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Original Volunteers Morrocco

Page history last edited by n0516500@... 6 years, 4 months ago

Original Volunteers Morrocco

Partner institution: Original Volunteers Morocco

Website: http://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/destinations/morocco.html

 

Contributors (2012):

Charlotte Byrne

Chloe Frinton

Alice Garbutt

Rebecca Glover

Katie Ley

Lucy Maltby

Amy Richardson

Katie Riley Cartledge

Laura Shenton

Lauren Vickers

Contributors (2013):

Lindsay Amess

Jessica Amoako Yeboah

Harriet Blower

Gabrielle Coupe

Amy-Louise Cross

Laura Dugdale

Rebecca Ellis 

Harriet Kaye Emerson 

Natalie Rebecca Hand

Suriya Fiona Henry

Araminta Lawless

Alexandra Mayo

Hanny Mohamed

Anisa Mujahid

Gemma Oliver

Daisy Seaforth-Craigwell

Danielle Louise Sheppard

Bethanie Smith

Emma Tye

Danetta Eustene Williams

 

 

Contributors (2014):

Alyssa Farmer

Sian Bates

Rebecca Fisher

Amy Foster

Kelley Gibbons

Kaylie Knowles

Lauren Moseley

Laura Pritchett

Leia Quail

Annabelle Rowe

Jessica Waplington

 

Contributors (2015):

Jessica Auger

Victoria Chestnutt

Lucy Dove

Eloise Gregory

Bhavini Jethwa

Alice Jones

Lauren Kingsland

Naomi Lalor

Lauren Lockett

Reah Mayor

Gemma Melhuish

Lauren Simmons

Hazel Turner

Stacey Weston

Lauren Wilson

 

 

Instructions:

Contributors: for details on what is required in each section, please look at the Guidance Notes

 

Contents: 

Placement Information

Resources

Accommodation

Transport

Social life

Things to do, things not to do

Useful Contacts

Final Note

Costs

 

Placement Information 

 
When arriving in Morocco you will be met by Adel, one of the coordinators and a taxi driver, who will take you to the Riad where you will be staying. This taxi journey is organised with OV before you go and will take around 10-15 minutes. Be warned, the taxi driver does not speak any English and there is a short walk down a dark alley, which at first glance leaves you wary. When you arrive at the Riad, you will be greeted by one of the co-odinators or the house keeper (Rachid or Amina) and put into groups. These groups will be either the group you travelled with, or if travelling alone you are put into a group with other volunteers. To warn you, during the busier months, some groups get split up and stay in the other riad which is just down the alley from the main one - it is much smaller but has a good working shower and bath and is fine for smaller groups. If you would prefer to be in the bigger riad with more people, then just ask Rachid and may be able to sort something out for you like he did with us. 
Just as a warning, the facilities at the Riad are adequate but very basic; the kitchen consists of a gas hob, fridge, microwave and toaster so be prepared to eat out most nights. It also states on the website that there are washing facilities for your clothes, which we later found out was a bucket of water and a tap, although we were told that there was a laundrette round the corner. There also aren't many plugs in the bedrooms so it might be worth taking an extension lead to make getting ready easier in the mornings!

Projects:
Each week there is a timetable put up which informs you of what projects are on that week and times to meet. Sometimes there is more than one choice for morning and afternoon sessions, so you are able to choose where you want to volunteer. If you especially want to do a particular project, try and get your name down for it as soon as the timetable goes up because often when there are so many volunteers, the projects will only accept a certain amount of people to do each one! Volunteering usually consists of a morning activity/ placement and an afternoon one, with time to relax and eat back at the Riad at lunch time. When visiting any of the settings it becomes the group’s duty to be in charge of what activities take place with the children. It is important that you and the other volunteers going to the same project plan the appropriate activities in advance, to suit the age range of children you will be working with at the different settings. A coordinator, either Fatime, Fatima or Hannanah will meet you at the Riad, the arches or the taxi rank to go with you the projects. They can speak excellent English and they are very nice people who are happy to help and willing to answer any questions you have. The coordinators encourage the group to plan arts and crafts sessions with the children. There are arts and crafts resources available at the accommodation which you can take to the setting, but there is not a wide variety, so be prepared to bring your own. You're expected to take initiative and come up with ideas and take in resources for the children, often the teachers or members of staff at the setting speak little to no English so trying to communicate with them about what to do etc, can be difficult so be prepared for that. In order to avoid the language barrier, creating an example of your activity will give the children and members of staff an idea of what they are expected to do.

