Volunteer In Senegal

General Information

When you volunteer in Senegal you travel to the village of Warang near Mbour, 45 km south of Dakar.

Senegal offers a total change of scenery. As the land of music and poetry, Senegal is a safe country and one of the most diverse states in West Africa located next to the Atlantic Ocean. The country has a tradition of openness, talkative and welcoming people. You’ll discover the true form of African Senegal during your stay. Tourism is increasing and the beautiful country has many breathtaking sights included in the UNESCO heritage.

The country almost has 20 ethnic groups each with their own language and culture and is a model of society worldwide. In addition to their own ethnic language, 70% of the population speaks the “Wolof” language. The language of instruction is French. The main industry includes: agriculture, fishing, tourism, phosphate mines, building materials and oil refineries.

Almost half of the population earns less than € 1.50 per day, which often promotes (forced) corruption. Most women and half of the men are illiterate. Child mortality is the highest among children in rural areas, in poor families and families with low educated mothers. Child mortality is strongly linked to poverty. Earning more money is not a big help, as long as it is not combined with better education, public healthcare and drinking water. 

Education, especially for girls and mothers, will undoubtedly save children’s lives. Most families (60%) live from agriculture, but their fields often do not provide enough to feed an entire family. Our children’s parents have never been to school and cannot read or write. They live in large families. From the age of 10-12 they go fishing with their father or they trade vegetables, fruit, fish, grains, etc. that they transport by horse / donkey and cart.

Petite Côte
Fishing port in Mbour

About Warang

Warang is a quiet tourist village where the school and your place of residence is located. Located along the Atlantic Ocean, beach walks and beautiful sunsets are certainly possible.
 
The “Petite Côte” has become an important tourist destination, ideal for seaside activities. There are plenty of beautiful places, villages and scenic (quiet) beaches that you can visit.
 
8 km north is Mbour, the nearest city. Mbour is an important and typical African city, full of activities and the most important economic center of the Petite Côte. The largest part of the income consists of artisanal fishing. Make sure to visit the fishing port, the market and the arrival of the beautifully colored fishing boats around 4 p.m.

Volunteer in Senegal
Petite Côte

Projects In Senegal

The projects below are perfect for a diverse group of friends who want to volunteer in Senegal. All projects take place in the same school group, meaning volunteers of the different projects work closely together. In addition, all volunteers stay in the same accommodation. Students, “gap-year” and recent graduates are welcome in all projects.

Education

What do volunteers do?
The volunteers have several responsibilities. It is important to observe the toddlers to respond to their interests, possibilities, preferences, feelings, but notice important skills or attitudes that are insufficiently developed.
 
All these components are therefore also included in the duties of the volunteer and include supervision (including creative visual, rhythmic, musical and communication skills), in consultation with the responsible teacher.
 
The volunteer discovers and encourages how he / she can prepare, organize and guide the learning activities for preschool children. How do you stimulate the development of preschool children? How do you organize that?
 
The volunteer works in a nursery school with 111 children with ages between 3 & 5 years.

Requirements
Volunteers must be interested and able to assist local teachers in the education of children between 3 and 6. Personal and creative ideas are
appreciated. Propose solutions / recommendations for the quality of education. Support and ideas for innovation and improvement are always
appreciated.
 
The volunteer must understand and know that the future of the Senegalese society lies in education and training. Therefore, he / she has to be able to assist and improve the education of children from poor families. For this he / she will be well informed by the board and competent teachers. Personal proposals / recommendations are welcome.
 
Good knowledge of French is necessary.
 
Typical day: The volunteers follow the timetable of the lessons. School time runs every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and during the weekend you’re off.
 
Minimum: 4 weeks
 
Schedule: 
All year long. During July, August, September (rain season) and during the holidays (Christmas and Easter holidays) there are no classroom activities. We need less volunteers during this period, but there still are regular tasks that need to be performed. You will learn more about this during the application for your volunteer work.
 
Maximum amount of volunteers (at the same time): 6 (2 per class)

What do volunteers do?

Volunteers help to develop lesson plans, in line with curriculum objectives for different subjects, including mathematics, languages, history, geography and world orientation.

They use the content of their learning experience and encourage our students to gain more insight into all topics the children are interested. Volunteers also contribute to school events and communicate with experienced colleagues and the school management.
 
