Diapalante Community Centre, Kaolack

You will be teaching English and ICT at a community education centre in the dusty market town of Kaolack. You will be given a large amount of freedom and responsibility at this project with a busy workload. The centre is always a hub of activity and you will see a large impact from the work you do.

Your Project

Situated in the fairly large town of Kaolack, very close to the large Kaolack market. Kaolack is a long way off the tourist-track although it is an important trading centre of the country. It has large, sandy streets and although taxis are a common means of transport, so are horses and carts. Many people in Kaolack have a strong faith and you will have a chance to learn about Islam while becoming fully integrated into Senegalese culture as the two are closely linked especially in Kaolack. French is spoken by some, but most people only speak Wolof. You will quickly develop a basic ability to communicate which will progress throughout your year.

The centre is run by the British charity Diapalante. The name ‘Diapalante’ is Wolof and means mutual assistance, partnership or solidarity. The centre’s focus is on teaching English and IT skills, but how this is done depends a lot on you.

You will be responsible for maintaining the centre and its online blog, looking after the computers and the library but most importantly teaching English and IT lessons for all age-groups and abilities. There are around 850 members of the centre, aged from 7 to 50+ of all abilities and educational levels. The number of members you will support means that the centre is always busy and work can be demanding and challenging, but you will see a high-level of impact from the work you do and come to be good friends with the members. Most members have some level of French (and most speak it very well) so your teaching can take place in French, English, and also in Wolof as it improves. The centre’s website and blog can be found online at www.diapalante.org and this will give you a fuller insight into both the charity itself and the work you do.

Accommodation

You will live in the centre where you and your partner will have a bedroom each. There is also a bathroom with water that runs most of the time and a shower. You will eat meals with Master P and his family at their home, which is just a two-minute walk up the street where you will find yourself quickly becoming part of the family – spending time there drinking attaya (Senegalese tea), meeting friends and practicing your Wolof and French. There are lots of shops near by to buy any essential bits-and-pieces, although the market is never too far away and you can get anything there – if you know where to look! While the work at the centre can be hectic, life moves slowly in Kaolack and generally has a laid-back and relaxed culture.

Life in Senegal

Senegal is known for its music and colour. It sits on the edge of West Africa with Dakar as its capital – a busy, bustling town where the pace of life matches the electric beats and rhythms of its iconic music scene. As one of the biggest ports on the West African coast line, there is a huge amount of international business moving through Dakar. It’s a battle to leave the city as, due to being built on a peninsula, there is a constant traffic jam moving East. Once outside the limits, there are wide open spaces, peppered with baobab trees and meandering wildlife.

Kaolack, situated 95 miles southeast of Dakar, is an important market town and is Senegal’s main peanut producing and processing area. Life here definitely moves at a slower pace with everyone keen to stop and chat and take attaya together – the Senegalese tea ceremony. In the South-East the land gets greener and more fertile while the dust gets redder, capturing that traditional ‘African’ landscape.

Wolof is the most widely spoken Senegalese language but French is the official language. Many people also speak Arabic as well several other Senegalese languages. There’s lots of scope to develop a very high level of language skills in both French and conversational Wolof – not a claim that many can boast.

Map of Senegal

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