Is childcare volunteering in Senegal right for me?
If you love working with children, you want to actively get involved, and you are interested in volunteering in a French-speaking country, then our Childcare Project in Senegal is for you. It’s a great way to get practical childcare experience, which could help your future career. Best of all, you’ll be contributing to our long-term goals to support children in Senegal.
In addition, this project will help you develop your personal skills, like communication and planning. This can help you stand out in applications and interviews.
You don’t need previous experience to join. You’ll support local staff, and you can reach out to Projects Abroad staff at any time for advice or help. We also hold workshops for all of our Childcare volunteers, where you can share ideas and discuss challenges. You do need to speak basic French, as it will help you communicate with the children. If you need to learn basic phrases before starting your placement, we recommend joining our French Language Course.
Our Childcare Project in Senegal runs all year round, so you can choose when you would like to join. Although you can join from a minimum of one week, we recommend you stay longer. The longer you stay, the bigger your impact on the kids you work with.
What will I do on the Childcare Project in Senegal?
As a volunteer working with children in Senegal, your role is to focus on early childhood development and other important skills, like speaking English. Here are a few of the tasks you can expect to get involved with:
- Run regular language lessons to help improve their English and French language skills
- Organise educational games and activities to promote their development and make learning fun
- Provide assistance to the local staff when they need a hand with additional activities
Your work will focus on the following areas:
Run regular language lessons to help improve their English and French language skills
In Senegal, the talibés and other children you’ll volunteer with have limited access to education, or they attend a crowded kindergarten where learning is difficult. Many of the children even go their whole lives without learning to speak French, the main language of communication in Senegal.
A big part of your role will be teaching English or French at your placement. You can start by teaching basic vocabulary, or practising short, easy phrases. Make your lessons fun by introducing role play games, singing English or French songs, or acting out a play with the children.
Organise educational games and activities to promote their development and make learning fun
Learning isn’t just about going to class and studying. It should be a stimulating experience that encourages a child to learn more. We want the children we work with to learn and have fun at the same time. This is why we encourage you to do educational activities that are also fun and creative. You can do things like:
- Arts and crafts
- Play sports outside
- Read stories
- Play bingo to practise vocabulary
- Play a ball game to improve hand-eye coordination
Each of these activities contributes to their confidence level, social skills, and creativity. These are all important skills to learn during the early childhood years.
Provide assistance to the local staff when they need a hand with additional activities
The purpose of our talibé centre is to give children a safe place to go to during the day. This is why we provide a broad range of services for them. These include:
- Basic education
- Basic healthcare and hygiene
- Sports and leisure
- Shower facilities and a place to wash clothing
At the talibé centre, we rely on volunteers like you to help with as much as possible. This means you should be prepared to help children wash their clothes, and help with maintenance and renovation work at the centre. You’ll also do things like treat the children’s minor wounds, and distribute food.
Where in Senegal will I work?
You’ll be working in the colourful city of St Louis. Every day, you’ll head through the streets alongside roaming goats and sheep casually nibbling on weeds and discarded litter. Among the shaded coffee shops and colourfully painted wooden fishing boats, you’ll see an abundance of French architecture.
The architecture hints at the historical background of St Louis, and its time as the first French colonial settlement in West Africa. St Louis also spent part of a century as the capital of Senegal. These are a few of the reasons St Louis has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Today, the city is an outstanding example of a reinvented colonial city, drawing visitors from all over the world.
You’ll spend your days working with children at a kindergarten, or volunteering with talibé children. With a large number of children coming to these placements every day, it it is difficult for staff to give each child the individualised attention they need.
A typical day volunteering with children in Senegal
Each morning you’ll wake up to the sound of goats bleating and snuffling around nearby plants. You’ll have breakfast with your host family before heading to your placement. A Projects Abroad staff member will accompany you on your first day, so you know where to go.
A typical day will depend on the placement you choose to work at. However, you’ll work Monday to Friday, with your evenings and weekends free.
At the talibé centre, you’ll usually begin by teaching English or French. Since the children come and go during the day, your tasks after these classes vary. You can:
- Plan a friendly sporting game
- Organise an arts and crafts lesson
- Help children wash their clothes
- Prepare and serve meals to the children on a weekly basis
- Share knowledge about the health benefits of practicing good hygiene everyday
At the kindergarten, you’ll work with local teachers. You’ll assist in the main classes, or take smaller groups of children aside to focus on specific activities. You’ll:
- Teach basic numeracy
- Teach basic vocabulary in French and English
- Organise arts and crafts lessons
- Plan sports activities to improve coordination and motor skills
Once your work is done for the day, you are free to explore. Eat at a local restaurant, go on a hike through a national park, or visit a historical site. You can also relax on a nearby beach. We encourage you to socialise with other Projects Abroad volunteers and interns.
What are the aims and impact of this project?
There are two main aims for our Childcare Project in Senegal.
The first is to support and care for talibés. We offer volunteer opportunities with talibés in Senegal because they desperately need support. Talibés are children sent by their families to live in a daara to learn about the Quran and Islam. The purpose was to help young men better integrate into society. They learned patience, humility, and the importance of sharing.
Today, this is no longer the case. After the economic crisis, the daaras could no longer support the children properly. With minimal financial support, the living conditions suffered and the children were forced to beg for money and food. Most talibés end up living on the streets. They have no formal education and often suffer from malnourishment and disease.
To support talibés, Projects Abroad fully funds and runs a care centre in St Louis. The centre provides the children with basic education and healthcare, and weekly meals. We need volunteers like you to volunteer with talibés in Senegal, and give these children the care they need.
The second aim is to give local kindergarten teachers extra support. There aren’t enough local teachers, and the schools have limited funds and resources. Classes are also overcrowded, and teachers struggle to give each child enough attention. With your help, we can ease the pressure on local teachers.
The work you do will help us achieve five long-term goals we’ve outlined in our Childcare Management Plan for Senegal. These goals are:
- Increase literacy
- Increase numeracy
- Improve English/French
- Improve hygiene levels of the children
- Increase emotional care and support to each child
Help us achieve these goals by joining us on a volunteer opportunity with talibés in Senegal.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Food and accommodation
You'll stay with a host family in St Louis. They will welcome you into their home, eager to share their customs and have you teach them about your own culture. We believe that this is the best way to immerse yourself in the culture of Senegal and have a truly unique experience.
We will always try to let you live alongside at least one other Projects Abroad volunteer or intern at the same host family. Your room will be modest, but comfortable, clean, and safe.
Your programme fee includes three meals a day.
Find out more about our accommodation.
Leisure activities and free time
Senegal is a beautiful, vibrant West African country. There’s plenty to do in the evenings and over the weekends during your volunteer trip.
Our offices are based in St Louis, a coastal city bordered by white-sand beaches. It’s here that you’ll see colourful pirogues, which are wooden fishing boats painted in cheerful colours and patterns.
You can also take a trip to the Langue de Barbarie or the National Park of the Birds of Djoudj. These are both ideal locations for leisurely afternoon bird watching.
While you’re in Senegal, be sure to browse through some of the local markets. You can sharpen your bartering skills and buy tasty snacks and souvenirs. The many cafes are also perfect for enjoying local dishes.
There will likely be many other volunteers in Senegal with you, so you can also spend your free time bonding with them. This is a chance to make connections with like-minded people from around the world, as you explore together.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.
Meet the team in Senegal
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