Personal and creative ideas are appreciated. As a volunteer you propose solutions and quality recommendations. Support and ideas for innovation and improvement are encouraged. The volunteers are well informed and supervised by the board and competent teachers.
 
Volunteers are workong in a primary school with 494 students consisting of 12 classes:

  • Primary section (2x C.I./Integration lessons): 6 years (for children who did not attend kindergarten)
  • Preparation lessons (2x C.P./Cours Préparatoire): 7 years
  • Elementary lessons 1st year (2x C.E.1 / Cours Elementary): 8 years
  • Elementary lessons 2nd year (2xC.E.2 / Cours élémentaires 2ième année): 9 years
  • Second year secondary lessons (2xC.M.1 / Cours Moyen 1ère année): 10 years
  • Second year secondary lessons (2xC.M.2 / Cours Moyen 2ième année): 11 years

 
Requirements

  • Volunteers must be interested in, and able to support local teachers in the education of children between 6 and 11 years old.
  •  Understanding and realizing that a better future for the Senegalese society lies in education and training. You have to be able to assist and improve the education of children from poor families.
  • Good knowledge of French is necessary.

 
Typical day: The volunteers follow the school’s timetable. School is every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. our school is close on Wednesday afternoon and during the weekends.
 
Minimum: 4 weeks
 
Schedule:  Year round, but keep in mind that during July, August, September (rain season) and during the holidays (Christmas and Easter holidays) there
are no classroom activities. We need less volunteers during this period, but there still are regular tasks that need to be performed. You will learn more about this during the application for your volunteer work.
 
Maximum amount of volunteers (at the same time): 24 (2 per class)

In Senegal, society consists mainly of residents who do not accept entertainment, education and work with auditively deficient people. While the deaf are excluded and live on the edge of society, they represent an important group (1%).

It has been discovered that deaf children hear with their eyes and that, with the help of their hands and expression, they can express themselves as easily as their non deaf friends . Unfortunately, there is no organized and adapted state education for these deaf people in Senegal.

Some very limited literacy projects allow children and adults to express themselves with gestures, but there is no real education here. The result is that thousands of deaf children grow up without developing their cognitive, emotional and social skills …

The chance of being able to make a productive contribution to society is virtually non-existent for them. Their exclusion and isolation as a child, and later as an adult, remains a major problem.
Our school association refuses to accept this situation, because this large generation demands recognition and socialization, problems that go far beyond deafness itself.

We also regret the lack of responsibility from the government for their integration into society, especially since decisions or laws have already been signed in the past (Social Orientation Act 2010-15 of 6 July 2010) … The superiors should do something about this, but nothing has happened, and the situation remains unchanged.

As there is no official and special education for the deaf, there is no special training for teachers. On a pedagogical level, the school association works with the school for the deaf in Dakar and can count on their support. At the start of the 2014-2015 school year, 3 new classes were opened. In 2019 we will have 80 pupils from 4 to 17 years old in primary school with 6 classes.

Sport and relaxation are an essential part of every child’s education. The energy of deaf children can also be properly directed with sport. Thanks to our school, the deaf also participate in football matches, practice rugby, basketball and learn to swim. Judo also promotes mutual respect and discipline.

The school group continues to provide education for deaf children. For this they try to extend their range to more remote areas, where there is no education for deaf children. Therefore, in October 2016, a boarding school was opened within walking distance of the school group to accommodate 15 children from 5 to 15 years old. The children are fully taken care of and can relax and develop in various areas. A happy and large family was created in this way. The costs for their training and their stay are funded by donations. In time, the boarding school will develop in function of the number of admitted children who have reached school age.

The activities for these children are diverse and gradually replace the hard times of their first years of life: sports, manual activities, trips, collective games, playing with LEGO, etc.

In order to let the young deaf people function autonomously later, we set up workshops so that they can learn different skills, like sewing, gardening, knitting and crocheting, ceramics and pottery, bookbinding, joinery, metal processing, patisserie, etc. This requires an efficient and professional approach.

What do our volunteers do?
Volunteers must be interested and able to assist local teachers in the education of deaf children. Personal commitment and creative ideas are always welcome. Support and ideas for innovation and improvement are appreciated.

