Volunteering in Morocco!
Volunteering with children abroad has always been of interest to me and I told myself that 2014 would be the year to do it! Having discovered Original volunteers, I instantly took a like to the projects in Morocco.
Fitting in a month’s worth in just one week!
I only booked a week because of work commitments but I felt like I fitted in a month’s worth of activities so it was a worthwhile amount of time. I booked my flights about 4 months before my departure date with Easyjet for a fairly cheap price and I was happy with the overall service they provided me to and from Marrakech.
I flew from Manchester and met 3 other volunteers who I had been speaking to leading up to my trip. On arrival at Marrakech, we had to wait 3 hours to get through Passport control due to a lack of staff, however once we got through, several drivers and a volunteer co-ordinator was waiting to greet us.
Lauren with volunteers and children at a Marrakesh project.
The Riad we stayed in was clean, safe and I felt like a local.
I had no expectations regarding accommodation, I just brought a pillow and a thin sheet! I was pleasantly surprised with the Riad, it was clean, safe and I felt like a local as the decorations were very Moroccan-like!
I shared a room with 3 other girls with 3 other people stayed in a room next to us. We all shared a bathroom and kitchen and an outdoor seating area.
Living only 10 minutes from the main square.
The bedroom had air conditioning and the bed was comfortable enough. The location of the Riad was pretty perfect, it only took 25 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes walking to reach the main square.
The only annoyance was the loudness on a night; since the Riad was situated on a main street, and a few locals hovering around the front door!
Lauren on an overnight camel trek in the Sahara.
A variety of projects and unexpected experiences.
My first day was spent at a private nursery and a deaf and mute centre. Both very different and both very rewarding. I took colouring books to the nursery and did face painting at the deaf and mute centre.
The kids at the deaf centre let us watch a dance performance which was pretty amazing to see and they had such vibrant personalities despite their difficulties.
The other projects I visited was a baby orphanage, youth centre, local school and a boys and girls centre. All of which I spent around 2 hours each at and met some lovely kids who just wanted to have fun and laugh!
They didn’t complain about their situation once and although the language barrier was fairly evident, most of the time I could understand them.
Lauren took this photo at the Ouzoud waterfall a popular day trip for volunteers from Marrakesh
My trip to the Ouzoud waterfall!
On my time off I booked the Waterfalls day trip and the 2 day trip to the Sahara desert. The waterfalls took around a 3 hour drive and we got there just before lunch. We were met by a tour guide who took us from the top of the waterfalls to the bottom stopping now and again to talk about the area.
Once at the bottom we had a little dip in the water and drank some fresh juice (A lot of people wouldn’t buy the local fresh orange juice because for whatever reason, they had it in their heads that it would make you sick. Please do not listen, the juice is freshly squeezed in front of your eyes and tastes delicious! These people were missing out).
We then took a 10 minute boat trip around the waterfall which was just breath-taking and cost 10 dirham. After this, we had a lovely lunch overlooking the waterfall which was delicious, chicken skewers with chips, bread and salsa and fruit!
The trip altogether lasted around 5 hours and at the end everyone gave the tour guide around 20-30 dirhams. This was a cheap and extremely lovely day trip that I definitely recommend going on!!
Lauren’s tip “Learn a little French, a lot of the kids understand French!”
My camel trek into the sahara desert ended at an Aladdin’s cave.
The Sahara Desert was probably my favourite trip I went on during my time in Morocco. It really was a once in a lifetime experience. The journey to the desert took 10 hours but we stopped several times along the way and even visited a Berber village where scenes from Game of thrones have been filmed!
I must say also, the drivers for both trips were absolutely BRILLIANT, they knew the roads, bends and bumps and drove extremely safely when driving up and around mountains.
Once we reached our destination, the driver prepared everyone with our scarfs to protect our face and eyes from sand, and then we picked a camel! The camel ride lasted about an hour and half in which we arrived at our overnight accommodation in the desert.
I was expecting a 2 man tent from B&Q but no, these tents were like Aladdin’s cave, all fitted out with patterned colourful carpets and rugs with a low mattress and pillows. The camp site even had toilets and a shower!
The 3 local men hosting the evening provided us with a lovely feast of chicken and vegetable tagine, Moroccan soup, Moroccan tea and fruit. The group consisted of around 20 people and only myself and a friend were volunteers, the rest were tourists (other volunteers were moaning about the time travelling).
“The whole trip was absolutely fantastic and I would of quite happily paid a lot more!”
On the evening we sat around the main tent and listened to the guys play on their drums and sat in the darkness looking at the stars, it was truly beautiful. Then in the morning, we woke at 6am to watch the sun rise over the sand banks…..It couldn’t of been any better!!!!!
The guys fed us bread and butter and tea for breakfast and then it was back on the camels to get our ride back.
The whole trip was absolutely fantastic and was one of the best experiences of my life. It was totally worth every minute travelling and the sights along the way were unforgettable. The trip was also very cheap!!!! I would of quite happily of paid a lot more!
The co-ordinators organised a taxi ride to the airport upon my departure which was 100 dirhams so make sure you save a bit of money at the end of your trip for that.
My big tips for a great volunteer trip in Morocco!
· I didn’t see one bug/insect the whole time I was there!
· Don’t bother with makeup or hair straighteners etc,
· I also didn’t take a mobile phone because I felt like it was a good time to escape and get away from the social media world.
· TIP: Expect nothing and then you cannot be let down
· Take clothes for the kids!
· Haggling is a skill……I learnt to walk away from stalls when they wouldn’t offer me the price I wanted. They soon came running after me!
· Get a black henna tattoo, they last for 2 weeks and look beautiful
· Take a horse and carriage ride through the city, it’s lovely
· Learn a little French beforehand, a lot of the kids understand French!
Lauren volunteered in Morocco June 11th to 18th 2014.