Maria Collins Morocco

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

Fatimzzahra took me and a small group to Casablanca for five days to help out at a children’s camp. During this time I shared a tent with her and got to know her very well. She led the group amazingly and was always making sure everyone was happy. She made the most impact on me as she was so lovely to get along with and genuinely cared about the group. One night I was so cold in the tent and she gave me her blanket to put over myself so I was not cold. She became a great friend as well as being the group co-ordinator!

What were your impressions of the accommodation?
I loved Riad 9. It felt cosy and really became home. I loved how it was a bit rough around the edges as it felt more traditional.

Why did you want to volunteer?
To try something new and different and to also gain confidence in myself by going to a new country.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes I did. By making a child’s day by spending time with them and giving them the time of day. By making them feel special and making them smile.

What did you do for fun?
Shopping at the souks, trips to the Sahara and waterfalls and also sight-seeing around Marrakech.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
A Moroccan man showed us around Marrakech and spent a few hours being our personal tour guide. At the end of the tour he did not ask for any money off us. He simply wanted a postcard from Newcastle because he loved Newcastle so much and loved Geordie people!

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I made friends with everyone in my Riad and also the other riads. Everyone was lovely and everyone was there for the same thing, to volunteer and make as difference. With that in common everyone made friends.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise
At the riad was the best place to socialise as it was away from the hustle and bustle of the streets.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes Because I loved how relaxed it was.
There was enough time to travel on your days off. It was the perfect balance between travelling and exploring the culture and working with the children there.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
If you’re new to volunteering Marrakech is definitely the best place to start because it is very relaxed. If you are looking for every day volunteering then Marrakech probably isn’t the best place for it.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
If you suffer from hay fever back home, pack hay fever tablets especially if you’re going in August time. All the dust and dirt on the streets of Marrakech set my nose and eyes off everyday, so pack some just incase. They literally saved my life over there.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
£150 per week minimum. Probably even less if you don’t eat out and shop at the souks.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
If you go in summertime you do have to be patient as the children are on their holidays there too, so sometimes projects fall through or sometimes projects start later than planned. Sometimes it is a let down but always have a back up plan to do something else to avoid doing nothing.