Requierements

  • Knowledge and experience in sign language (preferably American Sign Language), care, social integration etc. are necessary to teach all pupils in our school.
  • Good knowledge of French is also necessary to be able to work smoothly with the local team.
  • As a volunteer you must be able to understand and know that the future of these children lies in their education and training. As a volunteer you also need to be able to feel, assist and help these children to integrate into society. The volunteers are sufficiently informed by the board and competent teachers about this.

Typical day: The volunteers follow the school’s timetable. School is every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. our school is close on Wednesday afternoon and during the weekends.

Minimum: 8 weeks

Schedule:  Year round, but keep in mind that during July, August, September (rain season) and during the holidays (Christmas and Easter holidays) there are no classroom activities. We need less volunteers during this period, but there still are regular tasks that need to be performed. You will learn more about this during the application for your volunteer work.

Maximum amount of volunteers (at the same time): 12 (2 per class).

Agriculture

You work on the agricultural project of our education projects in Senegal.
 
Permaculture is a science that favors a human living environment that is ecologically sustainable and economically stable. Complex ecosystems in nature serve as a model for permaculture.
 
Permaculture is a philosophy of cooperation with nature, and not against nature. Long-term and well-considered observations are used, in contrast to the existing, and in the long run, harmful work.
 
We look at plants and animals from many different perspectives instead of treating them as an isolated product system. It has many extensive branches, but is not limited to ecological designs, ecological engineering, regenerative design, environmental design and construction.
 
Permaculture also includes integrated water management that develops a natural and sustainable architecture, as well as a regenerative and self-sustained habitat and farming systems, modeled from natural ecosystems.
 
Permaculture has several purposes:

  • food supply
  • improve water management
  • production of fuel, building material
  • restoration of man-made landscapes
  • creating a resilient environment that offers protection against possible natural disasters.

 
Requirements   

  • The volunteer must be interested and able to help develop local permaculture. Support and ideas for innovation and improvement are appreciated. The volunteers will be well informed by local and experienced specialists.
  • The volunteer must be able to observe and map the location and its users. Factors such as light, wind and rain are investigate. Energy flow, people and material has to be included. In dry countries such as Senegal, the designs are mainly made to optimize water collection and conservation.
  • Good knowledge of French is necessary to be able to work smoothly with the local team.

 
Minimum: 8 weeks
 
Schedule: continuously
 
Typical day: The volunteers arrange their work in consultation with the school’s management team and the local plantation managers.
 
Maximum amount of volunteers:  Depending on the period and the products to be processed.

Healthcare

Various approaches are possible: 

  • General medicine, 
  • Dentistry, 
  • Nursing, 
  • Social assistance, 
  • physiotherapy, 
  • …..

What do our volunteers do?
Our goal is to contribute to the quality and continuity of care provision within a specific domain in the our school group.

The core of the volunteer’s contribution is to perform diagnostic research, monitor the patient’s health and, if necessary, act therapeutically.
 
The duties of the volunteer include: investigating, monitoring, treating, guiding and communicating with all patients with all types of disorders within the (medical) field.
 
The pupils can use first aid during school hours in a separate room under the supervision of a professional nurse. Volunteers are informed by the board and the approved nurse.
 
Requirements

  • The volunteer has received training (or is following training) within a specific medical domain (medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, nursing, social assistance).
  • Volunteers who provide extra guidance without medical intervention are also welcome. It is important that you are socially focused and open to organizing activities for children with Down’s syndrome.
  • Good knowledge of French is necessary to be able to work smoothly with the local team.

Minimum: 2 weeks
 
Schedule: Year round? but keep in mind that during July, August, September (rain season) and during the holidays (Christmas and Easter holidays) there are no classroom activities. We need less volunteers during this period, but there still are regular tasks that need to be performed. You will learn more about this during the application for your volunteer work.
 
Typical day: The volunteers arrange their work in consultation with the management of the school group.

Caregiving

Children with Down syndrome are more likely to have medical problems causing physical problems over the years. Problems also occur with behavior, upbringing and mental development.
 
Regular monitoring from the first month of life up to and including the teenage years is very important. Problems can be detected early and treated as well as possible. This way we can also guide the child but also the family.
 
