With the help of Eleanor Peel Trust fund we were able to visit Marrakech, Morocco to volunteer with the organisation Open Hands, this enabled us to contribute to many different projects and visit a variety of different people from very disadvantaged backgrounds.
As we arrived at the airport we were greeted by a lovely man called Adel, he spoke quite good English and took us to the taxi which would take us to where we were staying.
The taxi took us through the touristy New Town of Marrakech, where people were still walking in and out of designer shops, however, when we reached the Old Town, it was a complete contrast; there were many people sat on the street begging, including children, as well as many different stalls still being open with people desperate to sell their goods, which mainly consisted of fruit, vegetables and bread. The Old Town felt like we were in a entirely different country to where we had previously driven through, we all felt that it was very strange that within such a short distance people could live completely differently.
We managed to take part in a variety of different projects, the main thing that we saw from project to project was the smiles of the children’s faces when they realised that we had travelled to visit and work with themselves. We all thought that the projects would be quite a sad experience, however, we soon realised that the children did not wallow on their situation, but more embraced it, making friends and enjoying life.
This was an orphanage which was attached to a hospital. Although it was a baby orphanage, the oldest child which lived there was 14, this was because the child was disabled and the orphanage did not have enough money to send the girl to a Special Needs centre. During our visits to the orphanage we spent time playing with the children as well as nursing them.
Feeding the homeless made us all realise how lucky we are to be able to afford basic food. Each week we all put money into buying food to feed the homeless. We managed to feed over sixty people with around £20. A freshly baked loaf of bread is approximately 8p, which we believe shows how poor these people are, as they are unable to afford this for themselves. We prepared the food and then took it down to a local book stall where the man who owned the shop helped us hand out the food, cues would begin to form and often arguments occurred if people were pushing in. After the food had been handed out, we would walk through the square where the people were sat and we were thanked continuously, these people really did appreciate everything we had done for them.
We managed to visit lots of schools, nurseries and places which local people had set up for children who’s families could not afford to send their children to school. There we took lots of resources for arts and crafts, which the children loved.
We also took the children outside and played outdoor games with them.
We were shocked that some of the schools outdoor areas were derelict, covered in stones and broken glass, however, this was the children’s way of life so we had to make the time we had with them as enjoyable as possible. The children loved skipping and football, even with the language barrier we were able to teach them how to play snakes and ladders as well as rounders.
Although we were only in Marrakech for three weeks, we believe that we managed to help a great deal of people, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience and without the help of Eleanor Peel Trust we probably would not have been able to do it, so thank you! We don’t think it will be long until we go back to Marrakech!