Volunteers

Georgina Rose Hanson Morocco

What members of staff do you remember the most and why?

I remember them all for different reasons. I remember Abdullah for his poetry and sense of humour, Hannah for her lovely nature, Fatine for what she taught me and Rachid for our chats.

What were your impressions of the accommodation?
The accommodation was a very distinct Moroccon style which is what you want if your volunteering, no room for flashy hotels. It was a very communal environment too. Our riad was particularly welcoming because it had hand prints on the walls from people who had stayed previously, it gave the impression that people wanted to, and did, leave their mark (in more ways than one).

Why did you want to volunteer?
I booked the trip to Morocco trip about a month before I went. It was the most spontaneous, impulsive decision of my life! I typed in “volunteer abroad” on google and it was the first one to come up. Luckily, it turned out to be the cheapest volunteering company and the most rewarding trip of my life.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
The activity with the biggest impact was the feeding programme. We all contributed the equivalent to about two quid and fed over 60 homeless people! People were flocking in and I thought “God, if we weren’t doing this they probably wouldn’t be having a single meal today”. Also, when we visited the orphanages the children seemed so grateful that we were there. It was important to give them the love that they have missed from their parents.

What did you do for fun?
There were at least two days off a week and some half days. Our group in particular made good use of the time. The most amazing things were camel riding at a beach (three hours out of the city), waterfall swimming and exploring the souks!

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
I would have to say the waterfall excursion. It was a boiling hot day and once were told we could swim in the cascades, we jumped right in! There was an island of rocks in the middle and, because of the heat, you would literally dry in seconds. There was a great atmosphere and the group really bonded on that day.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
A group of ten of us stayed in the apartment at the start as the riads were full and moved into the riad a week later. We all became really close after a few days. The nice thing was we were so different but all had something to offer to the group – we just seemed to fit. This was lovely, especially because I went to Morocco on my own.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise
I would highly recommend visiting the main square at night because it just comes to life and has the most incredible, exciting atmosphere. It’s the kind of thing you can’t understand until you’ve been. The jewish quarter is the best place for gifts, ask for the co-opratif and someone will take you there with no questions asked.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Two weeks is enough time to experience volunteering in Marrakech so I would go back to Morocco but I feel I’ve seen that city now. I would go with Original Volunteers again because it’s a cheaper option for volunteering and there is a range of activities. Next time, I plan to go to South Africa or India.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Don’t think about it, just do it! If you don’t now, when will you?

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
For Morocco: bum bag, cockroach repellent, Imodium, high factor suncream, comfortable shoes, arts & crafts things for the orphanage and an open mind!

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
I spent 125 quid per week but I went on lots of excursions and out for some nice lunches. Lunch usually costed around 100 DH which is the same as 6 quid! It’s a cheap place. I would say, haggle for everything because the locals spot tourists a mile off and there are no fixed prices – don’t get ripped off.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
The back end of September because it’s hot but manageable heat – I’d say July and August would be too hot for a lot of people. Morocco is a great place for a first project because it’s cheapest and the safest. I’d say be prepared because it’s a crazy place, a great adventure and very character building. Some aspects are difficult such as the heat, the lack of choice for vegetarians etc but if you have a good attitude you take something good from everything.