Some of the settings and activities which you may volunteer at or visit:   
  • Baby orphanage (Note: The nurses often only bring out between 4-6 babies so if a big group goes, some may not have much of a chance to sit or play with them and therefore you may want to go in a smaller group. It would be a good idea to take teething rings and other toys with you to play with the babies as they don't have many resources and babies need lots of stimulation!) 
  • Girls and boys orphanage (If the timetable says 'Boys Orphanage' or 'Girls Orphanage' expect to visit boys and girls in both, it is rare that you would be with just girls or just boys so try to take activities that will be fun for everyone.)
  • Tameshlot (This is an orphanage/school about half an hour taxi ride away. The children love skipping, football, balloons and bubbles, they will play with them for hours. Take lots of resources as there are a lot of children. Be warned, where you play with them, is basically a waste land, there is a lot of rubbish and broken glass so its recommended to wear trainers, however on the most recent visit in 2015 we played with the children on a big concrete football pitch within Tameshlot however this may have been a one off. It also gets very very hot as it is such a wide open space so wear a tshirt and light clothing.)
  • Street kids centres (Be prepared to get stuck in and sing songs and dance, they'll be expecting you to do so!)
  • Nurseries and schools (Note: The younger children speak Arabic, a few can speak very basic French but none of them can speak English, so be prepared for some language barriers. You may have to adopt some form of hand gestures/sign language to represent what it is you are trying to say and they usually understand what you mean after a while. They are more than happy to be shown what it is you want them to do and they love colouring in and making masks/crowns. Expect to be shown a lot of affection when you first get to these projects, children will come up and kiss you and want to hug you, however this is a part of their culture which is very flattering!)
  • Deaf and Mute children (This is a class of mixed ages, where you go in and play games with the children. Although sometimes it is difficult, it is a very good experience. Try and learn a few signs as a form of communication, however I found it easy to draw pictures to communicate with the children. It is extremely rewarding spending time with these children!) 
  • Painting projects (On a hot day, wear light clothing as you can be outside in the sun painting for hours. And definitely take plenty of water/sun cream.) 
  • Feeding programmes for homeless children and adults (You will be expected to put money towards buying food for the homeless, roughly 30 dirhams each. This will buy bread, cheese, ham and a drink or yoghurt, which you will need to get from the supermarket. You then go back to the Riad to make sandwiches (the sandwiches changed each time we did this). You then hand out to the homeless in the afternoon. This can be a bit daunting but the co-ordinator will ensure everyone is kept safe. We went into a small bookshop that had some men in who helped us to hand out the food, to ensure we were safe.
  • Remote villages 
  • Sahara Desert (Be warned, there is a lot of travelling, including at least a 6 hour bus journey on two days.)
  • Ouzoud Waterfalls (Definitely worthwhile going to. Be careful if you are scared of heights as you do walk up and down some steep cliffs/hills but it is nothing too daunting! You do the whole trip with a mountain guide who is very good and happy to hold your hand if you get scared! Make sure you wear trainers or walking boots!) This was one of the best days we had in Morocco! This involves roughly about 4 to 5 hours of travel, but there is a lot of beautiful Moroccan scenery en route. 
  • And even the Atlas mountains! (You stay in a Berber House on the edge of the Atlas mountains and learn how to make bread from scratch, tagines and mint tea. Definitely worth a trip but bring a jumper because it can get cold!) 
  • Berber house (At least 2 hours away in a taxi) overnight stay and be able to learn about the Moroccan- Berber culture. There is the opportunity to take part in a Moroccan tea making competition, as well as making Tagine, bread or taking a donkey to a well for water. In the evening they take you on a mountain climb/walk to experience the outdoor nature.  

