Volunteer with Children in Senegal
- Placement locations: St Louis
- Types of care projects: Day care centers (Talibé center), kindergartens
- Age of children: 3 - 18
- Number of people cared for: 20 – 45 (100+ in Talibé centers)
- Role: Assisting local staff by playing with children, organizing games and teaching songs, teaching basic French, math, and English, helping with healthcare, and giving general help
- Requirements: None
- Accommodation: Host families
- Length of placement: From 1 week
- Start dates: Flexible
As a Care volunteer in Senegal with Projects Abroad, you will have an important role to play in the lives of children. Whether you are volunteering during a gap year - or even a gap month - from further education, a career break, your annual leave, or if you are no longer working and want others to benefit from your experience, your help will be greatly appreciated.
You do not need experience to volunteer on a Care project in Senegal but you do need energy, enthusiasm, and a commitment to seeing the work through. As a Projects Abroad volunteer, you can choose to work in a kindergarten or at our day care center (also known as a Talibé center) for street children.
Projects Abroad’s Care projects in Senegal are based around four hours north of the capital city of Dakar, in the town of St Louis. St Louis is perhaps the most 'French' of all Senegalese towns. You will need to have at least a basic knowledge of French before you arrive or be willing to take a French course before or during your Care placement.
Volunteering at a Care Center for Street Children in Senegal
Senegal has a large number of street children, known locally as Talibés. These children receive no formal education and are forced to spend much of their time begging for scraps of food and small change. As a Projects Abroad volunteer in Senegal you are sure to encounter them in your day-to-day life. We have set up a center to help these children and as a care volunteer you have the opportunity to work at this center.
The work at the drop-in centers involves four main areas; education, health care, sports and leisure and practical refurbishment or clean-up activities. The volunteers follow timetables in order to ensure that the children are exposed to these different areas on a regular basis.
You can get involved with a variety of different activities from administrating health care to distributing food to the children. You may also want to help the children with activities such as brushing their teeth and washing their clothes, and just spend time with them drawing pictures, doing arts and crafts or organizing sport activities.
This center ensures that the street children stay healthy and are taught basic life skills in order to help them in the future.
Returning to the U.S. and entering university, I am a thousand times more focused on my pre-medical plan of study, as what I am learning now resonates strongly beyond the classroom for me. My love of the work I did in my placement in Senegal is a constant reminder to me of why my courses will one day prove so valuable. When I imagine what I would be like today had I never gone to Senegal, I see myself studying away having never gained sight of why I am doing it. Read more...
Volunteering at a Kindergarten in Senegal
The local kindergartens are open from 8.30am until 1pm for children aged from 3 to 6 years old. Many parents are eager to send their children to these kindergartens, and it's not unusual to find classes of up to 45 children. As well as being overstretched, teachers tend to be poorly trained, and have very few ideas as to how to work productively with such large numbers of children.
Volunteers at the kindergartens may find themselves working alongside local staff in the main classes, or taking smaller groups of children aside to focus on specific activities. Your duties will involve teaching basic numeracy, teaching songs, building vocabulary in French and English, and organizing arts and sports activities to improve coordination and motor skills.
You will have an important role in adding to the staff's repertoire of songs, games, and activities. This will ensure that your contribution lives on beyond your placement. The children themselves will be particularly appreciative if you prepare coloring-in sheets or organize arts and crafts sessions.
Volunteering at a Care Placement in Senegal with Projects Abroad
Did you know? A “talibe” is a student from Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, or Mauritania, who studies at a quranic school guided by a local Senegalese teacher known as a marabout. In most cases, Talibes have left their homes, their villages, and their family to come study in a larger town or city.
All of the volunteer care projects in Senegal are eager to have volunteers with fresh ideas and energy to help the permanent staff. Our local staff will work with you to help make the most of any particular skills or special interests - artistic, dramatic, sporting, or other - that you have, and you are sure to return home with many more.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Senegal Care Management Plan.
You can join a Care project in Senegal for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for short term volunteering for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain a valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone volunteering for a longer period.
If you are a high school student and first-time traveler you may want to consider our High School Special programs in Senegal.
If you can make a child smile, bring humor to the Center, make great friends among the volunteers and enjoy the country you’re in and the experience your living, you’ve done it! If your mission is to re-invent the wheel, you’ll find it a tough challenge. You must appreciate your environment and realize that it may not be your background, but this is how it’s done here. What can I bring to the table that will help ‘better’ the system? Read more...