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Monday, 17 March 2014 12:00 AM

Travel Tips for your Holiday in Morocco – Giving Alms to the Needy (Beggars)

During your booking process with us our travel consultants are here to talk to cover any question about your holiday to make sure that you are happy.

We cover some Frequently Asked Questions in our website and we explore more common concerns in these articles on “Tips” – this article covers the issue of giving to the needy, which is supported by our article on Tipping and Money.

The local value of the Moroccan Dirham (MHD)

As noted in our previous travel Tips Article ( Tipping and Money ) the average wage in Morocco is around 3,000-4,000 MHD per month (£2.5k - £3.5k pa) or around £1 - £1.5 per hour; however, unskilled workers may be on around only 50 MHD per day (around £3.5 a day).

In that article we indicate the advantage of having some small denomination coins during your visit to Morocco, which are useful for paying for small items in café and for occasional small tips, but they are also useful if you decide to give to beggars.

The Needy in Morocco

Every country has its needy and Morocco is no different - most evident when you are on holiday in Morocco are street beggars that either wander the street or sit by the side of roads or alleys asking for alms. There are not huge numbers of them, they do not hassle people and they are not vocal, but they are needy.

I have been to Morocco many times and I have never felt awkward or under pressure from any beggar, the vast majority that I have seen are women (often with children) sitting by mosque entrances.  Divorced women in Morocco in particular can find it hard to make a living for them and their children, and the Islamic tradition of giving alms means that they tend to congregate near mosque entrances.

The decision to give or not to give to a beggar is a personal one. All visitors to Morocco and all beggars in Morocco are different and your assessment of the merit of such gifts is wholly subjective.

If you are inclined to give, 50 centimes or 1 MHD (less than 10p) may sound a small amount but can make a difference on a day to day basis for those in need – hence having a few coins handy may be useful for such a quick gift when passing by. For longer term aim, then local charities are the probably the most effective way of giving.

Charities Working in Morocco

Whilst giving to the needy certainly makes sure the money goes directly to those that guests want their money to go to, it has the problem that it only addresses the short term need, rather than trying to find a longer term fit for a social problem – which is what local charities in general aim to do, hence many guests prefer to provide financial support for a local charity of their choice.

Charities working in Morocco that Naturally Morocco support are:

Moroccan Childrens' Trust charity – works to support disadvantaged children in Taroudant, in Southern Morocco, aiming to provide brighter futures for street children and their families through education and economic empowerment.

Centre Fiers et Forts - a centre for street-children' in Tamesloth, a small town located in the Marrakech area, providing living accommodation, education and work for 30 street-children. On a daily basis, the Centre provides classes in mathematics in Arab and French as well as regular meals and support for children abandoned by their families.

Atlas Cooperative for the Environment - created to support the conservation of the endangered Saharan Yellow Bee and the wider environment. This includes training beekeepers, supplying beekeeping equipment, marketing and product development. To contribute contact - .

Help the Street Animals of Morocco - working to improve the lives of street animals in the Essaouira region of Morocco by the provision of veterinary care.

SPANA, the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad - providing veterinary centres in Morocco to treat maltreated animals free of charge and educate their owners on animal welfare.