Resources to take:
  • Face paints
  • Paint
  • Colouring Books
  • Coloured Paper or card 
  • Pencils
  • Masks
  • Googly eyes 
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Sequins
  • Thread to make bracelets (Could use wool instead)
  •  Beads
  • Tennis balls or footballs
  • Skipping Ropes
  • Bubbles 
  • Parachute games
  • Board Games
  • Pipe Cleaners to make crowns.
  • Balloons
  • Loombands 
  • Bubbles! (The young children love them when playing outdoors) 

 

NOTE: If you take any clothes or shoes or anything that you do not wish to bring home with you, leave them with a note in your room at the Riad and they can be given to the street children.

 

Spare Time:
Volunteers will usually get one or two days off a week to relax, however Rachid is very easy going and if there was a day trip you wanted to do with another group, he is more than happy to let you go whenever suits you best. If you go to the Sahara Desert, you can stay for up to 2 or 3 nights and go at any time. You are able to do some sight seeing, go shopping in the Souks or attend trips. Rachid the co-ordinator is very helpful to recommend and organise any trips you or your group would like to go on but he can be quite forgetful with so many people wanting to do different things, so make sure you remind him what it is you want to do and what day you want to do it. We went for two weeks and were hoping to do three trips however we were told we could only do one trip a week, therefore I would recommend planning ahead so you are not left disappointed.

 

NOTE: If you go to Essaouira (where the beach is) it will cost you around 80 dirhams for a return bus journey which you get from opposite Aswak Assalam (the main supermarket) Be prepared for people coming on and off the bus trying to sell you things or begging for money, this is just part of their culture. If someone tries to give you directions, they will expect money from you for it! It is also a very long, hot bus journey and gets very busy, people will be jumping on and off and it all seems a bit crazy. Bare this in mind before you decide to go and I'd recommend going early on a nicer day because we went on a cloudy day and it didn't seem worth the trip!) The volunteering timetable can be quite relaxed, it's expected for you to volunteer at all settings but if you are feeling unwell, or don't enjoy a particular activity there is no pressure for you to go. 

 

Prices:

 
To register with Original Volunteers it is: £145 
Accommodation each week is: £125

Return flights with Easyjet or Ryan Air etc. is: £100- £150 
Airport transfer per person is: £10  - When paying for accommodation online this fee is included. But arrangements for taxi back have to be made by you. Ask Rachid to organise this for you. For our taxi back to the airport we paid 100 dirham per taxi, we could squeeze two people and our luggage into a taxi so it ended up being 50 dirham each which isn't a lot.
Morocco is very cheap! It is 14 dirham to a pound. (2015)

Spending money for around 2-3 weeks: Around £250 should see you live comfortably for food, essentials, drinks and a few gifts (But this will depend on what you want to buy or see) NOTE: If you are staying for 3 weeks, I would recommend taking at least £300 to be safe. Some of us only took £250 for a 3 week stay and had to draw money out on a few occasions.  

THE MAIN SUPERMARKET:  Aswak Assalam. You will find this about a 5-10 minute walk away from the riad, ask Rachid to show you for the first couple of days in case you get lost, after this, you will know where it is and will be able to find your way as you often get dropped off here after a project. They have a wide selection of food, english/french/arabic and a very very good bakery which is very cheap aswell. You will be able to get everything you need to have 3 meals a day from here, as well and milk and tea bags!
 

