Frances Hurst opens up about experiencing volunteering in Morocco.

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Back in March when revision procrastination was in full swing I began to think about what I wanted to do with my summer. Being a second year Business Management student at the time the thought of getting a graduate job (or any kind of job upon graduation) seemed extremely unlike, so I wanted to do something rewarding and out of the ordinary.

With this in mind I investigated online and found Riad 9 Volunteering, a company that was set up by two students. R9V is a UK based company, running voluntary placements between June and September each summer in the vibrant and energetic capital of Morocco, Marrakech. This seemed the perfect way to spend my summer and at just £55 per week there was only one thing to do….book my flight (and get a few exams out the way).

As a blonde, pale and somewhat ditsy 20 year old I was a little apprehensive about going to an African country on my own, but looking back now all my worries seem trivial. Within seconds of arriving in the Riad, my home for the most part of July, I was greeted by the other students and before I even had time to unpack my suitcase we were heading to the main square for a traditional Moroccan meal, and a chance to explore the souks that lined the crazy streets of Marrakech.

During my time with R9V the projects I took part in included painting a children’s hospital and orphanage, feeding homeless mothers and their children, and breaking fast with locals during the cultural festival of Ramadan. Other projects that were on offer included teaching English to Moroccan children

(or at least attempting to) and restoring local schools and classrooms. Projects mainly ran during the week for around four hours, leaving us with as much time as we wanted to explore Marrakech and the rest of Morocco. It is safe to say that every day brought a new experience, and amazing experiences at that.

As well as taking part in projects I got the chance to visit the Ouzoud Falls, where a group of us travelled for the day to jump of the rocks, swim in the plunge pools and work on our (non-existent) tans. The volunteers were always heading off to do exciting things at the weekends, such as camel riding and quad biking across the Sahara, visiting the coastline resort of Agadir and (for those more adventurous amongst us) climb the highest Atlas Mountain in North Africa, Mount Toubkal.

R9V exceeded all of my expectations and having met such an amazing group of people I was extremely sad to be leaving Marrakech, a place I considered home for a short period of my life. However, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back there again next summer jumping off the Ouzoud Falls and brightening up another orphanage.

If anyone has any questions about my experience in Morocco or the company I travelled with then feel free to get in touch: FJH124@bham.ac.uk, or check out their website at http://www.riad9volunteering.com/#!about-us/cfzh

Frances Hurst

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