbs

Who organises the activities for each project?

Activities are usually led by the volunteers which is the aim of the programme in Marrakech. It is easy to underestimate the range and quality of ideas you may have simply coming from what was probably by comparison, a privileged education in the West even if you thought at the time your teachers could have done better!

Very occasionally there may be something already planned between the project staff and your escorting volunteer coordinator, but please do not rely on them as this is what you guys are here for!

What sorts of activities should we plan for?

The sessions normally last 1-1.5/2 hours. It is a good idea to plan a table based activity which can last for 35 – 45 minutes with for 3-4 children followed by free play, physical games or one to one interaction to end the session. Sometimes sessions can last longer if the children are motivated to continue, the project staff would like you to carry on or the project does not receive frequent volunteer visits.

How do we organise the children when we arrive at a project?

Unless you are instructed otherwise, simply find a table and lay out your resources on the table. If a small group does not gather round, simply beckon some children over. Sometimes you may have to wait for the children to wander between tables checking out what is available or trying to find a seat somewhere. There can also be some late arrivals so don’t panic if no one comes over to your paper folding activity straightaway – start making yourself and give it a few minutes, they will come over!

What types of table based activities are popular?

Think outside of the box to generate interest which in turn will be more fun for you. For example, try to avoid the default volunteer activity of colouring in as your main activity. We are sure you can think of something more fun than that, not least watching children colour in on a hot afternoon may send you to sleep!

Back up resources you should have ready 

Having said that, it is a good idea to have one colouring book and felt tips for back up in your bag for when a child finishes early or if you think a child in your group may benefit from therapeutic colouring in. Let the child choose a picture and tear it out so they can take it home after.

Another essential is safe play equipment for later. Popular items which are always handy: skipping rope and soft sponge balls or similar items. Do keep these in your bag until after your main activity to prevent distraction and ‘grab and go’ behaviour when volunteers arrive.

Also worth including: notepad you can rip pages out of and wetwipes and a comb. Some of the children need a wipe and their hair combed and can get messy with their activity.

What happens when there are lots of volunteers?

Try to leave the idea at home that education and learning can only happen in a classroom setting with one qualified and experienced adult at the front of 20 children and that one-to-one work is not beneficial. You may like to consider home tutors in your own country who work one-to-one with their students, pitching the level and speed of learning to the child, often with dramatic results.

Play and creative self expression can also be undervalued in traditional education, especially in Morocco, where copying from the board is the preferred methodology. 

Bringing children and volunteers together informally gives troubled children a chance to get personalised attention from positive role models and explore themselves and the world around them without judgement. Imagine a child has had no eye-contact from adults for many weeks or has not been able to express themselves in any safe way. This can have a profound effect on development and self – esteem. Spending a whole hour with an adult caring deeply about everything they do, from they colour they chose for their picture whilst giving them the space to explore their ideas is a massive asset for growth.

Most of the children you work with receive education at another time of year or are attending school part time so you are not interfering with their mainstream education. 

If there are lots of of you, take advantage to offer precious support. In the summer it will only be these few weeks the children can receive one volunteer’s dedicated time and resources. In the winter and spring, volunteer numbers are less and different projects are visited.  

Seat yourselves volunteer – child – volunteer – child around a table and focus your attention the child next to you. Try to avoid sitting next to another volunteer as this can be intimidating for the little ones facing you!  

If you feel there are enough volunteers and activities, look out for strays, there’s often one or two children wandering around. There may be a reason why they are not joining in. Perhaps they do not feel welcome by the others, are shy, younger, older, or there are learning or health difficulties? Perhaps you can help them to join an activity or offer one to one time, perhaps skipping, playing catch or noughts and crosses?

For an individual child who has experienced neglect, social isolation or trauma a one to one experience away from the table could be the most valuable experience, far greater than any organised group activities. You may be the only volunteer for a few weeks who has made a connection and shown interest.

The local team organise your placements and your wellbeing during your stay. They look after hundreds of volunteers each year and are always happy to help.

morocco-volunteer-group-outside-project

Volunteers always attend projects in a group together for more fun and more opportunities to give children attention

 

Travel with others

How can I travel with other volunteers?