Thanks to improvements in medical science, the health and life expectancy of children with Down’s syndrome has increased enormously. In this way, early detection of problems can contribute to a better quality of life for the child.
 
What do our volunteers do?
 Practicing and integrating into daily care.
 
Requierements:

  • Doctor / Pediatrician (or students in training) whether or not specialized in Down’s syndrome.
  • Pediatric physiotherapist, specialized teacher, students in training.
  • Good knowledge of French is necessary to be able to work smoothly with the local team.

 
Minimum: 2 weeks
 
Schedule: Year round, but keep in mind that during July, August, September (rain season) and during the holidays (Christmas and Easter holidays) there
are no classroom activities. We need less volunteers during this period, but there still are regular tasks that need to be performed. You will learn more about this during the application for your volunteer work.
 
Typical day: The volunteers arrange their work in consultation with the management of the school group.

Our Local Team In Senegal

It would be an endless job if we had to list all the members of the local team. The local team consists of a management board and a board of directors
who manage, orient and guide the various groups. Kindergarten, primary school, primary school for deaf children, the care of children with Down syndrome and the care of deaf children in the boarding school are provided by competent teachers and staff. Traditional professions for deaf children are taught by professional trainers.

Below the people who will introduce you to our magnificent team

volunteer in Senegal

René

Administrative Director

René is the school group’s administrative director and will guide you through your work.
 

volunteer in Senegal

Mathilde & Mady

Volunteers' Parents

Mady and Mathilde are the volunteer’s “parents”. They will welcome you upon arrival and they are always willing to explain the hundreds of cultural, religious and habitual differences.
 
They provide the volunteers their meals and a place to stay every day.

Our Accommodation

The guesthouse where we house the volunteers is located about 1.5 km walking distance from the school & only 500 meters from the Atlantic Ocean.
 
All rooms are equipped with a double bed or 2 separate beds, each with storage space, a mosquito net, a fan, sheets and towels. You share the room with maximum 1 other volunteer.
 
There is western sanitation and hot water showers. You share the bathroom and toilet with a maximum of 4 other volunteers.
 
Electricity is 220 volts and there are plenty of sockets available. Wi-Fi is present in the entire building.

Meals

You eat breakfast and dinner on the roof terrace of the guesthouse. You eat lunch at your workplace in the school group.

Free Time

Volunteering in Senegal is more than just work. You cannot compare voluntary work to a full-time day job. You will have full say in your hours and have enough time to explore the area together with the other volunteers.

Possible Costs

Volunteering abroad does cost money and it is not our intention that the community you are going to help has to pay for this. If there was enough money to bear these costs, we would rather spend them on a local employees who understand the local culture and daily customs.
If you want to learn more about our transparent system, take a look at our transparency page.

Accommodation & Meals Cost

These costs, which you pay on site, are related to your stay in Senegal such as your accommodation and meals. By paying locally, you are also sure that your contribution will end in Senegal and will not stay behind at various “stations”. 

  • 2 weeks: €280
  • 3 weeks €380
  • 4 weeks €480
  • extra week: €100

What is included?

  • Welcoming at the airport (Blaise Diagne in Dakar) and transportation to accomodation in Warang;
  • Transportation to the airport after your placement;
  • Local costs and preparations for your stay;
  • Your stay in a comfortable guesthouse during your entire placement;
  • Breakfast and dinner during the entire placement;
  • Lunch with the students at school during the school year (not during weekends and holidays);
  • Daily follow-up, guidance and cooperation with our local team;
  • Wi-Fi;

Other Possible Costs

Probably there are other expenses that you have to keep in mind. Below a brief summary of the most common possible costs:

  • International transfers;
  • Drinks;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Lunch during weekends and holidays;
  • Transport and costs specific to your free time;
  • Souvenirs;
  • Extra snacks.

Alliance Fee

any projects require a continuity of volunteers to create impact and we want to ensure sufficient inflow of volunteers to keep every project viable. Unfortunately volunteer recruitment comes with a costs such as marketing. The fundraising done by the organizations in our alliance are exclusively used for development projects in the countries mentioned on this website.

