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Volunteer Programs in North Africa and the Middle East

Nick Callos
By Nick Callos
Writer
Volunteer in North Africa and the Middle East

Drink mint tea in Tangier, explore the Egyptian pyramids, and ascend the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. From the shores of the Mediterranean to the streets of Tehran, North Africa and the Middle East stimulates the senses and calls you to explore deeper.

It’s not surprising that North Africa and the Middle East welcome so many travelers. Each year, nearly 90 million tourists visit the region, according to World Bank data.

If you want to volunteer abroad in North Africa and the Middle East, you’re not alone. Lots of volunteer travelers have this region on their bucket list.

Whether you want to volunteer in Israel for wildlife or volunteer in Morocco as an English teacher, you have lots of choices. In this article, you’ll learn where you can volunteer and what you can do. We’ll also highlight reputable organizations that offer volunteer programs in North Africa and the Middle East.

Where can I Volunteer in North Africa and the Middle East?

First, let’s define the region. North Africa and the Middle East (MENA) are grouped as an economic region by global institutions like the International Monetary Fund.

No official map exists. ‘North Africa and the Middle East’ is a loose term, but most often includes Arab countries from Morocco east to the Persian Gulf, plus Israel and Iran.

Here’s a map of North Africa and the Middle East from Stanford University:

North Africa & the Middle East region map

The region has a central place in history. Early human civilizations began to form in Mesopotamia around 12000 BCE (present-day Iraq), which is why Mesopotamia is called the ‘Cradle of Civilization’. From 3100-332 BCE, Egypt reigned as the preeminent civilization. Throughout the millennia, North Africa and the Middle East have connected people, cultures, goods, and ideas across AfricaEurope, and Asia.

Today, North Africa and the Middle East have a vital role in the world. With an incredible blend of history, religions, languages, cultures, economies, cities, and landscapes, you can truly have the trip of a lifetime here. Venture through the deserts of Oman, shop in Doha, learn about Islam, and more.

Countries and areas where you can volunteer in North Africa include:

A few maps of North Africa include countries in the Horn of Africa (Northeast Africa). If you’re interested, volunteer abroad there. Countries and areas where you can volunteer in the Middle East include:

What can I do as a Volunteer in North Africa and the Middle East?

Whether you’re a retiree hoping to travel and do good, or a college student looking for a more meaningful spring break, you can find suitable volunteer programs in North Africa and the Middle East. Choose a project in one of the following areas:

Wildlife, marine, and environmental conservation

As the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) notes, a good portion of North Africa and the Middle East is located within the Mediterranean Basin—one of the world’s major centers of biodiversity. If you want to volunteer in the Middle East or North Africa for environmental conservation, you’ll discover lots of programs. For instance, you could sign up with GoEco, a leader in ecotourism, and volunteer in Israel on a coral reef conservation project.

Women’s Empowerment

Many countries in the region have made great progress, but more work remains to combat gender inequality, poverty, domestic violence, a lack of access to education, and other issues. And you can help! For example, if you want to volunteer in the Middle East or North Africa for women’s empowerment, you’ll find lots of great opportunities in Morocco, as the country has been investing in programs to empower girls and women.

Education and Childcare

Income inequality, poverty, and other issues make it difficult for disadvantaged communities across the region to receive a quality education. Help turn the tides by volunteering in childcare, ESL teaching, and other areas.

Healthcare

From a medical internship in the West Bank to medical volunteering for refugees, you can do a lot of good as a healthcare volunteer in the Middle East or North Africa.

Refugee Support

Want to volunteer for refugees? In North Africa and the Middle East, you can offer volunteer for refugees in places like Turkey, Jordan, and the West Bank.

Community Development

Uplift marginalized communities in a variety of ways. For example, you could help operate safe places for at-risk youth in Tel Aviv, Israel. You could also build houses, promote human rights, work at after-school centers, and more.

Internships

Instead of volunteering in the Middle East or North Africa, you could do an internship. This would enable you to make an impact and develop professional skills. From a midwifery internship in Morocco to a hospitality internship in Jerusalem, you have options across lots of industries.

Featured Organizations and Programs

Now that you know how you can volunteer in North Africa and the Middle East, let’s look at specific projects.