We will Buddy you up with another volunteer so you can fly out together, just let us know at the time of booking. Even if you do travel alone, as 7 in 10 do, you will never be alone in Marrakech on this busy project with new volunteers arriving every day or two. You can also:

  • Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
  • Join the volunteer community on Facebook and like the page to connect with other volunteers, receive recent pictures, stories and updates.
Everyone is met on arrival in Marrakesh. Fly with others using the OV Travel Buddy site.

Everyone is met on arrival in Marrakesh. Fly with others using the OV Travel Buddy site.

At many projects there is outdoor space for organised games and basic resources can be bought in Marrakesh

At many projects there is outdoor space for organised games and basic resources can be bought in Marrakesh

What happens if I take a tour during my stay?

Project costs still apply until the day you leave the programme. Due to the popularity of the programme and limited bed availability in the volunteer houses in Marrakech, it is not possible to provide refunds for odd nights spent away on tours.

Can I extend my stay when I am in Morocco?

Due to the limited number of beds, we recommend booking the longest time that you might stay. If you leave the programme earlier, a refund of your unused nights is available. Simply email us with your leaving date. This helps keeps things flexible if you want to travel further afield.

Volunteers camel trekking in Morocco

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More Morocco volunteer projects outside of Marrakesh

What is included?

Accommodation is included in the weekly project costs. This covers the support of your local team who liaise with the projects, organise the weekly schedule and are on hand to provide you with any assistance you may need during your stay.

Do I have to stay complete weeks?

Your project costs are calculated on a nightly basis. For example, if you are staying 9 nights, you will pay for 9 nights only from the day you arrive. There are no fixed dates, you can arrive on any day of the week, although Monday to Wednesday is ideal to settle in and make friends before the weekend when many volunteers explore or take a tour together.

How will I get to the projects each day?

In and around Marrakech it could not be easier. The volunteer coordinator escorts the volunteer group to each project on foot, by taxi or by bus. The meeting place is either the volunteer house, the bus station or a taxi rank close by.

Most sessions last about 1 to 2 hours, excluding travelling time and one of the volunteer coordinators will be on hand at each session.

Projects outside of Marrakech can require more travelling and sessions may be longer, snacks or a meal are sometimes provided in recognition of the group’s efforts to attend what is an off the beaten track location.

If the group need to take a bus or taxi, £2 is usually enough. If a project is away from Marrakech, transport might be more so if you would rather opt out and stay in Marrakech, that’s fine, but the experience of seeing more of the country should more than make up for the extra bus fare!

Don’t panic if you are on a budget, this should not affect your experience. All projects are optional, the majority choose to spend their whole time volunteering in Marrakech and never want to leave other than for a camel trek!

Volunteers at the baby orphanage. Luckily most of the children find families before long.

Most project work is done in small groups at tables. Here volunteers with a small group at a boys orphanage in Marrakesh.

What level of support is provided?

A dedicated English-speaking support team organises the week’s schedule, escorts the volunteer group to each placement and is on hand for all related advice and support during your stay from volunteering to arranging a doctors appointment.

The permanent support team have been looking after volunteers for many years including large school and college groups and if they do not know something, it is not worth knowing!

Do I need a visa?

No visa is required if you hold a British passport and will be staying less than 12 weeks. If you hold a different passport and require a visa, we’ll send you the supporting letters of introduction you need to assist your visa application..

How can I look after my health?

Unlike much of Africa, anti-malarials are not needed in Marrakech which is great news, although you may get a delicate stomach from the food and water but this is quite normal. 1 in 5 visitors to Morocco will experience a little discomfort but it usually passes in a couple of days and most volunteers carry on as usual (with the help of something like Immodium). To help prevent an upset stomach, stick to bottled water and soft drinks.

If you are worried, try to avoid the orange juice in the main square as even though it’s lovely, the water may be untreated. Instead buy two oranges and sugar and ask your coordinator how to make the same at home. Our travel health section explains more on what jabs are needed and how to stay safe.