The alliance fee serves to bear the costs of the alliance’s platform. We ask every participant a one-time alliance fee of € 130. This is a one-time contribution which you pay after being accepted for your first volunteer placement. After payment of this contribution you can do unlimited voluntary work in any project in the future (if there is availability and you meet the set requirements for that project).

As a member, we always inform you as soon as new projects are added in our alliance.

What is your alliance fee used for?

  1. Despite of our good intentions, we are also obliged to pay taxes. After this the balance is used for: annual costs for the management of our platform such as the maintenance of the registration database, administration …. We try to minimize these costs, but we have to cover them. We also have a great looking website that needs to be maintained and kept up-to-date.
  2. Promotion costs money and we want to be visible as much as possible so we find enough volunteers for each project. Your contribution is also used for promotions on various media, printed materials etc. Besides this we also try to attend as many fairs & network events as possible.
  3. We are only volunteers and put a lot of effort in our projects but also in your preperation. In the past we had volunteers not showing up which is very disturbing to our team and local communities that we support. We also view this contribution as a form of guarantee that you will actually fulfill your commitment.

You can read more at our transparency page.

Preparation & Guidance

We will not let you leave without a thorough preparation. We have a detailed system, so you can sleep on both ears and leave with peace of mind. Once you have been accepted and everything has been put in order, you can count on the guidance of our experts.
 
As soon as you applied and you are accepted to volunteer we start with your preparation. You can already read a lot on this website, besides this we also prepare you through other channels. Once in the field you also can rely on our local team.

Project Page

Volunteering abroad will have an impact on you but also on the local community. We think it’s very important, that you as a volunteer are aware about what to expect.  So you can start prepared with your volunteering experience. When you are accepted as a volunteer and you confirmed from your side, you will receive the access codes for our secured volunteer page. At this page you can read all information which is important for your preparation, Such as information about your project, accommodation, How to apply for your visa, a packing list, a complete chapter about cultural differences and much more …

Personal Mentor

You will be assigned a mentor who you can contact for any help or needed advice. Our mentors are members of our alliance and have years of experience in the projects we support. This system ensures that you receive good guidance from VAA.

Your safety is very important to us. We only allow volunteers to travel to areas that are politically stable. If this is not the case, the project will not proceed. Every member of the alliance keeps a close eye on the security recommendations. Of course, we can also rely on the local employees of the projects. They live and work there themselves and know the area very well.

Senegal is located in the tropical climate zone at the transition zone from the dry Sahara in the north to a moist tropical rain zone. There are roughly two seasons: the rain and the dry season.
 
The rain season, July to mid-October, is characterized by tropical rain showers that often fall at night. In the coastal region, however, a sea breeze brings the necessary cooling. During the dry period, the temperatures on the coast are pleasant and the temperature rises the further you go inland.

Every project has at least one permanent employee. This employee organizes your project and your stay together with the participating organization of our alliance. During your stay you can always connect with them; they are available for advice and practical information, but you can also count on them in case of an emergency.

Upon arrival at the international airport Blaise Diagne in Dakar you will be met by a taxi or school bus that will take you to your place of residence in Warang, 45 km south of Dakar.
 
Upon arrival at the residence you will be welcomed with open arms by Mathilde and Mady who immediately give you an inviting and welcoming feeling.

You will receive a detailed route description, once you are accepted as to volunteer in Senegal. Here you can read all contact information, addresses, etc
In the past we had problems with sharing our operations address therefore we deliberately not share this information in advance. The organizations within our alliance take their duties seriously, our projects are not tourist  attractions and we do not want uninvited guests to disturb our operations. Moreover, it is very disturbing for the local employees of our alliance but also for other volunteers if someone suddenly appears at the projects to take a look.

We are not doctors and we do not know your personal & medical background. That is why we advise everyone to make an appointment with your doctor or travel vaccination center before traveling to your destination. You can always take a look at the website of the WHO for the latest situation in Senegal.

Every organization within our alliance has an emergency procedure and you also receive all emergency telephone numbers once accepted as a volunteer. You will find all this information on your personal project page, you will receive the code as soon as you are accepted as a volunteer and you completed your application.

For Senegal, you only need an international passport that is valid for at least another three months upon arrival. You will receive a visa for three months upon arrival. It is no problem at all if you want to stay longer. We can help you with a visa run (quickly cross the border) to Gambia.

