Morocco is an Islamic country influenced by westernization due to its close proximity to Europe. A nation full of ancient cities, mixed with skyscrapers, deserts, and coastlines. From sipping a Moroccan mint tea in the Medina, to seeing a snake charmer perform in the streets, there are endless opportunities for those who volunteer in Morocco to experience the local culture. Though more developed than other African countries, Morocco is still working to improve women’s rights, help orphaned children, and develop local communities, so there are plenty of opportunities for volunteer work in Morocco.
Rabat, the capital of Morocco, is the country’s second largest city. Located in northwest Morocco on the Atlantic coast, there are many things to see and explore in Rabat. The Medina, or “old city”, has great shopping and is a perfect place to haggle with shopkeepers. Other sites of interest include the Kasbah of the Udayas, the Hassan Tower, and the Royal Mausoleum. Popular volunteer placements in Rabat include teaching English, childcare, working in orphanages, and helping with women’s empowerment projects.
Tangier is a city on the northern tip of Morocco, just a short ferry ride away from Spain. Many tourists take a day trip to Tangier from Tarifa or Algeciras, Spain. Tangier may be extremely close to Europe, but its Islamic culture is evident in the Old Medina, the Kasbah, and the historical Sultan’s palace. Those who volunteer in Tarifa can participate in placements related to healthcare, childcare, and teaching English.
The largest city in Morocco, Casablanca, is one of the most important industrial and economic centers in Africa. Located on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, Casablanca has a more cosmopolitan feel when compared to Rabat and Tangier, with modern architecture and a smaller ancient Medina. Education and teaching English are popular among volunteers in Casablanca
Projects & Placements
There are a variety of projects and placements that volunteers can participate in while in Morocco, including orphanage work, teaching English, women’s rights, caring for the disabled, and medical related placements.
Morocco has a law that prohibits citizens from having children out of wedlock, which has caused many children to become homeless and live on the streets. Therefore, there is a great need forchildcare volunteers to work in orphanages. Those who volunteer abroad in Morocco can spend time with children, plan activities for them, and even teach educational lessons. A basic level of French or Arabic may be required, but this is not always the case.
As the third language of Morocco’s educational system, learning English is important for Moroccan students. The increasingly international job market makes English a language that students are eager to learn. As an English teaching volunteer, volunteers in Morocco can work in various schools and organizations practicing conversational skills with students. These placements tend to have less qualifications than others, and usually only require native fluency in English.
Given its history with gender equality, there are many opportunities to volunteer with women’s rights organizations in Morocco. Activities include participating in workshops, campaigns, and discussions to increase awareness and fight against gender discrimination. Most women’s rights organizations require volunteers to be female and speak French or Arabic.
Many volunteer programs in Morocco involve volunteer work wth children with have disabilities. While volunteering in centers for individuals with disabilities, volunteers may participate in activities with the children, help them in their day-to-day routines, and even teach them English. These programs sometimes have a language requirement depending on the specific tasks required of volunteers.
For those with backgrounds in medicine, there are many organizations offering healthcare volunteer programs. Participants may work in clinics or hospitals providing healthcare for Moroccan citizens. Qualifications are dependent on the specific program, but they may require medical degrees or work experience in the field. Most medical volunteer programs in Morocco require participants to speak Arabic or French.
Program durations vary and can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of years. Many organizations provide volunteers with the ability to customize their program by choosing their program length.
Costs & Affordability
Compared to other countries, Morocco is relatively inexpensive. Of course, larger cities will be more costly, and there are certain areas of the city that will have better deals. For example, the cheapest place to eat in Moroccan cities will be in the Medina.
When it comes to buying souvenirs, volunteers in Morocco will have to keep in mind that shopkeepers may charge tourists more than locals. It is acceptable to haggle down prices, which is a great way to buy souvenirs at a fair price.
It is common practice that volunteer organizations in Morocco require volunteers to pay a fee to cover costs such as housing, food, in-country transportation, and even excursions. Therefore, many volunteers will only have to worry about personal expenses, such as eating at restaurants, entertainment, and souvenirs after paying for program fees.
Accommodation & Visas
There are many different kinds of accommodation available for volunteers in Morocco. Volunteers can stay in group living, a guest house, dorm-style living or a homestay. Many programs include housing, meals, and in-country transport. Some even include additional excursions in the program fee, or at least offer volunteers free time for independent travel.
For volunteer work in Morocco lasting under 90 days, American volunteers do not need a visa to stay in Morocco. However, if a volunteer program lasts over 90 days, volunteers will have to apply for an extension of stay and provide a reason well in advance of when they need the extension. Volunteers in Morocco should also keep in mind that they need to have a passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months after the end date of their program.
Benefits & Challenges
As a country where the predominant religion is Islam, there may be some personal religious and cultural conflicts that volunteers run into during their time in Morocco. Certain Islamic beliefs found in the Quran that relate specifically to women may leave some volunteers uncomfortable. It’s important for volunteers to be aware of these differences before departing. Many volunteer programs in Morocco have in-country support staff available to help volunteers deal with any issues they face during their time abroad.