The most common health annoyances in the summer months are generally not drinking enough water or sun exposure. Make sure you drink plenty, always carry an extra bottle or two with you when away from the volunteer house, ideally a bottle that has been in the freezer overnight, and cover up with a sun hat or parasol in the heat of the day.

What is Morocco like?

Morocco is one of the most liberal North African countries with a booming tourist industry attracting over 7 million visitors a year. In the walled city of Marrakech, due to its importance both historically and as a centre of tourism. Most people will consider themselves Muslim although don’t assume everyone goes to the Mosque or prays every day in the same way there are many shades of Catholicism in Ireland. For any practising Christians visiting Marrakech or just for the curious, there is a small Catholic church, the Holy Martyrs.

Not many people know that The King of Morocco provides a strong plain clothed tourist police force, so you could not be safer. They are also to keep an eye out for pushy salesmen in the walled city to keep the visitor’s stay a positive and hassle-free one.

The walled city, or the Medina, is where the volunteer houses are located. There is a real community feeling here, helped by the lack of cars and only the occasional donkey or moped passing through the alleyways.

And if you understand Arabic or Berber you will here adults calling out to children passing by why they aren’t home yet or asking teenagers if their mother knows they are out, everyone knows everyone here!


Are meals provided?

Breakfast is normally eaten out or a crepe brought back to the volunteer house to combine with a tea or coffee. At lunchtime and in the evening the group usually eat together as a group in a cafe in the main square. If you prefer to prepare your own meals, there are modern supermarkets within easy walking and a kitchen in the volunteer houses.

What happens if I book with a friend?

Let us know at the time of booking if you are travelling with others so we can make sure that on arrival you are all transferred to the same volunteer house (there are 4 volunteer houses in the summer). Because every one staying at the same volunteer house volunteers together in one big group each day, you’ll be together when volunteering too!

Will the summer heat be a problem?

Worn-in flip flops or sandals and trainers are practical. Many travellers bring new footwear which can cause painful blisters. If you have no time to wear them in, bring a back up pair of shoes you have worn a lot at home just in case.

Avoid jeans or any tight trousers if the temperature will be 35 Celsius or more when you arrive, Indian style loose palazzo pants can be bought cheaply in Marrakech or buy before travel from markets/ethnic shops at home. Make sure you take plenty of water each day in your bag, at least 2 litres for Marrakech projects. Many volunteers put their bottles in the freezer at the volunteer house the night before so they stay cool for at least a half day, even cold water freshly bought from a shop can get warm within 10 minutes.

A light shawl to cover your head or wide rimmed sun hat will help enormously. With these measures you should not have problems even on the hottest day, and if you have frozen your water, you can place that on your neck to cool down or pour over your head, a refreshing treat!

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Simple games like playing cards can help vulnerable children build trust

Training workshops are often available. See the noticeboard or speak to your support team.

What are the costs after I have registered and booked my space?

After you have booked your space and registered with us, (registered volunteers travelling within 12 months of their first project abroad do not need to pay the registration fee again) the weekly project costs for the Marrakech programme are £125 per week, this includes accommodation and organisation of the placements by a dedicated support team.

The airport pick up is £10 and is organised for you before arrival. The return airport drop off is organised closer to departure as per your preferred time to leave the volunteer house.

All volunteers need to purchase a return flight to Marrakech (Easyjet is the preferred airline, the airport is called Menara and the airport code is RAK) and travel insurance.

Travel insurance which covers medical bills should you need them can be added on easily when you buy your flight online and costs between £10 and £30 for a short trip.

You should allow about £10 a day for meals (usually eating out in cafes together) and local transport to get to projects although a third of all projects are within walking distance of the volunteer house.

Some occasional projects require a few extra pounds to help cover costs, for the swimming project allow £3 – £6 to pay for yourself and a child and for the feeding the homeless programme approximately £5 towards food.

We recommend taking extra for the many excursions available, £100 should cover the camel trek and one other activity, although as with any holiday it is always a good idea to take as much as you can extra in case to cover anything else you might want to do in your free time or things you would like to buy.