There is no typical day or script to follow – every day will be different and full of surprises. That is the beauty, but also challenge, of international volunteering. We expect you to understand this and be flexible, open and proactive at all times.

The projects run Monday through Saturday and Sunday are usually free days. Depending on your project, you will work some combination of different hours during.

There are always new initiatives being launched and other volunteers looking for a helping hand. The projects are very dynamic and responsive to the community’s needs, and we encourage you to be flexible and willing to help wherever there is need. It is very likely that you will have the opportunity to work across multiple projects. Remember, the more you put into your experience, the more you will get out of it.

The official language in Senegal is French. We also ask that our volunteers at least have an moderate knowledge of French.

All organizations active in the alliance take their work very seriously. From general preparations to details that you never imagined that they exist, but that are important to give you a safe, comfortable and meaningful experience. We invest a lot of time in preparing, following up and implementing our preparation materials, but also our projects on site. We hope that you, for your part, commit yourself 100% during your volunteer work and this is done in a respectful way for us, but even more so for the local community you are going to help.

  • Volunteers are not tourists. Volunteers cooperate and serve the local population while tourists want to be served. We expect you to adopt an open, flexible and proactive attitude. After all, these are the most fundamental characteristics of a good volunteer.
  • Volunteers are not employees. You will be shown the direction before and during your voluntary work, but you will not receive the same training as an employee receives. We expect you to ask questions, offer your help and engage in the execution of your project work.
  • Kindness and being positive are very good qualities. You will meet many people during your volunteer work. Good social qualities are the key to success for good interaction with others. The best volunteers are those who build a good relationship with the people they work with. Take every opportunity to build a relationship of trust, even if there is a language barrier.
  • You stay and work in a developing country where life is completely different from what you are used to. Do not expect to find the same efficiency, punctuality and structures that you are used to. Being open minded and adapting to new situations are the most fundamental qualities of a volunteer. Do not expect that you will get a written scenario. Every day will be different and you can come across different situations that you did not expect on your path.
  • You may have taken a vacation to do volunteer work. However, keep in mind that a “volunteer holiday” does not exist. Volunteers enjoy their work and enjoy themselves during their free time. However, volunteering abroad is not easy. It can be very challenging and some days seem like an exercise in managing frustrations. It is all part of the experience so patience and a positive attitude are good qualities for a volunteer.
  • You are not going to change the world. As long as you fulfill your duties in a responsible manner, you will be part of the team and will have a positive impact on the local community.
  • Be humble and open to learn. You may have overwhelming ideas, qualities, talents and knowledge to share. The local population also has a lot to offer.
  • You travel to a new country where the smallest parts of daily life differ from what you know. Try to understand this and do not judge it too quickly. The culture of the community you are staying in is no better or worse than in your hometown, it is just different. Turn off your blinkers, open your heart and you will feel comfortable even outside your own comfort zone.
  • During your volunteer work, and especially during the preparation, you will receive a lot of information about the projects, living facilities, daily life, etc. Circumstances can change unexpectedly. Local needs may cause you to perform tasks other than planned. You must understand that the duties of a volunteer are based on local needs and not on you personally. It is your responsibility to adjust, because you are going to give and not to take.

Daily behavior when you volunteer in Senegal

  • Dress appropriately and in consideration of the local culture. Women especially, you may have to dress more conservatively than you are used to at home. 
  • Follow the local laws and remember, corruption and poor government services are the norm in Senegal. 
  • Abide by the cultural norms and rules of your hosts. Look to them for social cues and if you have a question, ask. Do not be shy!   
  • While we will not babysit you, we expect you to follow the instructions and rules set forth by us and our local partners. We also expect you to be a good communicator who is friendly and respectful to us and our team. Whether something is going well or not, tell us.
Read more about our vision

Start Dates

In our alliance we always ask the volunteers to do volunteer work by week. At some projects it is already possible to volunteer for one week, but it is also be possible that a minimum placement of a couple of months is required for certain projects. You can read this at the projects chapter of the chosen destination.

When Can I Arrive In Senegal

For Senegal you can choose which day you arrive.

What is the minimum period to volunteer in Senegal?

Volunteering in Senegal is possible from 2 weeks. Depending on the project you register for.