Warnings:
If you have a fear of cats, be warned that they are everywhere! As well as cats you may find a few stray dogs, there are also many donkeys and horses pulling carts so be aware when walking down the small alleys near the Riad because it can get very busy. Moroccan men can also be quite rude/over friendly to females, as long as you respect their culture and ignore what they say you will be fine. Do not accept directions from anyone, they will expect money from you and often try to take you to their stalls in the souks. The majority are harmless but it is recommended that you go out in pairs or groups, keeping your wits about you. It does help if you wear clothing to your knees and cover your shoulders especially when out of the Riad at night as you often receive more attention during this period, rather than during the day. There is a curfew for a reason, it is for your safety and it recommended that you stick to the rules, everywhere around the Riads in the Medina closes at 11. You do not want to be walking around much after 11 as it can get quite dangerous! Be prepared on your first day because you might find it is a big culture shock and Morocco is very different compared to the UK. Around Marrakech you will see a lot of beggars and homeless people (ranging from very young children to elderly people), this can be quite upsetting but is a common problem in this country. You do eventually get used to it. They will ask for money, if you have some spare change feel free to give it to them but you obviously cant be expected to give money to every homeless person you see, this is something you will just have to accept, even though it can be quite upsetting.

It is also important to be prepared for the prayer calls that occur around five times a day. They are quite loud inside and outside the Riad as there are loud speakers all over the city, going off at various times throughout the day, the first call is usually around 4/5am in the morning. On your first morning there, you may get woken up by these which can be rather startling, however, some people get used to them, others will be woken up by the time throughout the stay, this is something you will just have to put up. Be prepared, you may have a few weeks of pretty bad sleeping! 


Photos of the Projects.

The first photo was taken in the grounds of the 'Big Orphanage', which is the second biggest orphanage in Europe and the biggest orphanage in Africa. It is like its own little village behind gates with everything the children could need, it has great facilities and is well maintained. The second photo was taken inside the baby orphanage, this room is where you will spend time playing with the babies. The third is a photo of an area in the 'Boys Orphanage', the fourth is the area you play with the children at Tameshlot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                       

 


Accommodation

 

The accommodation you will stay in is a Riad, also known as a shared house. Bedrooms are shared between 2 to 4 people and there are 3 floors, 2 kitchens, 2 showers and many bedrooms. There is wifi in both Riads, Rachid will give you the password to access it so you will be able to contact home. The wi-fi can be temperamental especially if on the ground floor and the house is very full.  Rachid also has a computer and printer in his office on the top floor so if you need any documents printed during your stay you can ask him to print something off for you. The very top of the Riad is a sun terrace complete with some sun beds which are very useful on days off when it’s hot! You can also wash your dirty clothes up here and hang them over the wall. (They dry quite quickly on a hot day). The Riad is close to most things really with a 5 minute walk to the local supermarket. There are also many small restaurants and food stalls which serve a range of different foods which are just outside of the Riad. It is based in a local community called the Medina, which is a very busy area with lots of market stalls and people on donkeys and racing about on bikes, be careful of this! Although facilities in the Riad are basic, they are sufficient for a comfortable stay. However, be aware that the showers may be temperamental and need time to heat back up again in between uses. There is one combined shower and toilet on the ground floor which can be shared by as many as 16 people. It often helps to plan a shower routine with others on your floor of the Riad. You are not allowed to put toilet paper in the toilet due to the poor drainage systems and there is a big open lidded bin in the bathroom for this to go in.There is a lovely lady called Amina who works at the Riad, she is often found cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen and floors, she will expect you to keep your rooms tidy, to wash up everything after you use it and throw your rubbish away, as you would be expected to do so at home. Don't let the areas get messy as they attract flies and cockroaches. You should still keep your personal belongings tidy, in order to prevent lost items. We used our suitcase padlock to lock our wardrobes when out of the Riad. Amina can also show you some great Moroccan cooking techniques! You will need to take a sleeping bag and pillow with you and it is recommended to take an extra sheet as it can get cold at nights, however if you forget there are spare ones available if needed. The call to prayer will most likely wake you up at a ridiculous time in the morning, but you will soon get used to it and learn to embrace it. Also be aware that there are a couple of domestic cats in one of the riads, they are completely harmless but enjoy jumping on furniture and going into the volunteer rooms. So keep your door closed if they are around.  You will be spending the majority of your time with the people in the house so learn to love their quirky habits (snoring, sleep talking... etc) and you will have an amazing time. 

