Introducing the Diapalante Volunteers ’17/18

Salaamaalakum !
After a hectic few weeks, we have finally found 5 minutes to introduce ourselves. The centre now knows us (Corran and Polly) as Awa and Mame Diara and it is so exciting to be open for business. It has been a tough few weeks acclimatising to the heat and the bites… mosquitoes, we see you! However, we’re loving working at the centre – it’s challenging but so incredibly rewarding, and the members are all amazing!

My name is Polly and I live in the Scottish Borders. I live at home with my family and our conglomeration of animals. I completed my A Level examinations in June and am currently waiting for replies to my university application. I chose Project Trust as they are the only gap year charity that sends volunteers overseas for a year. Senegal was always my number one choice at it is a francophone country and as such I have applied to do BA Modern Languages at University. In May, I was told that was going to Senegal with Diapalante Senegal and it was at that point that it really began to feel real! Having never even left Europe before, the prospect of living in a different continent approximately 3000 miles from home was daunting and in all honesty it is still daunting for me now! Bring on the next year!

Hi, I’m Awa, formerly known as Corran, and I’m from the North-East of Scotland. I’m a linguist at heart, and am hoping to study English Literature and Linguistics when I come back. I’m in charge of the library here at Diapalante, although I do my fair share of teaching as well! I love reading, and English, and am hoping to pass on some of that love to the members here. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the members’ English will improve throughout the year (and how many Scottish idioms they accidentally pick up!). As well as being interested in languages, I also really enjoy both Maths and Physics, and am relishing the opportunity to try and make these traditionally difficult subjects more accessible to the members!

Corran and Polly

Sewing lessons

The diapalante members have been doing a series of sewing workshops led by Lizzi (returned volunteer 2015/16). This has involved learning to use the machines and sew in straight(ish!) lines, cutting, preparing templates and designs to make some lovely, Senegal-coloured bunting.

Afternoon Tea at Diapalante

Diapalante was proud to host parents and family members for an afternoon tea last week. The celebration was a chance for the members to receive certificates for the hard work they have put in this year – whether that be in Coding, Electronics, Reading, Computer skills, English or just for having general worked hard and been helpful! The members were proud to show their families around the centre and explain what they do here! There was also some beautiful prayers read for the victims of the terrorist attacks in England.

 

72 hours of Diapalante Celebration

The festivities began on Friday with a carnival, themed ‘Return to Traditional Values’. The members of Diapalante took to the streets in a long procession of horses and carts, motorbikes, a truck playing the Diapalante theme-tune/advert and the rest on foot. Everyone was dressed in their best traditional clothes and holding signs made by the members decorated with quotes and sayings -‘It’s never too late to learn’, ‘Practice makes perfect’ etc etc.

The next morning the Official ceremony was held. Diapalante was proud to showcase some amazing drama, dancing and singing demonstrating a wide variety of what they are able to learn and benefit from at the centre. This was alongside speeches from the Schools Inspector, a representative of the parents and of the members.

Later the members and everyone else who wanted to join were treated to an afternoon of fun fitness. Despite the heat everyone was in high spirits and full of energy! This was followed by a karate demonstration and karate-comedy-drama about prayer and determination.

In the evening, as it was a celebration, the area was treated to a party! This included singing from local celebrity – Zahra Mbaye and drum playing. A great time was had by all and the dancing was full of energy and joy.

The next day Diapalante held a conference on ‘Children, youth and cybercriminality’. A wide range of speakers including the police, local religious leaders and civil servants ensured a lively debate with a huge variety of ideas and opinions. The event was informative and enjoyed by everyone, from the youngest member, to the elders who came to participate.

Art from Rubbish

Last week the Diapalanté centre were pleased to welcome an artist from Dakar to lead workshops in creating art from rubbish. The members used a variety of resources that could be found – Coconut shells, teapots, old keyboards, newspaper, drinks cans, empty bottles- anything that they had – to create a flock of birds that are now on display around the centre.

In appreciation of whiteboards

Hi this is Pippa and I would like to take a moment to thank those who bought the Diapalante advent calendar, especially in regards to the whiteboard pens. Whiteboards (and their pens) are one of the most handy and useful resources we are lucky enough to have at the centre. The large ones that can be put at the front of a lesson and allow ideas to be explored so that all the pupils can see and add to them, they also allow us to work in teams – sharing ideas and thought-processes clearly. The small whiteboards allow students to work without fear of making a mistake. Members can be very worried about writing things down wrong and whiteboards allow them the freedom to think creatively and thoroughly through their ideas without this becoming a problem. Whiteboard pens also mean that one (laminated) sheet can be used again and again allowing lots of members to benefit from the same resource and allowing it to be reusable. In summary, whiteboards and their pens are great.

Sheets

Thanks to those who bought the Diapalante Advent Calendar the members of Diapalante enjoyed working from some brand-new exercise sheets to help them practice their French language skills (the language used in schools). Given that most children grow up speaking Wolof and then are taught entirely in French at school these French sessions are invaluable in not only allowing the members who are at school to improve their French, but also allowing them to gain the language skils needed to engage in all their other school subjects.

Maths at Diapalante

The younger members have really enjoyed a series of maths lessons on shapes and symmetry thanks to generosity of people who sponsored it in the Christmas booklet. The older members have also enjoyed a series of maths workshops on algebra, geometry and other varied topics, lead by a university maths student.