Lauren Wilson Morocco

I was interested in volunteering abroad so I googled the question “volunteering abroad from the UK”, it came back with various companies after a bit of research and finding a facebook page with people’s views I decided that I would contact Original Volunteers. They were so helpful and emailed me all the information I requested that after only a few hours I decided to ask my employer for time off in July and spend time as a volunteer in Morocco. On the time building up to going I was anxious as I was travelling alone and excited about meeting new people.

When I arrived in Morocco I was instantly welcomed by the taxi driver and two other girls that arrived together, as the Riad was full we were taken to a local Riad for the night and met the coordinator Rachid who was very welcoming and reassured us we would be with the other volunteers the next day. We have stayed in touch ever since and although we live at opposite ends of the country we still chat on facebook.

I really enjoyed my volunteering trip in July 2011, the children were so happy to see you and made every effort to learn new skills. I took part in painting projects which were interesting as it was so hot the paint was drying as you were trying to paint! I got to visit the girls orphanages and boys orphanages, which I loved. I brought face paints with me and they went down really well. The only thing I would say is there was so many volunteers in the summer that we were drawing names out of a bag to decide who went to some of the projects such as; the baby centre. There was limited numbers allowed at the baby centre and I was lucky enough that my name was one of them pulled from the bag, it was such an experience they just craved attention and cuddles.

The feeding programme was so rewarding to see the children enjoying their time with us and to be told how some of the children only get one hearty meal a week made me appreciate what I have at home and how we take basic things for granted. While I was in Morocco in 2011 I also got the chance to visit the sahara, go to a berber house and another trip was to a place called the farm a fantastic swimming pool. I returned home (UK) feeling happy to see my family and determined that i was going to return to Morocco the following year with the aim to do as many projects as possible and return just before summer got busy.

I decided to return in June 2012 and there was such a difference, I was still welcomed by the taxi driver who recognised me and was trying his best to explain which Riad I would be staying in. Once I arrived at the Riad I was welcomed by Nora and later Rachid. I wanted to do all the projects I never got a chance to take part in and Rachid helped me by arranging for me to join other groups as long as it didn’t mean anyone else missing out. This time because I knew what I was doing I made the most of every moment. I took part in everything possible from helping in nursery’s, schools, street kids projects, local scout group, youth club, Down ’s syndrome school, baby centre, feeding programme and girls orphanage. It was amazing, I couldn’t of asked for a better or more rewarding time. I even got to meet other Open Hands workers and assist in making bags for feeding homeless people. I also got to go on a trip to the waterfalls which were just amazing, well worth the walk.

I have become a more confident person and appreciate what I have in my life, I have met some friends for life from my volunteering trips and have great photographs to keep from my time there. I didn’t want to go home and when I returned home I missed the noise and ways of the people. I found it really hard to adjust to living back in the UK and would love to spend longer in Morocco the next time. I am so amazed at the amount of work Rachid, Nora,Yousseff,Fatine and Amina do they are all such wonderful people.