Moroccan Children's Trust
1. Why did you decide to study French at uni?
Like many other language students, I chose to study French out of a love of the language and culture rather than with a specific career direction in mind. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to study a subject that I would enjoy for four years and would keep me interested, and luckily my French degree provided just that.
2. What did you do on your year abroad, and what have been its most notable benefits for you?
I spent my year abroad in Rennes, Brittany, where I studied at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (IEP Rennes). Rennes is a vibrant city with a strong regional identity and a huge student population. The IEP attracts international students from all over the world so is a great cultural melting pot. As well as vastly improving my French, studying there really brought the European aspect of my degree to life and I began to take more of an interest in international affairs, particularly in francophone countries.
3. What did you do after graduation?
By the time I graduated I had decided I wanted to work in international development but was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to put my French to good use. Luckily, this has turned out not to be the case. I was accepted onto the International Citizen Service scheme, a government funded volunteering programme for 18-25 year olds. I spent three months in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, volunteering with an organisation who work with women, children and vulnerable people affected by HIV/AIDs. It was an amazing experience and my French was invaluable in both the work place and in day-to-day relations.
4. What inspired you to do an internship at Moroccan Children's Trust?
Upon my return to the UK and having experienced life in a developing country, I decided I wanted to continue to use my French and to gain experience in the field of international development. I searched around for internship and volunteering opportunities in the UK and abroad, and came across the Moroccan Children’s Trust. I was thrilled to read about their work and so I applied for the position of Women’s Project Intern and haven’t looked back! Here's a photo from a trip I went on to celebrate International Day for Street Children 2013 with the kids we work with in Taroudannt:
5. Can you tell us a bit more about the Trust?
The Moroccan Children’s Trust (MCT) work with street-connected children and their families in a town called Taroudannt in southern Morocco. We work in partnership with a local NGO, Groupe Maroc Horizons, and work closely with the local community to achieve sustainable development for young people in difficulty, to help them to reach their potential.
In addition, MCT run a volunteering scheme, offering volunteers the chance to work in our community programmes around Taroudannt. Placements are tailored to the volunteer’s skills and experience, and range from helping children to improve their French or Arabic, to assisting in sports activities and art classes.
Here's a photo of me (third from left) with some MCT colleagues and a few of the girls who we work with in Taroudannt:
6. What characteristics do you look for in a volunteer?
We look for volunteers with a real commitment to the aims of our work; namely contributing to the socio-economic development of young people and their communities, building cross-cultural relations, and increasing cultural understanding. We also require volunteers to have a good understanding of French or Arabic in order to communicate effectively with the children and young people they will work with, as well as with Moroccan colleagues.
7. How will it benefit French- and Arabic-speakers?
Morocco is a hub of different languages and cultures with its own distinct character. French and Arabic speakers will have the opportunity to improve their written and spoken language skills, as well as to immerse themselves in the cultural and linguistic fusion of Moroccan life.
8. What will volunteers get out of it?
Volunteers are offered comprehensive pre-departure and in-country support, an induction course covering the basics of Modern Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic and French (depending on the levels of their language skills) as well as a varied programme of work placements. Most importantly, volunteers will gain valuable experience and personal development through working with at-risk children and young people in helping to improve their lives and future prospects. That would be some achievement for your year abroad!
9. What does the Trust get out of having Volunteers?
The Moroccan Children’s Trust can benefit from the varied skills and cultural backgrounds brought by our volunteers from all over the world. It is this cultural exchange which is so important to the innovation of our programme and also to the young people with whom we work.
10. What's included (flights and accommodation?) and how much will it cost?
As a not-for-profit organisation, we try to keep volunteer costs as low as possible. Prices include accommodation in our volunteer apartment, two traditional Moroccan meals per day, induction course and in-country support. A two month placement costs £1,207, three month placement £1,592, and a six month placement costs £2,747, however dates and duration are flexible. Volunteers need to cover the costs of their flight and medical insurance but we will help you to secure the best deal.
11. How can I get involved?
You can check out the volunteer page on our website or email [email protected] for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!