 

  

   

 

 

 


Transport

  

The roads in Morocco are very different to home, they are very busy! When going to and from your projects you will either walk, get a bus or taxi. The co-ordinator for Original Volunteers will put you in a taxi and tell the driver where to take you, so you do not need to worry about getting lost! Taxis are shared like buses, six people, plus the driver can share one taxi and they stop to let other people in. You will get to know the rest of the volunteers very well! Seatbelts are also not often in use in Morocco so you may be wary or slightly scared when in the taxi. In Morocco it is extremely cheap to travel, taxis usually cost 4-5 Dirhams per journey, which works out around 30p! When travelling to projects in villages, the public buses are used, again the OV coordinator will go with you, but the buses are not up to the same standards as the UK and get very busy. You often do not get a seat and it can be extremely hot due to the amount of people on the bus so make sure to have a drink on you in case you are feeling faint. Walking through the streets of Marrakech is a surreal experience but you will get used to it after a day or two. Motorbikes and donkeys carrying carts are very common amongst the pedestrian streets, but they will not run you over as long as you avoid them, be prepared to move out of the way quickly as they will not slow down for you! On your first few days it can seem quite daunting when crossing the roads because vehicles rarely stop at pedestrian crossings to let you across, at first we found it best to cross with the locals or stick in a group and all walk out together because the cars will stop, you just have to be confident and quick.Big taxi's take up to 6 people (yes, 6! 2 people in the front and 4 in the back) and small taxis which are in the town centre called new town take up to 3 people, its very different to England as they don't use seat belts. Taxi rides are super fun and enjoyable, especially if you like the close proximity of other human beings and sitting on your friends lap. Even on buses they fit as many people as they can and sometimes people have to tap on the top of the door for the bus to stop as here we have a bell allowing the bus driver to know to stop. 


Below is a photo of the taxi rank.

 

 

 


Social Life

  

The Moroccan social life is very different to ours in the UK. You will notice that most residents socialise during the day and that bars and clubs were not a typical place to be, especially for women and because it is part of the Muslim culture not to drink. However there are many cheap places to go out to eat either in the Souks, New town or the Old town. There are only a few places in the Medina which sell alcohol, the first is called Cafe Arab, it is about a 10 minute walk from the Riad, through the beginning of the souks to get to. It is advised to go with someone who has been before on your first couple of times as you are likely to get lost and definitely recommended to go in larger groups. The prices here are quite high as it is one of the few places in the Medina you can drink. They charge between 90 and 110 dirham for cocktails and the food is quite pricey but very nice. Its a nice place to go in the evenings as a group. One of the other places is called Rock'n'kech, you go up a lot of stairs and end up on a big rooftop, its very pretty. Drinks prices are still quite expensive, but they do sell some cheap-ish beers if you like those. Rock'n'kech is in the directions of the Souks, it is recommended due to the Islamic culture you do not get drunk, especially as in the rules at the Riad you are not allowed to be drunk in the premises, its also advisable for your own safety not to drink too much anyway, and always stick together. You are more likely to find the nicer places to eat in New town, which may be a bit more expensive than Old town and the Souks (however, not much more though). 

