2 Week Specials, Care & Community in Morocco by Lucy Marchant
Choosing my project
Last year I volunteered in Romania on a Care project with another charity, and was quite disappointed by the lack of organisation and safety regulation on the project. I felt that I was not able to help at the orphanage to the best of my ability, and that if I had a personal problem I would not be able to turn to a staff member for help. That is why, this year, having decided to volunteer again, I chose to research charities and individual projects more thoroughly to guarantee a safe and productive experience. This search led me to Projects Abroad. The wealth of information about host countries, projects and families impressed me greatly.
I knew I wanted to do another care project, and eventually decided that the 2 Week Special option worked best for me. I would definitely recommend this project to other volunteers in my age group (16-19) as it means you will be safe and left wanting for nothing, due to the attentiveness of accompanying staff while on your project.
Once I had decided the nature of my project, all that was left to choose was the location. After looking through the wide range of options, I chose Morocco for a variety of reasons. Practically, there were the shorter flight times and lower price tag, but more important was my desire to visit the African continent, experience a Muslim culture (particularly during Ramadan!) and immerse myself in the local traditions of Morocco.
My first impressions
As I had gathered from my research, the Morocco Care and Community 2 Week Special was a very well-organised project from the outset. There were two other volunteers on my flight, which took the pressure off travelling alone. When we arrived in Casablanca airport we were greeted by a staff member who drove us into Rabat and walked us to our accommodation: the house of a local family in the medina.
The house was beautiful, spacious and located in the most buzzing part of the medina, with fantastic views of the street market and local mosques from the roof. The three of us shared a bedroom on the second floor, with comfortable sofa beds and a bathroom to ourselves. The family we stayed with welcomed us with open arms. On the first night there was an occasional language barrier, but my broken French, and the fantastic English of our house mum’s son and daughter, helped us through. Our first meal was the Ramadan breakfast, where we first fell in love with Moroccan tea!
The next morning we were given information packs detailing the next two weeks of activities, and taken to meet the other volunteers.
My Care project
For the next two weeks, excluding the weekend, we spent the hours between 10am and 12pm at AMESIP – a sort of day school for under-privileged children. We joined in and helped with a variety of activities, from sack races and skipping to arts, crafts and musical chairs. I enjoyed getting my face painted, helping my team to a respectable second place in the football tournament and teaching the children some of my own songs and games. The kids were all well-behaved and enthusiastic to the last degree, and by the end of our trip I felt I knew many of them extremely well. It was with a heavy heart, after a lively water fight and an emotional Thank You song, that we said our goodbyes on the final day of our placement.
My Community project
After eating lunch with our host families, we started at our second placement, where we were joined by some other volunteers. At an education centre for older pupils, we helped with the construction of a cafe in the garden and with the maintenance of the centre’s outer wall. As a team we worked on mixing cement, sanding and painting walls, and constructing metal foundations for the building. A particular highlight was decorating the outer wall of the centre with pictures of butterflies, the globe and the word ‘Welcome’ in a dozen language on our last day. We even painted our hands, and the hands of local children, to press against the wall!
Free time in Morocco
Almost every evening during our stay we were involved in some sort of social outing or activity. We visited local cafes for ice cream, took a lesson in Moroccan history and culture and, best of all, had the chance to dance along to a live Moroccan band on our music and henna night. At the weekend we were able to have a look around the exotic gardens in Sale, as well as taking a day trip to the beautiful city of Fez. While there, we were shown around the medina by an expert tour guide and picked up some fantastic souvenirs along the way. Each and every one of our free time activities was well-organised and enjoyable.
Back in Scotland
Packing up my bags and saying goodbye to my host family, the staff and my fellow volunteers was an extremely difficult thing to do. I made some truly amazing friends on my trip who I hope to stay in touch with for a long time. It’s been a couple of months since I returned home but I still miss the people and the placement a lot. I would recommend a similar project to anyone looking to have a fun time in a great country while doing something worthwhile!