The Special Needs Program
Volunteers on this program provide much-needed support and assistance to children and young adults at various childcare facilities for children with mental and physical disabilities in Rabat. Government and community support for children with disabilities in Morocco can be seriously lacking. As a result, most children with disabilities are destined for a life of poverty. This also puts incredible stress on the children's families. These projects are severely understaffed and underfunded, which is why they are in urgent need of volunteers. The children are always happy to see international volunteers and are very welcoming to participants on this program in Morocco. Volunteers are truly needed and appreciated at this project. For volunteers who truly want to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children, this program serves to protect and care for those who need it most.
Goals of this Project:
- Provide essential childcare to vulnerable children of Rabat, Morocco
- Improve the future prospects of disabled children in Morocco
- Give impoverished children quality care, compassion and a sense of hope
- Enable inter-cultural exchange which benefits both locals and international volunteers alike.
How You Can Help
This program’s aim is to simply help make the lives of disabled children happier and healthier. Volunteers play an instrumental role to achieving this. By giving their time, volunteers are showing love and compassion for children who society has largely forgotten. Volunteers will gain wonderful hands-on experience caring and educating children with special needs, which promises to be a hugely rewarding experience. There is always a high demand for volunteers on these projects, where duties mainly involve teaching the children English, organizing and helping out with extra-curricular activities, as well as simply playing games with the children. The children require a lot of care, attention and most importantly, companionship.
Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways on this program and can expect to undertake the following tasks:
- Help to teach vulnerable children in Morocco
- Attend to and interact with disabled children
- Create activities and entertain the children with games and songs, etc
See the Additional Info. section for more information on how to support disabled children.
Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over who wish to assist in the support and development of some of Morocco's most marginalized children and young adults. While this highly rewarding project does not require participants to have a background in the field of special needs care, as there are many ways you can assist, volunteers with suitable education, qualifications or experience are highly sought after. Regardless, a volunteer’s individual role can often be tailored to suit their particular skills and interests. Ideally, volunteers on this project will have at least a basic knowledge of the local language in order to communicate effectively with staff and students, though this is not a pre-requisite. All volunteers must have proof of their Covid vaccination. All applicants must of course display a genuine willingness to help, show drive, initiative and compassion, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!
Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:
- Emergency contact
- Police check
Rabat is a modern city with wide boulevards, gardens and light, white buildings, for the most part a far cry from the hectic warrens of the other Imperial cities of Marrakech and Fez, but no less steeped in history with its origins going back to the 7th century. The King of Morocco lives here in his palace amid trees and flowers..Ohh! Being an administrative capital, the city is somewhat conservative and serious, but there is some local color to be found in the old part of the city, the Medina, and the Kasbah, where there is a more relaxed atmosphere. Recreational opportunities abound too and a few lovely beaches at hand.
With the city center of Rabat being very compact, all the points of interest are in walking distance. Local Bus services can be very useful and they are marked very clearly. Petit and Grands taxis can be found at the airport, the train station and at Boulevard Hassan.
Rabat Ville’s main train station is right in the middle of the Ville Nouvelle, just a few minutes’ walk to most of the hotels, so it is best to arrive in Rabat by train. There is even a bureau de change and a car rental office on the station platform. The main bus terminal is situated in Place Zerktouni - three kilometers west of the center by the road intersection for Casablanca and Beni Mellal Grand taxis from Casablanca and Fez will drop you off at the main bus station. Rabat’s airport is seven kilometers km north of Rabat and although grand taxis are the only public transport operating from here, it isn’t difficult to catch one. Rabat is a seriously cool place to volunteer!
Start Dates & Duration
This project is available year-round and programs start every SATURDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.
Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.
For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.
Arrival & Orientation
Upon arrival into Rabat-Sale airport volunteers will be collected by a representative of the local project team and transported to the volunteer house accommodation where they will join a full orientation session where a representative from the local team will fill you in on local and regional customs, traveling, rules and recommendations, and of course, what to expect from your volunteering experience in Morocco. This is a great opportunity to get to know your hosts, meet your fellow volunteers, and ask any last questions you may have.
