Morocco specific questions
Can I choose what I will be doing?
The week is organised for you by your volunteer coordinator. There is no need to choose a project to focus on.
I have not been told yet?
If there is no schedule, don’t panic! This means the charities and projects have not confirmed the sessions yet and the group leaders didn’t want you to plan activities and pack bags to then cancel.
Can I opt out of the schedule?
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! This is best organised after arrival when 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 – 25 minutes depending on traffic.
Are Muslim volunteers welcome? What opportunities are there for Muslim volunteers?
Yes. All volunteers follow the same schedule. The work carried out is not faith-based.
What do I need to take to volunteer?
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?
A variety of accommodation types are provided from homestays to shared volunteer apartments when numbers permitting. This is organised for you shortly before arrival according to the size of the group. Accomodation is usually in the walled city, between 5 and 15 minutes easy strolling from the main square.
How are the bedrooms organised?
Rooms are single sex sleeping in single beds and sharing 2 – 6. The majority of rooms sleep 3 – 4. Sometimes it is possible for couples and mixed gender friends to share at quieter times of year.
Why volunteer house and not hostel/hotel?
And what am I paying for?
Because of the level of organisation which goes into organising a varied volunteer programme, which operates nearly all year round in different locations and volunteering being the focus, to keep costs down we are not able to provide the type of hotel/hostel style accommodation that some travellers or first time travellers may expect.
So please do not expect a receptionist on arrival, cafe, lockers and a bed socket next to every bed!
We do not do this deliberately to make life more difficult. It is simply to keep the costs as low and affordable as possible to enable more people to volunteer.
Following a trial of hostel accommodation where volunteers stayed in different locations of their own choice and budget it was found:
Fewer volunteers met the group leader at the meeting points to volunteer.
Charities and projects were disappointed by the lack of volunteers attending. Often only the group leader and one volunteer visited a village where there were more than 40 children to provide activities for.
Complaints of loneliness were reported by solo travellers due to being in their own hotel away from the others.
Following the trial, it was decided that a volunteer house would enable everyone to stay together, increase the chance of more volunteering each day, keep costs down, prevent loneliness for solo travellers. There is also a kitchen unlike many hostels in Marrakech, where you can make a drink or light snack without asking permission enabling to avoid the constant eating out at cafes which can use up a tight budget.
Other operational costs not applicable to hotel owners is the part of the behind-the-scenes contract preparation and compliance with local authorities. Taking a group to charities requires specific legal paperwork and permissions which have to be signed off regularly by the local Police and health council, this is not something an individual would face, but Moroccan laws have tight laws for escorting groups to work with children and vulnerable adults.
Hotels can also focus simply on the contents of the hotel itself, for a volunteer programme, schedules must be arranged daily, then rearranged when charities cancel then heaps of paperwork to gain the permissions and organise the mandatory police inspections.
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 firmly 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!
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?
Volunteer numbers are variable and arriving into a ready-made group should not be expected. Please message us if you would like a project where there is more certainty that you will be with other volunteers at the time of your visit.
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 2019 Ramadan will be Sunday 5th May to Tuesday 4th June, 2020 will be 23rd April to 23rd May.
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.
What support when not volunteering?
The focus of the programme is the volunteering itself. Between activities, you will be expected to look after yourself independently as you would on any other holiday. It is not yet possible to provide a general leisure guide for the whole group for the periods when not volunteering.
During free time, volunteers not taking tours explore the souks of the walled Medina, shop, eat in cafes, shop and prepare meals at the volunteer house, relax in the volunteer house, make friends with volunteers.
What happens if I am ill?
Speak to a group leader or use the contact details you will be provided before arrival.
One in five visitors to Marrakech will experience stomach discomfort at some point, this is the most common complaint, normal and hard to avoid. Immodium tablets can be helpful for diarrhoea and painkillers for stomach ache. It can also be useful to take a few flavoured rehydrate sachets.
Serious health conditions requiring medical attention are extremely rare. The local team will organise a transfer to hospital.
Insurance is essential to make sure your hospital bills are covered. Without insurance, expect to pay £300 a day for the simplest of medical treatment.
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 coordinator (or host family) 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 accommodation.