Lynnette Swanson visited Taroudannt on a whim last summer during a South Morocco tour. During a chance meeting at Centre Amane arranged through a local contact at her guesthouse in Taroudannt, Lynnette made the decision to return in winter to volunteer for at least 6 months. She had actually been on her way out of town to visit a children’s charity in Marrakesh to confirm a volunteering option with them!
During more a meeting of fate than by chance, the MCT team discovered Lynnette’s motivation for long-term volunteering and her varied professional experience from 25 years in social work in England. Lynnette’s education and career in social work include heavy focus on child protection, direct therapeutic work with children of all ages, and family placement and post placement support in adoption projects. Both MCT and Lynnette agreed that her skills could greatly benefit the social work team at Centre Amane and ongoing research and development of a fostering project in the region.
Since Lynnette arrived at the end of January, she has been involved in exactly that, beginning with attending (on her 3rd day) the first regional meeting between MCT/FAPE, Anir and SOS Village in Agadir to discuss plans for a regional fostering project. Over the last 6 weeks, she has spent time working directly with the children, mothers, teachers and social workers across all the services at Centre Amane. Lynnette has worked hard to understand the Moroccan context in social work and child protection and she ran her first training session this week with the teachers and social workers. She will continue delivering a training programme bi-weekly in mid-April after collecting more professional and educational resources from her archive and colleagues in England, including topics of positive reinforcement, working as a team, sharing information and confidentiality.
But it’s not just the team at Centre Amane who have been learning â€“ Lynnette has been taking Moroccan Arabic and French classes twice each week as well as a Moroccan culture class to help her learn more about her new community. She’s also participating in our volunteer programme’s buddy system, meeting with a local volunteer once a week to learn more about daily Moroccan life and build a social network.
Both teams in London and Taroudannt are looking forward to working alongside Lynnette on structuring Centre Amane’s core social services and MCT’s larger child protection aims. Lynnette has settled in so well that she is seriously considering returning to Taroudannt for another 3-6 months after this summer â€“ we truly hope that we can hold onto her!
When I visited the Centre Amane last year I remember being very impressed by the work that was being carried out. Sarahâ€™s [MCT’s In-Country Coordinator] enthusiasm for the centre was infectious and it was part of my decision to return as a volunteer. During the last 6 weeks I have had the opportunity to work alongside most of the staff and volunteers; they have given me such a warm welcome that I already feel part of the team. I have developed a better understanding of the different projects that have been established or that are in the process of being developed and I have been â€˜blown awayâ€™ by the innovative and holistic work that is being carried out with the children, their families and the community. I am thoroughly enjoying my work and it is so rewarding that my colleagues feel I am making a positive contribution.
Morocco certainly has its challenges especially trying to communicate in my pigeon French and Moroccan Arabic and getting used to â€œMoroccan timeâ€; I am learning to be a little bit more â€œlaissez faireâ€™ about time-keeping, which is a challenge for someone who is usually very punctual!
I am really enjoying learning about Moroccan culture and the daily lives of people in Taroudannt. All my experiences within the community have been so positive; Moroccan people are really warm and friendly and getting about my business can take some time as greetings are an important way of life.
Life is good in Morocco and, if family commitments and good health allow, I would love to continue my volunteer work with this amazing project for as long as I can.