- Program Arrival Day: SATURDAY
- Program Departure Day: SATURDAY
- Arrival/Departure Airport: Rabat-Sale International Airport, Sale, Morocco (CODE: RBA)
While it is best to fly directly into Rabat, many volunteers choose to arrive at Mohamed V Airport in Casablanca. An airport pickup is not included from this location, but a train runs directly from the airport every half hour and takes 1h 50 minutes to Rabat Ville Train Station, our local team will collect you from here. Train tickets from Casablanca to Rabat cost about US$10.
Accommodation & Meals
Volunteers on this program are accommodated within a large and spacious volunteer guest house, located in a safe and convenient suburb of Rabat within walking distance to all the main attractions of this fascinating city. Volunteers are provided with a comfortable shared bedroom separated by gender and a shared bathroom including showers with hot water. Linen is provided and Wifi is available onsite, though service may not be as reliable as most are accustomed to at home. As with most parts of Africa, laundry facilities are basic and most volunteers simply use the services of a local laundromat.
While the accommodation is basic by western standards, this is part of the challenge and experience of volunteering in a developing country. With a little patience, and a flexible attitude, you will quickly get used to your new surroundings. The volunteer house is well managed and is a perfect home away from home. A wonderful base for your stay in Morocco!
Volunteers are provided 2-3 meals per day at the volunteer house and depending on where they are working, lunch may need to be bought at a small cafe during the day. The meals provided are mostly vegetarian, local dishes. Conveniently, there is also a fridge and basic cooking facilities if volunteers would occasionally like to prepare their own meals. Easy!
*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.
Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).
Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.
Volunteering With Children With Disabilities: How To Best Support Them
Between 93 million and 150 million children worldwide are diagnosed with a disability. In developing countries, children with disabilities rarely have access to the resources and facilities they need to help them reach their full potential. By volunteering to help children with disabilities, you can provide them with the best support possible and encourage them to blossom in their own time.
Communicate directly with the child
When you first meet a child with a disability, avoid making the all-too common mistake of not actually directly talking to them. Children with disabilities should be given encouragement and patience to answer questions and speak up in conversation. Adults often assume they don't understand or can't answer and soon switch to talking to their caregiver instead. So, when meeting for the first time, introduce yourself and explain who you are. Depending on the type of learning difficulty and its severity, you may need to place your hand on the child's shoulder or take their hand. You can then let them know what you'll be doing together, including explaining the activity step-by-step. It's important to use simple language, be patient, and make a lot of eye contact to build rapport and trust with the child.
Use nonverbal gestures
Using nonverbal communication and gestures like nodding, pointing, and eye contact will help children with disabilities understand you better. At first, you may need to exaggerate or draw out these gestures to aid the child's understanding. In fact, using these gestures is usually essential to ensure children with disabilities participate in the activities. However, if you still have a problem with a child not listening to you, you may also find it useful to clap, whistle, or sing. Additionally, tactile cues can help effectively engage children. For example, giving them a soft blanket or plasticine can capture their attention and help them focus.
When rules are implemented for the group, it's important all children abide by them. Consistency is key if you want children to feel safe, comfortable, and encouraged, as well as for teaching discipline. So, don't backtrack on rules already set or change them from one day to the next. For children with disabilities (especially those with autism or other cognitive or sensory impairments), consistency and discipline will help them thrive in learning environments. Remember, when working with children with disabilities, it's your job to give them dedicated attention they may not usually get. Focus on the individual and adjust your approach as needed. For example, if a child has poor motor skills making a certain activity difficult for them, you may need to work through the steps with them together. While it's good to encourage children to challenge themselves, you should also be aware of their limits.
Volunteering to help children with disabilities is a meaningful and rewarding experience. By being prepared to provide the best support possible, you can better help this vulnerable group succeed and thrive.
Source: Jennifer Orson