Monthly Archives: October 2016

Pippa introduces the Diapalante Community Education Centre.

The Diapalante community eduction centre is a unique learning centre, especially here in Senegal. The students range from age 6 to the over 50s but what is amazing is that there is something for everyone here! The centre is open morning and afternoon 5 days a week (Saturday – Wednesday to allow members to come during the weekend when they are not working/ at school) and what has struck me is how the centre is always full – of people and of life. It is a very cohesive centre with adults and children of similar abilities in the given subject learning in the same lessons. We have a focus on the practicalities of English in english lessons – giving members the chance they often don’t get at school to practice speaking english, especially with native english speakers! During the lessons, often including Drama or games as well as more formal worksheets and writing, it is so lovely to see the members grow in confidence with their speaking in a foreign language.
The computer room is always full of people – both during structured IT lessons in using Word, Powerpoint, the internet etc and also during more free sessions to use for homework/research/using the learning resources. We have to limit the sessions to 45mins in peak times to let everyone have a go!
One of the most lovely things about the centre is how involved the members are in it running and upkeep. Older members take lessons and younger members are keep to help with tidying/general upkeep of the place – much pride is taken in the centre always being clean and presentable, even when we’ve had 30kids in an art session!

The members love the library and being able to take books out, not only to read but also to be able to show their friends that they have the books!

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Miriam Introduces Kaolack…

Kaolack is a large market town in the Kaolack region of Senegal.  Kaolack has a population of 172,305 people (2002 census)  on the north bank of the Saloum River and the N1 road in Senegal. It is the capital of the Kaolack Region, which borders The Gambia to the south, and is located 95 miles from the Capital, Dakar.
Kaolack hosts its own culture which includes a culture rich in food and hospitality. Due to its proximity to the Saloum River, fish comprised an important part of the diet with one of the most popular traditional dishes, Tchepujen. This fish and rice dish comes in two forms; red and white, with the red traditionally containing more tomatoes and spice. Ataya is also a vital part of culture in Kaolack, due to the heat many people prefer to stay outside and prepare traditional Senegalese tea which is a mixture of green tea, mint and sugar. The preparation of which is a spectacle in itself and tea is taken very seriously.
Kaolack is an important regional market town and is Senegal’s main peanut trading and processing center. Peanut production and harvesting forms a majority of business in the Kaolack region as well as the market. The market is the largest covered market in West Africa so regardless of what you’re looking for Kaolack market with probably have it somewhere amounts its narrow roads and tightly packed stalls. There is a peanut oil processing plant with its own port facilities in the downstream suburb of Lyndiane, while Salt pans across the Saloum River constitute the city’s only other major industrial activity Kaolack market is the largest covered market in West Africa.  Even after the end of the slave trade in Senegal Kaolack maintained its role as an important trading point for goods but nowadays is more well known for its peanut and salt production.
As the center of Ibrahimiyya branch of the Tijaniyyah Sufi order founded by Ibrayima Ñas, it is also a major center of Islamic education. Kaolack like many parts of Senegal plays host to many Maribous and is home to many Talebei who are young boys that study the Quran under the guidance of the Maribous. The Talebei boys are an integral part of the Kaolack community as they share meals with local families and can be found on any given street. Religion isn’t only reflected in the social community of Kaolack but also plays a vital role in local architecture with a range of mosques with their own character and styles an example of which is the Medina Baay mosque in Kaolack which is one of the largest and best known in Senegal.


Introducing the new Diapalante Volunteers

Hello! We are the new volunteers at the Diapalante centre in Kaolack! We’ve been here for a month now so it seems high time to introduce ourselves!

My name is Pippa Sayers (though I’m Fatima Kane now!) and I am working with the kids especially in the computer room here and English teaching too. I am really interested in science and maths and hope to do some fun science with the kids here! I also like making things and craft along with a bit of sport – especially swimming and basketball! I’m really enjoying getting to know the members and organising the maker days so the members can learn different and exciting skills. I’ve been really surprised (in a good way) about how keen the members are to come to the centre – some every day!

My name is Miriam Amrani and I’m working with the kids and adults in the library and with English teaching. I love history, science and most importantly here, football. I play football and rugby back in England and hope that we can organise some more sport with the kids in the centre. So far we’ve organised some really helpful festive sessions including for halloween and bonfire night which has included introducing new vocabulary and testing verbs, we’ll hopefully get more done towards Christmas. I’m really pleased with how enthusiastic and driven to learn English the students are.