New Town is a short walk from the Riad (around 10 - 15 minutes) but may be best to get a taxi the first time so you don't get lost. Be aware when getting a taxi to new town as they try and charge a unreasonable price, once you know your way, it is recommended to walk to save you money. The New Town has lots of modern shops including Zara, Mango, Stradivarius, Mcdonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Carte Dor and Accessorize. It has some lovely places to eat and drink, including a place called Elite which do some lovely meals and isn't too expensive. Also get Rachid to write down the address of the Riad in Arabic as the taxi drivers misunderstood our pronunciation when we were trying to get home. The Medina is a big place and you may get dropped off at the other side of where you need to be so be careful when asking to get dropped off that you keep an eye out for where you are being taken.
In the town square there are a range of different places to eat. Throughout the markets there is 'street food' which is where you can sit under plastic covers and have food made in front of you and eat together along long benches. Alternatively, there are a number of restaurant and roof top terraces around the edges of the square which you can go to eat. The roof top terrace restaurants are a great idea to go to when it is mild out at night, as you can sit outside and look over the market square to see everything that is going on down below. If you go early enough you can also watch the sunset go down over the city. 

The first photo is of the Town Square which is extremely busy at night. There are hundreds of stalls to buy from or to eat at. The stall owners will try and get you to come to their stall, be prepared to say 'no' and walk on! Be warned, there are horse and carriages, monkeys and snake charmers around the town square, do not get caught taking photos as you will get asked to give money to the owners. There is a lot a children begging in the evening or trying to get you to buy tissues from them. This can be quite distressing to start with but be strong and say no and they will leave you alone. Also be aware of ladies in the square offering henna, as if they see you are interested they will come and try to put in on you as you walk past, and then charge you for it (they also don'y use organic henna so you can develop a rash from it). If you are interested in getting henna whilst in Morocco talk to Adel or Rachid as they know a lovely lady who lives round the corner from the Riad who is very talented and has quite reasonable prices- plus she uses organic henna! The second is of the New Town, much more modern and quieter than the Medina.

 

         

 


Things to do, things not to do

 

It is advised not to ask locals for directions or let them take you to a place you are trying to find as they will expect money in return. Many Moroccans are very friendly and helpful, but will not always do something for nothing, taxis are the best way to get around if venturing far and a price can be negotiated before travelling. When taking photo's of street entertainers especially in the square expect to pay them a couple of dirhams in exchange for taking photographs (or do it discretely from a distance.) If visiting the square before sunset you will see monkeys and snake charmers. There are a list of rules in the Riad- Stick to them!!!! They are there for a reason and for your safety, and are not unreasonable. They include a curfew and dress restrictions. Morocco is a strong Islamic country and their culture and values should be respected, this includes dressing appropriately. It is recommended covering up between your knees and elbows, as well as your chest (if a girl). Even when the weather is hot this is not an unreasonable demand, and you will realise you stand out for all the wrong reasons if choose not to do so.


Go to the souks - Leave yourself a few hours when visiting the souks because it is like a giant maze inside and it is quite easy to get lost on your first time. You will find many stalls and shops with men sculpting wood and many other things, it is the perfect place to practise your bargaining skills (shop owners will set a high price at first but it is easy to bargain items down!) A good tip is to be confident, find a price you're prepared to pay and stick to it and don't let them see in your purse/wallet in case you do have more money!

Visit Berber Village
- If you get the chance to visit Berber Village you should take this amazing opportunity. You will stay for one night in a Berber House, learn to either make Tagine, Bread or take the donkey to get water from the well. It is very chilly in the Berber House so ensure you take plenty of layers to keep warm. There is the chance to get involved in a spot of light competition with mint tea making (the winner gets a certificate and a silver tea pot!) You will also be involved in plenty of dancing and singing with other residents and experience Moroccan culture (This is great fun). There are periods when there is not much to do, so I would recommend taking some cards or a book with you to keep you entertained. It will be the best nights sleep you have while in Morocco! Cost for the whole trip is around 250 dh about £20-£23 (150dh for the house and 70dh for travel both ways.)


Visit a tourist Hamman
- For a full body massage, clay rub, sessions in the steam room and exfoliating scrub, it costs about 300 DH (about £25) and you are in there for about 2 hours.


