TORONTO – May 24, 2017 – Projects Abroad volunteers travelling to Morocco and Senegal during the month of Ramadan have the unique opportunity to broaden their cultural horizons. Ramadan takes place from May 26th to June 24th this year. By visiting either of these two Projects Abroad destinations, volunteers can share in the celebration of diversity and cultural exchange that the company facilitates across the globe.
During Ramadan, practicing Muslims fast every day from sunrise to sunset. Every evening the fast gets broken, often traditionally by eating a date first, and then families and friends share each other's company over specially prepared meals. City nights turn vibrant, abuzz with open coffee shops, restaurants, and locals out and about roaming the streets. In Morocco, special food dishes like harira – a type of soup – and unique pastries like chebakia, are only prepared during Ramadan, and are a daily treat for all.
Ramadan is an important and often sacred event in the calendar for Muslims, but this does not deter locals from welcoming outsiders into their communities. "In Morocco we appreciate it when visitors want to learn about and explore our culture," says Soufiane Mbarki, Project Abroad staff member in Morocco. "You don't have to participate in fasting if you do not want to, and if you do try, locals will encourage you and help you learn."
Volunteer work cycles are minimally influenced by Ramadan, and project tasks will continue as per usual. It is up to the volunteer to determine their level of engagement. There are no expectations of volunteer engagement, other than being respectful of those who are fasting, eating their own meals with this in mind.
Projects Abroad offers a number of programs in Morocco and Senegal that provide volunteers with opportunities to contribute to meaningful projects through service work, benefitting communities in need. For example, volunteers can assist with early childhood development at care centres and local schools, teach English to all ages, or gain practical experience in a prospective career such as Medicine and Healthcare, Law & Human Rights, or International Development. Families or friends can tackle a project together on a Group Trip to build houses and school classrooms in Senegal. There are even projects that facilitate full immersion into a unique and rare cultural setting, such as the Nomad Project in Morocco.
For the ultimate cultural experience, it can be organized that a volunteer is placed during and after Ramadan, to witness the celebration of the final breaking of the fast, as well as the transition back to normality.