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About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

The placement came from a rather unexpected phone call from an old school friend who I always shared a common desire to go travelling. He told me the placement was good for a range of volunteering activities and that the one year guarantee of being with Original Volunteers meant that within a year of volunteering at the first place, it would be easier for us to volunteer at another site around the world.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Through family or friends

Application process

The application process is open to almost all ages but they mostly look for students, meaning you have to demonstrate in the application why you think volunteering now will give you greater insight into a volunteering and aid work based career. Aside from stating aspirations and answering basic details, the application process is easy once they receive a CRB (criminal record background check) and copies of your flight details.

Main responsibilities

The volunteering placement was for 19 days involving helping out at special needs school which involved colouring, teaching English and swimming. Keeping babies occupied at a baby orphanage where resources and nurses are stretched, feeding the local homeless and volunteering in village schools outside Marrakesh doing outdoor activities such as cleaning, athletics and mural painting to improve the aesthetic quality of schools.

Typical day

No day was in a sense typical, as activities differed with each passing day. A special day for me was a visit to a Berber inhabited village outside of Marrakesh called Ourika. The first task was a competition between the kids to see who could collect the most litter in the village, followed by a giant waterfight and classroom activities. Two boys I worked with, Hisham and Ayyub were extremely respectful and I warmed to them straight away as they offered me local fruit and introduced me to their friends which gradually led to a waterfight! Feeding the homeless involved packaging sandwiches and fruit and distributing it to homeless people of both sexes.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

Meeting some great children all with a keen interest in meeting people that they don't see on a daily basis, especially from different countries. Speaking for myself, at the end of the activity especially with the heat during the day, I felt exhausted but in the good sense. Each activity was a satisfying thing which always made you look forward to the next one. As well as this, the flexibility between volunteering projects and weekend excursions meant that you were not trapped in Marrakesh for the duration. This meant I spent a two nights with a very hospitable Berber family who taught me how to make Moroccan cuisine, Tajine. In addition, a few of us visited the 2nd highest waterfall in Africa and 2 nights in the Sahara Desert.

Challenging aspects

Sanitary aspects and food were not always great but that comes as part of the experience. There were some disturbing examples of treatment towards working animals there as well as neglect towards drug induced children in the street. These aspects I hope will be targeted by the volunteer association in future, in order to help the community to a greater extent.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

I took a 10 credit module in Arabic during my first year at University so I was fluent in reading signs in the streets and requesting for things in basic Arabic in numbers and literacy. I also put this to the test in the volunteering itself, when I was teaching the English Alphabet and applied the rough Arabic equivalent letter sound to make learning more efficient for the kids.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

I am sure that I don't want to be involved in a job where someone else is profiting off my work and it made me realise that such a career choice similar to what I did would see direct results and make work actually enjoyable. Whilst it has not made me see the career I want, it nonetheless reassured me of the type of work I aim to find based on the reasons stated above.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

If you are learning French or Arabic, Morocco is the place to go. If you want to get away from the groundhog motion of daily life and do a bit of good for others, do this or another volunteering project with Original Volunteers. If you are thinking about a future career in charitable work, NGO, civil service or any form of working for a good cause, then do this.

Other comments

Don't be worried about going on your own as you meet many like minded and friendly people their, both volunteers and children.

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Form completed: 20 Jul 2017

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