Visit the Sahara desert
- there is a choice of nights to stay. There is a trip which you go to the sand dunes and camp over night in a tent, eating, singing and dancing around the camp fire. The Sahara trip is a worthwhile experience, but be prepared to travel. For the 3 day stay you will travel around 11 hours on the first day, stopping off at a hotel for the night, on the second day you will travel around 9 hours and on the final day it will be around 12 hours again. There are plenty of stop offs along the way for sightseeing and food and drink. But these can be very expensive compared to Marrakech prices, so try and take as much with you as possible. However, during the 6th-8th April there is a yearly festival which takes place in Zagora. It costs 300DH for two nights stay in a lovely hotel with a pool and views to die for, with food and transport included. BARGAIN! It is lots of fun as you are involved in a dance, football match with a local girls team, a half marathon (optional) and camel rides and much more.


Ride a camel
- You do not need to go to the Sahara if you just want to ride a camel, you can also go to La Menara (10-15 minute taxi ride from the Riad) and have a short ride there taking you around the gardens. Try and bargain a price as they will often try to charge a lot more. The Menara Gardens are a nice place to visit on a hot day, you can walk around and sit by the lake and there are some stunning views! If you ask Rachid he can give you details about prices and how much it would cost in a taxi to get there.


Visit the Ouzoud Waterfalls
- This is an amazing experience and the falls are beautiful (remember to take your camera!) This trip costs about 200 DH (about £15) and an extra 40 DH for a guided tour which is recommended! The tour guide speaks very good English and is able to tell you about the history of the waterfalls and will take you on a trek around the beautiful scenery beforehand. There is a ledge which the tour guide stops at and allows you to jump off the ledge which is around 6 metres high. There is a short boat-ride that will take you right next to the Waterfalls which is often welcome after a day in the sun, before stopping to have lunch in a restaurant by the falls. You will also have the chance to see and feed some of the local wild monkeys who live there with nuts purchase nearby! They are really cool to see and are tame so will come up to you or attempt to climb up you! However, be warned the monkeys will try to grab the bag of nuts if they get the chance, so hold them tight!

Majorelle Gardens - These gardens are located about a 15 minute walk away from the supermarket, however they can be extremely hard to find so you may want to get a taxi there. The gardens cost 50 dirhams to get into and the museum has a 25 dirham entry fee. The gardens are very beautiful, with lots of different fountains as well as a range of different plants and trees. There is a general route of the garden with sign posts to direct you and many places for you to sit down and take pictures. There is also a small restaurant/cafe within the gardens in which you can eat Morocco's traditional food and tea that they make. Yves Saint Laurent's ashes have also been spread in the gardens and this is shown to you at a particular part. It is super relaxing walking round here after a few long hectic days of volunteering, definitely recommend!
 

 

   

Ouzoud Waterfalls                                                      Inside of Berber House                       Sahara desert (blurry pic because of the camels moving!)      
 
Moroccan Green Tea (Competition at the Berber House) 


Useful Contacts

 

The Original Volunteers website is a useful tool to gain extra knowledge on the project. Also Facebook pages have been set up where you can find out who's going and ask others that have been, questions! Once you have paid for the trip with Original Volunteers you will also be given Rachid's email and contact details who is the main coordinator in Morocco. He is very helpful and will answer any questions or queries you have before you go. 


NOTE: Before some of us went to Morocco, we weren't aware of the Organisation behind Original Volunteers in Morocco. This is called Open Hands. If you want to find out more information about Open Hands, you can email Rachid at assiraj1@hotmail.com or visit the website www.openhandsmorocco.com or search it on facebook.

