If you’re searching for a destination that speaks to all of your senses, you’ll find it as a volunteer in Morocco. The country’s ancient medinas, quaint coastal towns, and vibrant spice markets remind you at every turn that you’ve left the familiar behind. For many globetrotting volunteers, Morocco provides an eye-opening first-hand look into Islam and all of its beautiful and historied layers. In Rabat, you will find yourself welcomed by people eager to participate in cultural exchange to experience this remarkable part of the world firsthand.
Morocco has its share of social issues including high rates of unemployment and because it is illegal to have children out of wedlock, many children who are living on the street. As a volunteer in Morocco, you’ll have an opportunity to work with local people to address some of these pervasive social issues. You’ll enjoy learning about the history and culture of a part of the world that you’ve always dreamed about as you lend your unique passion and experience working side-by-side with members of your new community.
Where you’ll stay in Azrou
Your Moroccan home away from home is located on a safe, beautiful property. You’ll find enough space around the home base to hang out, curl up with a cup of mint tea, or practice your Arabic. The home base includes a common area with a wrap-around couch. Living areas are communal and you’ll have more than enough space to keep your belongings.
And how could we possibly call this house a home without the aroma of fresh home cooked Moroccan cuisine floating from the kouzina — kitchen. Whether Fatiha, the cook, is preparing a savory couscous, or you’re learning the ins and outs of the perfect tagine with Khadija, the Program Officer/House Manager, you’ll enjoy a menu full of healthy and delicious meals.
When you walk in, you’ll find that the entire building is meticulously decorated from top to bottom with traditional artworks, magnificent antiques, and soft Berber rugs. It almost feels like you’re in a museum!
Who will support you
Mohamed Mhmmoudi comes to this program after six years with Peace Corps Morocco, where he provided cross-cultural interpretation and language training, managed program logistics, and ensured the safety and security of volunteers stationed throughout Morocco. A former professor of business law and a lifelong student of global affairs, Mohammed is often cracking jokes or engaging in thoughtful conversation with volunteers. HE enjoys visiting the Moroccan village where he was born and raised to see loved ones and take a ride on his donkey.
In Morocco, rapid urbanization and a greater intermingling of single men and women have resulted in a rise of unwed mothers over the past decade. Sadly, due to a lack of support and to avoid harsh punishment for having children out of wedlock, many mothers abandon their children, often on the streets. In state orphanages with few resources and overstretched staff, you’ll support The Child Development Project by providing one-on-one interaction and attention. Stretch an orphaned child’s imagination when you engage in creative play, improve the self-esteem of Morocco’s youth, and become a role model for the youngest and most vulnerable of society.
Families struggle to meet their healthcare needs when support and education are limited. In Morocco, your work to provide education to women on their rights, nutrition, and access to healthcare makes a difference for entire families. Or, work with children and their families as they’re navigating, often far from home, the hospitals of Rabat. Your efforts to improve the social determinants of healthcare as part of The Global Health Project will improve the ability of women, families, and communities to improve their own health outcomes.
Things to Do
Spend a few hours at the Chellah and lose yourself among the ancient Roman and Islamic ruins, where white storks perch lazily atop minarets, and the smell of the lush gardens float on the breeze.
If you’re new to Arabic, no worries. You’ll have an opportunity to participate in regular language lessons offered in the comfort of the Home-Base. Take advantage of these informal lessons to learn some of the basics of the language, as well as the history behind it.
Cook Moroccan Cuisine
Each week you’ll have a chance to roll up your sleeves and get experimental in the kouzina — kitchen — at Home-Base as you explore the incredible variety that makes up Moroccan cuisine. Whether you’re cooking a fragrant tagine or a rich lentil soup, you’ll be giving compliments to the chef yourself in no time!
Study Islamic History
A chance to learn about Islam is a huge motivator for lots of volunteers in Morocco, and the interactive Islam lecture is something that you can only get with us. By offering a first-hand perspective on Islam in a comfortable setting, our Country Director gives you the chance to ask questions and breakdown stereotypes.
See the Chefchaouen Falls
Hike the waterfalls and enjoy the beautiful blue-washed walls of Chefchaouen. This small city winds its way up the mountains of the Rif range and is rich with Berber culture and famous for its stunning blue-washed architecture; a definite must-see. Snap some photos as you weave your way through the azure architecture and around the local waterfall. Take a hike around the Rif mountains and end your day back in the medina – city center – with a warm cup of mint tea.
Hang Ten in Essaouira
Save a day or two to visit this low-key coastal town, and you’ll immediately appreciate its charm — and forget why shoes are a “thing.” In Essaouira, you’ll encounter barefoot travelers enjoying the sand between their toes, local woodworkers, and surfers chasing the break as you wander the strand along the shore. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Essaouira during June, you may just catch the annual Gnaoua Festival, featuring world music and drawing crowds by the hundred thousand.
Marrakech — known as the Pink City — will be sure to captivate. As you navigate the old city’s narrow streets, you may choose to barter with local merchants peddling from handcarts, visit the artisan quarter, or ogle the snake charmers in the main square. Come nightfall, the air over the city fills with smoke and sound, as it transforms into the world’s largest open-air eatery, with vendors touting an impressive selection of meat, and vegetables, as they cook on the roaring barbecues.
As you wander the 8,000 ancient, serpentine streets of Fez, you’ll be transported to another time. In Fez, a city that is literally thousands of years old, the colors and smells of the spice markets will flood your senses as local people vending leather goods and rugs call out to you, and five times a day, the Adhan — Muslim call to prayer — fills the arid sky. Around every corner in Fez lies a reminder that you are, in the best way possible, far from home.
If you’re looking to pack some extra international experiences into your time abroad, you’ve got great options. Volunteering in Morocco makes Spain and Gibraltar, not to mention Egypt, super accessible. So be sure to save some pages in your passport!
Spa Day at a Hammam
A visit to the hammam is not your typical day at the spa. Trade in your usual mani/pedi for a Moroccan steam, scrub, and shower, and you won’t be sorry. These traditional bathhouses are not just a great place to unearth that youthful glow, — you’ll be shocked when you see what a little elbow grease and exfoliation can do — they also serve as a very interesting window into Moroccan culture and will likely debunk any preconceptions that you may harbor about the role of women in Morocco.
Camel Ride in the Sahara
Cross one more item off your bucket list when you climb atop a camel for a ride into the desert expanse. Once you reach the Berber campsite, you’ll enjoy a traditional dinner of tagine — all sorts of delicious things made even more delicious when cooked together in a clay pot — and sip tea as the sun sets behind the dunes. Whether you choose to spend the night in a tent or under the Saharan stars, the most important part is waking up in time to catch the sunrise; trust us.