Gap Year Programs in Morocco
Located in north-western Africa, the Kingdom of Morocco is a diverse country. The shifting sands of the Sahara desert rise up to the snow-capped mountains of the Atlas Mountains where thriving Berber communities still live as they have done for centuries.
Morocco is mesmerizing, magical and mysterious.Explore the narrow alleyways of the souks of Fes and marvel at the colorful spices displayed in pyramids. Sip a cup of mint tea as you watch the snake charmers and story tellers in Africa’s biggest square in Marrakech.
There are numerous NGOs operating in Morocco, particularly in the capital Rabat. Volunteer programs include education, social welfare, women’s empowerment, and health care.
The official language of Morocco is Arabic, although Berber is also widely spoken. Business tends to be conducted in French. Literacy rates are low, particularly in the rural villages and the teaching of English can improve the local’s chance of getting employment.
There is a particular demand for educating girls to give them a fair chance in life, however, due to cultural differences; these positions are available to women only.
Unfortunately, there are large numbers of street children living in Morocco and as a result, there are many orphanages requiring help. Volunteers at orphanages can improve the quality of the child’s life by providing social skills, recreational activities, and companionship.
Planning Your Trip
So you’ve made your mind up on Morocco, what can you expect when you get there?
Cost of Living
Morocco is a relatively cheap destination to live in. Do as the locals do and buy from the local souks and markets and always haggle, it’s expected.
Culture and Etiquette
Morocco is an Islamic country. To avoid unnecessary attention, women should dress modestly. Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Morocco.
During the month of Ramadan * Muslims abstain from drinking, food, and smoking between dawn and dusk. Non-Muslims should respect those who are fasting and disrespect for the local culture can lead to being arrested. Restaurant hours may be reduced during Ramadan. The end of the fast is celebrated with Eid-ul-Fitr, a three-day celebration when families get together.
* Dates for Ramadan change each year. In 2014 Ramadan starts on 28th June and ends on 27th July.
Health and Safety
Whilst there are no compulsory vaccinations required to enter Morocco, it is worth visiting your medical practitioner to ensure your inoculations are up to date. If you are planning to visit or work in rural areas or with animals it would be advisable to get a rabies vaccination.
Henna tattoos are very popular in Morocco but can lead to allergic reactions for some.
Many demonstrations in Morocco are peaceful but it would be advisable to stay away from political demonstrations.
Be aware of pickpocketing, particularly in crowded markets and souks.