How and when do I need to pay for my project?

An invoice for the weekly project costs and airport pick up will be sent by email shortly after we have received your flight to Marrakech. We calculate project costs for the volunteer programme based on your flights. This is the easiest way to pay. Email us if you are travelling soon and have not received an invoice. And don’t worry if you forget, if we have your flights already – we’ll send you a reminder before you go!

Communication

How will I keep in touch with family?

Most volunteers get a new SIM on arrival. Do remember to check with your provider and unlock your phone long enough before travel. Most of the volunteer houses have wifi. There are still many internet cafes in Marrakech within walking distance. See Kate Russell’s advice column using your phone abroad for more.

How will I get back to the airport?

Your in-country support team will help organise this for you with their regular driver. There is also a regular airport shuttle bus from the edge of the main square, but make sure you allow plenty of time to walk through the Medina, especially in hot weather as your trolley case and luggage may feel somewhat heavier!

Volunteers In Morocco enjoying time in pool while working at project.

morocco-volunteers-preparing-meal-for-homeless

Morocco volunteers preparing meal for homeless

What do I need to take for the children?

Some days your co-ordinator will have an activity or two planned in advance with the materials to hand out, but they should not be relied on. The programme works at its best when volunteers bring with them great activities for the children to learn and enjoy something new.

The best way to approach this is plan for 2 or 3 creative/artistic activities you can do with 4 to 5 children sitting around a table with you. Creative activities are great because they keep the children focused for longer than say, playing dominoes which although fun, may only last 5 minutes.

Most craft activities will usually occupy even the most impatient children for between 30 and 40 minutes if there are enough stages in the process to be completed, for example, drawing round a template, colouring or painting, cutting and finishing off followed by creating a wall display.

When preparing, imagine 4 or 5 children with you at a table – what could you do? What would you need to make something? Paper? Scissors? Glue sticks? Colours? Cotton thread? There may be some equipment at the volunteer house but we would recommend taking one or two basic essentials just in case like a gluestick, cellotape and pair of scissors, the children can always take turns to use them.

In addition, throw in a piece of simple fun sports equipment, a bat and ball, skipping rope, packet of balloons or loom bands for the days when activities have been prepared, you finish early and the children want to run around. Try to think outside the box if you can, nobody to our knowledge has taken a hula hoop before, probably because it might be awkward getting it over there on a flight.

Sometimes one more expensive item might last many sessions, for example a big box of sticklebricks, two space hoppers for a race (bring repair kit!) or a general set of Meccano or similar for a few children to use at the same time, rather than a one model set.

Take one of your activity ideas or equipment set to every session so it’s ready to use in case no-one else has something planned. And even when project work has been organised for the group, there are often some children who finish early or may have learning difficulties who you might want to work with using your activity or sports equipment.

What do I need to take for my stay?

Between June and August take a single duvet cover to sleep inside or a summer weight sleeping bag. From October to April it is a good idea to take a sleeping bag and and a jumper as the weather can vary from hot to chilly.

It is a good idea all year round to also pack trainers or lightweight walking shoes as some projects and trips involve walking on rough or rocky terrain. Flip flops are impractical for rocky footpaths although they are light enough to put in your bag if you change later.

If you want to take any opportunity to travel out of Marrakech to projects further afield which often requires camping or sleeping on the floor, you may want to take a cheap sleeping mat just in case and pillow to be more comfortable. Although there is no obligation to move out of Marrakech, these are just optional add-on experiences to try volunteering elsewhere.

A daypack is essential at all times to carry equipment and a drink to projects. A money belt is practical to keep money and passport safe. In the summer months between April and October you will need at least 2 bottles of water a day (70p – £1.50) so make sure there’s space and your day bag is strong enough! If the weather forecast for your trip will be over 37 Celcius then it is worth packing either a very wide rimmed sun hat, a summer parasol or white/light umbrella as a sun shade when waiting for taxis and buses. 

volunteer-sports-morocco

Volunteers and children at a project outside Marrakesh. There is often space and time for some sport and games.

volunteers-trekking-to-a-berber-village

Projects outside of Marrakesh can be a great way to see more of the country and offer activities for children who are geographically isolated.