 


Before you go  

Make sure you take a French dictionary with you, as this well help you communicate with the local people as it is the second spoken language in Morocco. You can't change your English money into Moroccan Dirhams until you enter the country, but it is advisable to do it at the airport as out of the airport the exchange rates may be much lower. (Make sure you change it back to English before you go through security on your return journey. Keep hold of the receipt that they will give you when you first change your English money to Moroccan Dirhams otherwise you won't be able to change it back.) (In addition, when changing your money it may be advised to ask for smaller notes, as you may find it difficult to spend a 200 Dirham note when you are out and about.) Consider how you are going to contact home, not many people realise that not all contract simcards work when you go abroad unless you contact the phone company before hand. To be sure you have a way to contact home easily, set up something before you get there as it will be a lot easier this way. However, there is WiFi in the Riad you just need to ask Rachid for the log in details, so don't worry about spending a lot of money texting home! 

Before you get off the plane in Morocco you will be given an immigration form to complete. I stress how important it is to take down a note beforehand of the full address of the volunteer Riad which is The Main Volunteer House/Riad:Derb El Haj El Houssaine; Number 5, Bab Doukkala, Medina, Marrakech. If you can not provide these details on your immigration form you will have a very hard time getting into Morocco as the passport control officers are extremely strict with this!

Vaccinations- There are some vaccinations that are recommended before you travel to Morocco , although not all are not essential. However due to the nature of the work, these injections are an important consideration. The following are recommended, but will depend on your vaccination history, so you should talk to a doctor for advice in advance.
Tetanus- usually free. (Not essential for Morocco but your choice.)
Typhoid- usually free. (Essential)
Hep A- usually free. (Essential)
Hep B- a course of 3 injections costing around £90. (Your choice. Some people have Hep A and Hep B together as a course, others just had Hep A and were fine!)
Rabies- usually costing around £50. (Not essential but again, your choice and speak to your doctor beforehand)

On a final note:
Placement with Original Volunteers in Morocco is a great and rewarding experience. Go with an open mind and be prepared for a completely different culture and way of life. Expect a language barrier particularly with the young children. Be willing to get stuck in and come up with fun activities for the children, they will play with anything. The children are all lovely and really appreciate you being there; a little to us, is a lot to them. Expect to experience a completely different way of living for however long your stay is and be prepared to witness some possibly shocking and upsetting things. It may be hard to begin with and take some getting used to but stay positive, embrace it and make the most of it. Remember, you're there to make a difference and to help the children, you will only be there for a couple of weeks, as hard as it may seem for you at the time, you will be coming home, for the people you'll see and will be working with, it is their home. 

Costs

Many things at the market start at a high price it is up to you as bargainers to lower the prices, if they have a certain price they stick to it at times when you walk away they keep lowering the price for you to purchase from their stall as it is competition out there. 

Overall it is very cheap in Morocco, as it doesn't cost much as 14.9/15 Moroccan dihrims is a £1.

 

 

 

 

                    

 

Food

 

During your stay you will likely eat a lot of traditional Moroccan food. The food there is very cheap, for example; a panini, chips and a drink is 20 dihrims, which is a enough for a meal. There is a panini shop literally on the Riads doorstep! You will also see many places offering tajine and cous cous. A lot of the meals do contain meat, so for vegetarians it can sometimes be a little difficult. However a lot of places do offer pizzas and some other meat free dishes. Tajine is a slow cooked dish, similar to a stew. You can normally choose from a variety of different ones such as; chicken, lamb and vegetable. It often comes with potatoes, vegetables and olives, along with spices for seasoning. This dish is actually named after the pot which it is cooked in, a natural clay pot consisting of two parts. The base is like a bowl, but is mainly flat with just raised edges, whereas the top is shaped like a cone. 

                  

 

There are also places to eat which offer a variety of other foods, foods which you may be more familiar with such as western style foods. There are also places such as KFC and McDonalds. In New Town you can often find many restaurants which offer western style foods if you are not keen on the traditional food out there. However it is a good idea to try something new while you're out there. After a hard day of volunteering you may feel to tired to venture out. There is a pizza take away that will deliver to the Riad which is very nice. Adel or Rachid will call and order it for you. The menu is usually found on the board next to the timetable.

 

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