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Volunteer Programs in North Africa and the Middle East - IVHQ

Founded in 2007, International Volunteer HQ has placed more than 107,000 volunteers on projects around the world, including volunteer programs in North Africa and the Middle East. They’ve earned a lot of praise for their impactful experiences, as well as their excellent volunteer support. Institutions and organizations such as Microsoft and the University of Michigan have all volunteered with IVHQ.

Simply put, you can’t go wrong with choosing IVHQ if you want to volunteer in the Middle East or North Africa. They have plenty of affordable volunteer opportunities in the region.

Volunteer in Morocco (Childcare, Women’s Education, and More)

Price: $245 for 1 week; $835 for 4 weeks

Length: 1-24 weeks (price per week goes down the longer you stay)

If you want to volunteer in Morocco, IVHQ has six projects worth considering, including a Ramadan experience. For instance, you could volunteer on the childcare project and help children from disadvantaged neighborhoods develop cognitive skills, practice arts and crafts, learn English, and more. You could also:

  • Volunteer for Women’s Education in Morocco: Many women in Morocco suffer from illiteracy and unemployment, creating a cycle of poverty. As a volunteer for women’s education, you’ll work to improve literacy by teaching English or French and running vocation skills workshops, such as sewing and computer training, to improve employability.
  • Teach English or French in Morocco: To promote professional development, the Moroccan government has implemented language-learning initiatives. As a French or English teacher in Morocco, you’ll help underprivileged young Moroccans learn a second language and acquire a crucial skill to succeed in the job market.

Past volunteers have great things to say about volunteering in Morocco with IVHQ, like Melissa:

“I have way too many favorite moments from my volunteering experience in Morocco to put into words. I made connections with people that will last a lifetime.”

Programs include airport pickup, orientation, meals, accommodation, and 24/7 support. Programs are held in Rabat, the beautiful oceanside capital, as well as Salé and Casablanca, a bustling port city with magnificent architecture. During free time, explore these great cities.

Interested? Sign up to volunteer in Morocco with IVHQ!

Volunteer in Jordan (Youth Support, Special Needs Support, and More)

Price: $530 for 1 week; $1,250 for 4 weeks

Length: 1-12 weeks (price per week goes down the longer you stay)

Want to volunteer in Jordan? Then look at one of IVHQ’s numerous projects there. You could volunteer for women’s education in Jordan, and give girls and young women the tools they need to improve their future prospects. You may teach English and other subjects to underprivileged young adults hoping to obtain their high school certificate. Or, you could volunteer for youth support at an afterschool center.

Other great volunteer options include:

  • Special Needs Volunteering in Jordan: Social stigma has led to a lack of support, and many families struggle to properly care for special needs children. As a volunteer in special needs care, you’ll enrich the lives of people living with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other diseases. Run educational lessons, make art, play games, and more.
  • Volunteer for Refugees on an Arts and Music Project: This program has a powerful purpose! As a volunteer for refugees and marginalized communities in Jordan, you’ll use the power of art and music to promote confidence, communication, creativity, and problem-solving skills. And you can inspire youth to make positive changes locally and globally.

Programs include airport pickup, orientation, local homestay, and 24/7 support. Immerse yourself in the culture and experience the capital city of Amman during non-volunteer hours. Climb Mount Nebo, see the ruins of Amman Citadel, and more.

Intrigued? Apply to volunteer in Jordan with IVHQ!

Plan My Gap Year (PMGY)

Volunteer Programs in North Africa and the Middle East - Plan My Gap Year

An award-winning volunteer travel organization, Plan My Gap Year offers life-changing service experiences across 17 countries, including in North Africa. Established in 2011, PMGY sends more than 4,000 volunteers abroad each year. Founded by volunteers for volunteers, PMGY provides airport pickup, meals and accommodation (with WiFi), and 24-hour in-country support so you can have a hassle-free experience and focus on what matters: volunteering and making a difference.

If you want to volunteer in Morocco, Plan My Gap Year has two great programs. Read below!

Childcare Volunteering in Morocco

Price: $474 for 1 week; $1,119 for 4 weeks

Length: 1-12 weeks (price per week goes down the longer you stay)

Journey to the city of Rabat, where you’ll provide support at daycares that serve disadvantaged children. Many of the youngsters come from poor families where both parents have to work a lot. Others are born out of wedlock, and the mothers deal with social stigmatization and even rejection by their family. As a childcare volunteer in Morocco, you can help these children get the mental and physical stimulation and emotional support they deserve. And you can put them in a better position to succeed in school and life.