How much free time will I have?

Volunteer schedules are organised for 5 days out of 7 on a part time basis so there is plenty of time to explore and take time out. But if there is a tour which requires an extra day off, that is absolutely fine. See the example schedule on this page for an idea of a typical week and scroll down this page to the free time section for popular trips and prices.

A great idea when you first arrive is to take the sight-seeing bus, which is open-topped and takes you right the way around the outskirts of the city. They are exactly the same as the city sightseeing buses in the UK. There is a commentary available that comes in many different languages.

On hot days volunteers can visit one of the luxurious hotel pools and pay for a day’s use.

Further afield, a desert camel trek is a must and almost all volunteers will spend one weekend on a desert trip.

 


What happens after I have booked?

  • As soon as you have booked with the once-only £125 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip. To avoid disappointment, it is strongly recommended to book this project as early as possible, there are only three volunteer houses to accommodate everyone and Morocco is also popular with school groups due to the proximity to the UK and affordability of flights.
  • We will Buddy you up with another volunteer going to the Marrakech volunteer programme arriving around the same time so you should have a good chance to travel together if you wish to
  • You will also receive a Welcome Pack with some useful information which will include project specific advice on what to take, how to prepare and travel health recommendations

Below is an example timeline for a volunteer travelling in July 2017

  • As soon as possible : After you are booked on with your registration fee, get flights to Marrakech Menara airport to arrive before 7:30pm. Budget airline tickets from the UK and Europe go on sale 6 months in advance, traditional airlines (British Airways, Royal Air Maroc and Air Portugal amongst many others) start selling seats 12 months in advance. Skyscanner.net is the preferred flight website by our volunteers to search for and buy a flight. A pick up will be automatically organised for you with a transfer to the volunteer house, transfer time approx. 15 mins. If you are travelling overland from elsewhere in Morocco, shortly before you travel we will put you in touch with your Moroccan programme coordinator and their team to arrange a suitable meeting point/pick up point.
  • Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
  • Join the volunteer community on Facebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates
  • May: Morocco does not require many jabs compared with other African destinations and most tourists visit without having any jabs. However it may be a good idea to contact your local doctor’s surgery in the UK or travel nurse/travel clinic for further advice as you may need to update your usual boosters (for more information on what is typically recommended please refer to our travel jabs section, and the UK NHS website fitfortravel). Malaria tablets are not generally advised for the Marrakech region.
  • April : send us a copy of your CRB. If you do not have one, we will send you information on alternatives.
  • May : Arrange suitable travel insurance if you have not bought this with your flight already. Make sure hospital bills and repatriation are included in the policy. Medical bills are often paid by the day abroad and can rise steeply. See our travel health section for more info and advice.
  • No visa is required before travel for Morocco for UK passport holders for stays of less than 12 weeks. If you require a visa – contact us if you require letters of introduction from Morocco which we can prepare for you, you should allow an extra week for this and we will need your flight to prepare the letter for you.
  • As soon as you have flights to Marrakech: Email us your flight to organise your pick up and transfer to the volunteer house
  • At anytime : pay for your programme – we will send you an invoice by email to pay online usually shortly after we receive your flights – don’t worry we will send you a reminder if you forget!
  • We will organise your pick up and transfer from Marrakech Menara airport automatically when we receive your flights

Morocco at a glance

Morocco is a great option if you’re on a tight budget or if you want more spending money when you’re out there. Easyjet and Ryanair both fly to Marrakech meaning flights can be booked for as little as £70 return if bought early!

Morocco has a rich culture and is considered to have one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. The almost medieval-like hustle and bustle of Morocco is for most travellers a world away from their own cities and towns. The souks (covered markets) are a way of life in Morocco and you usually won’t have to go far to find one. When you do-be careful you don’t get lost! Moroccan culture can be an exciting and worldly experience. The people are friendly and the place is colourful. Hospitality is really a part of their culture so you can strike up friendships virtually anywhere if you have the right attitude.

