Volunteer Review: Sofia R., Nursing School Elective in Morocco
My best journey to Morocco for my pediatric nursing elective placement.
As part of my pediatric nursing elective placement, I went to Morocco. Not only did I do my nursing elective placement but did some traveling around Morocco with other volunteers which was so fascinating.
Finally the day arrived when I was heading off to Morocco for 1 month from the United Kingdom in November 2009. I was so excited but at the same time very nervous as I was traveling into a different country all by myself which I had never done on my own before.
When I arrived in Morocco, the Projects Abroad assistant Adil was waiting at the airport. I felt very welcomed by him, when we sat in the car Adil gave me the welcome pack. The driver was very bubbly but he only spoke Arabic so Adil was translating between him and me. When we reached Rabat, my host father, brother, sister and another volunteer were waiting for me at bab-noor gate. They all welcomed me and took me to their house, as it was 23:30pm at night I was very tired so I went to sleep.
The following morning I met the volunteer coordinator Asmaa, she was very welcoming and so happy to meet me. Asmaa and I went to the bus stop which was quite a distance walk from my host family so we could go to Cheikh Zaid Hospital where I would be doing my voluntary work. Asmaa explained to me that I had to get the number 11 bus which would take me to the hospital.
When we got to Cheikh Zaid hospital, I was introduced to a man called Abdelali who works at the hospital. He read through my CV which had been translated in French and I had my induction. Abdelai was my point of contact if I had any problems. Later on in the afternoon, Asmaa showed me how to get to the Projects Abroad office and gave me emergency contact details, other volunteers’ phone numbers and relevant information and showed me the necessary places around Rabat.
The next morning I got the number 11 bus to Cheikh Zaid hospital, it took me a long time to get there but I finally made it. When I walked into the Pediatric ward, I was shocked to find out that most nurses on the ward did not speak English, I thought to myself that was going to be a big communication problem for me. However, the Matron Saida spoke quite good English and she was going to be my mentor.
Over the 4 weeks of my placement I shadowed the pediatric nurses; the nursing was very different from the UK. I assisted nurses do bloods, insert cannulas, insert nastro-gastric tubes and drawing up intravenous antibiotics under supervision. All the children I saw were all so lovely and cute. As the gynecology and pediatric ward were in the same department I spent a half day in the gynecology ward, where I saw a birth, it was all very exciting but again different from UK.
Overall I enjoyed my placement and loved working with all the pediatric nurses as they were very welcoming. As a student nurse, you cannot do much especially if you are from the UK as you need to follow the Nursing and Midwifery council code of conduct which is a nursing governing body for nurses and midwives. My mentor was excellent and guided me all the way. All the pediatric nurses always asked me questions about nursing in the UK and told me how nursing was in Morocco. Being on the ward from 9am till 4pm Monday to Friday I never saw a Pediatric doctor on the ward all the time, where in the UK there will be at least 1 pediatric doctor on the ward all the time.
Meeting my host family was the best thing that had ever happened in my life. In the family there was Aisha, the host sister, Mama, Baba and the granddaughter Abir. I loved my host family; they were the most amazing family I had seen in my life. The host father told his friend and families that I was his own daughter; the whole family reassured my mum and dad in the UK that Sofia was in safe hands.
On my first weekend in Morocco there was Muslim festival Eid al Adha where we slaughtered a sheep. The whole family got together and we all had a big feast. Later on in the evening a few of us volunteers went out around Rabat with my host family. I felt this was the best Eid I have celebrated as Eid in the UK can be boring.
The other great thing about going to Morocco and volunteering was that you are able to do some traveling. On the second weekend I went traveling with other volunteers to Marrakesh on a train. The Moroccan trains were very nice and comfortable. I enjoyed my ride to Marrakesh on the train. Marrakesh was full of people and tourists, there was a film festival going on which made Marrakesh look more beautiful. The night life was amazing.
Chefchouan was my 3rd week trip, beautiful mountains; wherever you went you could see blue and all kinds of cats. Before departing from Morocco I went to Casablanca with a few other volunteers to the 3rd largest mosque in the world Hassan 2. It was so beautiful; I performed Salah which is a Muslim prayer.
Leaving Morocco was the hardest thing for me; I made a lot of family and friends whilst I was out there. Overall I found Morocco the most amazing country I had ever visited so far. Most people in Morocco were friendly and willing to help and were very welcoming.
My placement was an excellent experience and I learnt a few words in Arabic, my favorite phase was ‘Machi muchkil’ which means ‘no problem’ as I thought Morocco was no problem for me at all. I built a very good relationship with the Projects Abroad team in Morocco. They were available anytime you needed them and I always felt they were part of my family, they were always happy to see me.
My host mother broke down in tears when I left Morocco. I am still in contact with my host family and hope to go back to Morocco again. I believe Morocco is a country where you would want to keep going back to.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.