When you’re not volunteering in childcare, see what Rabat, Morocco’s capital, offers. Tour Chellah, a medieval fortified city, visit Hassan Tower, and more.

Already packing your bags? Register to volunteer with children in Morocco with PMGY!

English Teaching in Morocco

Price: $474 for one week; $1,119 for 4 weeks

Length: 1-12 weeks (price per week goes down the longer you stay)

Give Moroccan youth a skill they can use to open economic doors. As Morocco’s economy shifts from agriculture to service-related industries, language skills have become increasingly important. Unfortunately, government spending declines have impacted opportunities for the lower class to learn English, as the country has a shortage of English teachers. When you volunteer to teach English in Morocco, you’ll give children and teens who need it most the chance to learn English from a native speaker.

Also held in Rabat, you’ll spend your days teaching English through natural conversation, role-play, games, and other activities. You’ll have a blast and see your impact as the kids progress. And when you’re not teaching, you can check out attractions in Rabat like the serene Andalusian Gardens and the exquisite El Mechouar Palace.

Ready to go? Reserve your spot to teach English in Morocco with PMGY!

Love Volunteers

Volunteer Programs in North Africa and the Middle East - Love Volunteers

Established in 2009, Love Volunteers is strongly committed to affordability, transparency, and making a meaningful difference for local communities in need. Love Volunteers earns a 96% rating from past volunteers -a testament to the quality of their programs. They also earned recognition as a Best Volunteer Abroad Program in 2017 from Volunteer Forever.

If you want to volunteer in the Middle East or North Africa, few organizations have the breadth of projects that Love Volunteers does. You can volunteer in Morocco, Turkey, and the West Bank. From childcare volunteering in Morocco to volunteer teaching in the West Bank, Love Volunteers has a variety of ways you can do good.

Community Development Volunteering in the West Bank

Price: $250 for 2 weeks; $550 for 8 weeks

Length: 2-12 weeks

This project is held in Nablus, a city in the northern West Bank. As a volunteer in Palestine, you’ll enable valuable intercultural exchange as you work with children and families in a refugee camp. These families have been negatively affected by occupation, and deal with poverty and inadequate access to education. You can help create a sense of belonging and hope for marginalized people. Community development duties include hosting computer skills workshops, doing arts and crafts with children, gardening, teaching about human rights, and more.

You get to stay in a historic home in Nablus with other volunteers, which is a fun experience. More importantly, volunteering in Palestine will challenge your perspectives and broaden your horizons. As you help local communities grow and improve, you’ll grow and improve too.

Sound like the trip for you? Click here to volunteer in the West Bank!

Volunteer for Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Price: $529 for 1 week; $1,119 for 3 weeks

Length: 1-3 weeks

Volunteer on a Syrian refugee support initiative in Istanbul. Since 2011, millions of Syrian refugees have come to Turkey to escape violence in their homeland. Many fled with nothing, and require assistance with getting basic necessities. As a volunteer for refugees in Istanbul, you’ll empower Syrian refugee children through education. You’ll work in a school they attend alongside Turkish children, helping teachers manage the increased number of students and providing much-needed educational assistance to the Syrian children. And you’ll help give them the skills and confidence to build a better tomorrow.

If you want to volunteer for refugees, this program will challenge you and is a wonderful opportunity to improve lives. You also can explore Istanbul during free time. See the Blue Mosque, walk through the Grand Bazaar, and more. Throughout the program, Love Volunteers provides great support by arranging airport pickup, accommodation, meals, and more.

Ready to volunteer for refugees in Turkey? Sign up here!

Agricultural Development in Turkey

Price: $529 for 1 week; $1,119 for 3 weeks

Length: 1-3 weeks

Want to volunteer in Turkey on a farm? Many rural families in Turkey have to split up, as people migrate to Istanbul for work. This not only affects traditional villages, but also decreases food production for the whole country. As an agricultural volunteer in Turkey, you’ll work to increase food production and help keep rural families and villages intact. You’ll grow crops, teach new farming methods, carry out animal husbandry duties, and more.

Love Volunteers provides airport pickup, orientation, accommodation, meals, in-country support, and more. This project is hard but rewarding work. And you’ll make lasting connections as you immerse yourself in rural Turkish culture.

Ready to volunteer on a farm in Turkey? Register here!