Morocco is a country in North Africa with a population of nearly 32 million.
The word Morocco originates from Medieval Latin, which used the word “Morroch,” which referred to the capital Marrakech. The word Marrakech was derived from Berber Mur-Akush, which means “Land of God.”
Morocco has a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco holds vast powers.
Morocco has a rich culture and is considered to have one of the most diversified cuisines in the world.
Climate

The climate in Morocco is Mediterranean. The average temperature in Morocco is 17 Celsius, although in Marrakech, the highest months, July and August, temperatures can be anywhere up to 35 Celsius. The lowest, in January, can be 7 Celsius.

Morocco specific questions

Do I need experience to volunteer in Morocco?
Few volunteers have any experience. Everybody is welcome to come and volunteer whether you are a first time traveller on your first trip away from home on your very first volunteer trip or an experienced traveller looking for a placement closer to home.  

When do I choose what I will be doing?
On arrival you will see there is a week’s schedule with the activities which have been planned for you and your group by your local support team. If there is anything you are not sure about, speak to the team who will be happy to help. If you would like to take a day or half a day off to complete a tour, that’s fine and is quite a frequent current occurrence with there being so much to see and do in your free time! Your local team will help you to organise a trip for you and this is best done after arrival after you have met your fellow volunteers who may like to travel with you or vice versa.

Do you offer medical placements?
The Morocco volunteer programme does not currently offer formal health placements in medical settings. However there is often time to perform a basic health check or organise a health education activity, simply speak to your support team about how to organise this into the week’s schedule. If you are studying nursing, a volunteer placement in Morocco satisfies what is called frequently the enrichment aspect of courses and we have many student nurses visiting for a week or two. There is often a weekly visit to the baby orphanage but the need here is human contact in the early months rather than professional medical care as they have a local doctor performing assessments. If you are looking for hands on hospital work, from work shadowing local hospital staff to direct patient care, we would recommend our Ghana and Uganda programmes which can also be combined with the regular programme, offering a two for one experience in the same location.

I need to teach a minimum number of hours for my education course?
It is recommended that volunteers requiring a minimum number of hours volunteer for at least one month. It is a good idea early on to find out from your course tutor exactly how many hours you will need in the classroom and whether lesson prep time is included or excluded. It is not uncommon for some course tutors to ask volunteers for 80 hours classroom teaching over two weeks, which incidentally no teacher in the UK would be expected to complete in that time frame. On closer inspection after further liaising with course tutors, it soon becomes apparent that the volunteer either needs to stay longer to complete the required hours, or as is more often the case, the 80 hours can include 30 hours of lesson preparation aswell as playwork and outdoor games. Check the finer details with your course tutor or department head if in doubt and make sure they are aware too of what their own course requirements are! Please note when schools close for holidays, community classes continue to take place throughout the area and your coordinator will assist you to ensure that your teaching hours are sustained.

Will I be met on arrival?
All volunteers are met at the airport in Marrakech on arrival. Transfer time is approximately 15 – 20 minutes.

What do I need to take?
As a general rule art/craft resources together with an idea of what you can do with a group of children around a table. It can get repetitive if you only have plain paper and felt tips for each visit, not least for you! Look for activity packs or games which do not require instructions and can be played for more than 5 minutes or so. For example, three sets of Connect Four would keep 6 children entertained at one sitting, three skipping ropes, the same number of children and so on. But think creatively and do make sure you cover for a small group. When you have gather a few ideas and resources, for example, for 5 activity sessions, make sure you take one each day with a ball or small 

Where will I be staying?
All volunteers are grouped together in one of the spacious volunteer houses in the city centre close to the tourist centre of Marrakech.

How are the bedrooms organised?
Rooms are single sex sleeping in single beds and sharing 2 – 6. The majority of rooms sleep 3 – 4.

I would prefer to stay in a single sex house, is that possible?

If we know in advance we will try to place you in the house with the highest proportion of the same gender should a single sex house not be available. 