GoEco

Volunteer Programs in North Africa and the Middle East - GoEco

Rated the 2018 Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by GoAbroad, GoEco features more than 160 affordable, ethical projects around the globe. Founded in 2006, the team regularly inspects all their programs to ensure high safety and quality standards. Thanks to their great work, GoEco has earned recognition in publications such as The Guardian and The Boston Globe.

When it comes to volunteer programs in North Africa and the Middle East, know GoEco has lots of volunteer projects in Israel, including community, wildlife, and environmental initiatives. After all, GoEco began at a sea turtle rescue center in Israel.

Desert Wildlife Volunteering in Israel

Price: $650 for 2 weeks; $1,130 for 6 weeks

Length: 2-10 weeks

Want to volunteer in Israel to help wildlife? Then join this wildlife conservation program. Travel to the spectacular desert of Arava, where you’ll protect endangered native species and repopulate the nature reserve. You’ll work with leopards, tiny tortoises, oryxes, and other desert animals. Duties include food preparation, maintaining reserve facilities, and assisting park rangers on patrols.

For this wildlife volunteering program in Israel, you’ll stay in a residence on the reserve grounds. And you’ll be surrounded by the beauty and serenity of the Arava Valley and desert.

Sound exciting? Apply on GoEco’s site!

Volunteer in Israel to Feed Hungry Families

Price: $720 for 1 week; $1,340 for 3 weeks

Length: 1-3 weeks

Called the Food Baskets for Families project, this initiative ensures more than 3,000 baskets go to families in need each week. The organization partners with the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture to ensure food reaches as many impoverished families and displaced people as possible. By joining the project, you can combat food insecurity and give children and adults in need more stability. Duties include sorting food, packing baskets, and handing them out to families (which is a wonderful experience).

You can volunteer in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, and you’ll have free time to see the cities. GoEco arranges accommodation at a hostel and provides walking tours of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

Ready to have a blast and feed hungry families? Apply with GoEco today!

Frontier

Volunteer Programs in North Africa and the Middle East - Frontier

Established in 1989, Frontier has sent more than 103,000 volunteers abroad. From their first program in Tanzania, a marine park developed in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (still in operation), Frontier has aspired to build sustainable livelihoods and safeguard biodiversity.

Specializing in gap year adventures and volunteer experiences, Frontier has initiatives throughout the world. Whether you want to volunteer in North Africa or volunteer in the Middle East, they’re an excellent choice.

Morocco Teaching and Trekking

Price: $2,045 for 4 weeks

Length: 4+ weeks

Want to travel and volunteer in Morocco? This project takes you to the Atlas Mountains, where you’ll meet the Berber people, an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa. Your journey begins with a trek through the magnificent Atlas Mountains, led by expert Berber guides. Following that, you’ll take part in a meaningful development project in a Berber village. Your main duty will be to teach English.

When you join this trekking and volunteer program in Morocco, you’ll experience life within an indigenous community that’s existed for millennia. Your time with the Berbers will broaden your horizons!

Ready to go off-the-beaten-path? Register to volunteer with the Berbers today!

Eco-Construction Volunteering in Israel

Price: $745 for 2 weeks; $1,295 for 4 weeks

Length: 2-4+ weeks

Like getting your hands dirty? Want to volunteer in Israel? If you said yes to both, join this program. As an eco-construction volunteer, you’ll live and work in the stunning Arava Desert. There, you’ll build an eco-village using mud, earth, and straw. The village hosts many international travelers and promotes sustainable living to all those who visit. As a volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy simplistic living at the village.

What’s also great about this program is that it begins with a tour of Jerusalem. This includes visits to historical sites like the Old City and vibrant marketplaces like Mahane Yehuda.

Ready to get in touch with the earth? Apply to this eco-construction project today!

Volunteer in North Africa and the Middle East Today!

As you can see, you have great ways to volunteer in North Africa and the Middle East. Choose a program according to your budget, preferences, skills, and interests, and then apply! Before you know it, you’ll be packing your bags for the volunteer abroad trip of a lifetime.

To help you plan your trip (and reduce costs), take advantage of all of Volunteer Forever’s resources:

Abroadly – A platform where you can quickly search for volunteer opportunities in North Africa and the Middle East

Volunteer Abroad for Free – A guide that shows you how to reduce costs

Volunteer Abroad Scholarships and Grants – A comprehensive list for volunteer abroad travelers