Is Morocco safe?
Morocco is one of the safest Muslim countries in the world and it’s people are friendly and welcome their Western visitors. Marrakesh is firnly on the tourist trail since the 1970s and is now enjoying a new boom by city break visitors from all over Europe. 

Are there rules about clothes?
It is a good idea to dress conservatively when volunteering. Leggings, capri pants, skirts and t-shirts covering the shoulders are best for female travellers. We’ve put together a handy background article which we hope helps make clear of the classic what to wear question!

http://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/travelling-morocco-soon-female-sure-wear-fit-culture/

Do I need a visa for Morocco?
Visas are not needed for British passport holders staying less than 12 weeks. For other nationalities, we can provide letters of introduction if required at anytime as soon as you have flights. Sometimes for passport holders of Pakistan a visit is required by one of our team to the city of Rabat to confirm your arrival and hand over documents. Our staff are happy to help with this but there may be a charge for their travelling expenses and an overnight stay if required. 

Are there fixed arrival dates?
There are no start dates for the Morocco volunteer programme. We recommend arriving between Monday and Wednesday giving you plenty of time to settle in, check out a project or two and make friends before the weekend when you may decide to book a trip. Airport pick ups and transfers are organised for all flights arriving before 7/7:30pm. if your flight is late, no need to panic, the driver will have your flight details and know from looking at the arrivals board that your flight is delayed and wait for you.

Will I be placed with friends?
All volunteers arriving with friends on the same flight (if we are aware, email us know at anytime) will be placed in the same room wherever possible and always in the same volunteer house.

I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone?
We can Buddy you up with someone else going around the same time. Take a look at our Buddy List too or pop us a message on the main Facebook Group and we’ll add you to our weekly round up. But if you are travelling alone, don’t panic, the Morocco volunteer programme is always busy and it has a family-feel so you will make friends at the volunteer house as soon as you arrive. About 7 in 10 volunteers travel alone.

Will I need any jabs?
Although Morocco is attached to the rest of Africa, you won’t need the jabs that you will need for other countries. Malaria is not present and living conditions are good enough (even if a bit rough round the edges) to prevent major outbreaks and health threats. It is a good idea to get a Tetanus booster if it has been awhile since your last one.

I am a practising Muslim – is there a mosque?
Yes there are Mosques everywhere in Marrakesh. Ask the support staff at your volunteer house for a recommendation, or better still, ask if they can accompany you!

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a month of fasting, reflection and prayer in the Muslim world. On the Christian calendar, the old traditions of Lent would be the nearest comparison. The dates for Ramadan change each year, each year starting 11 days earlier. In 2014 Ramadan is June 28th to 28th July. In 2015 Ramadan will be 18th June to 17th July.

During Ramadan, practising Muslims will fast between sunrise and sunset. Many businesses and cafes close to use as little energy as possible, often opening very late in the evening after they have been to the mosque and eaten for strength. To help matters, the clock in the summer is adjusted and brought forward by an hour.

Will Ramadan affect my visit?

Ramadan should not affect your visit as a volunteer. Many find Ramadan adds to their experience in a positive and unique way. During the day you only need to be aware that almost everyone is fasting and has given up drink until the sun sets so all the locals are hungry and thirsty.

Some of the projects close during Ramadan due to the impracticalities and challenges for everyone, whilst others become more important, such as the feeding the homeless project.

Naturally out of courtesy, it is advisable at this time to eat, drink and smoke with discretion out of sight wherever possible when away from the volunteer house.

Inside the volunteer house, life continues as usual and you can eat and drink as normal. Clothing-wise for girls, it is a good idea for girls when outside of the volunteer house and at projects to wear T-shirts rather than strappy vests and longer length shorts.

How can I keep in touch with home?
Most of the volunteer houses have wifi, where not available at any time, internet access is a 10-15 minute walk into the centre.

How will I get back to the airport?
Your support team will organise a taxi back to the airport, or with the driver if he is picking someone else up. Alternatively, simply jump on the airport shuttle bus or in a cab, it’s dead easy and the airport is only 15 – 20 minutes from the volunteer house.


Contact us for specific questions

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on 01603 280702 or email [email protected] get the answers you need!

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