Tonight we went out for a change …
We have been in need of extra teaching space in the Centre. So recently we combined the resource room, which was used to aid the younger members of the Centre in developing their French ability with the help of the Centre’s Young Leaders, and the library. Moving each of the shelves was no easy task, neither was reorganising the books back onto the shelves, making sure to keep the French books from the English,.
However with the job now done the library is always packed with members wanting to read and borrow books. Our younger members enjoy the French stories about some of their favourite characters like “Akissi” and our adult members are taking full advantage of our English learning resources. Also with these two rooms now combined the centre now has an extra room which can be used as a classroom to carry out different activities and lessons.
A 40 foot shipping container arrived here from Ashwell last month! This was the result of a lot of hard work from some very generous people who volunteered their time to help hand pack each of the donated resources into the container. Unfortunately some chairs had to remain behind as even a 40 foot container couldn’t hold everything that had congregated in the garden of Kirby Manor.
The packing at Kirby Manor took around 6 hours, however the unpacking at Diapalante, Kaolack took little less than 2 hours thanks to the overwhelming number of volunteers who showed up to help unload and lift the resources into the centre.
Chairs were the first to come when the doors were opened, followed by tables, computers, whiteboards, crafts materials, cabinets of various sizes, more chairs and many more resources the centre and its members are very thankful for.
For a time the Centre was very cluttered and one could hardly move about a room without thinking that somehow they had stumbled into an obstacle course, but now the clutter has been organised and the centre is once again in full swing enjoying and taking advantage of what it now has. Special thanks to anyone who was able to participate in donating goods or helping the container make its way to Senegal.
Last autumn the Diapalante Community Education Centre asked its teenage members to volunteer as young leaders, leading after-school learning activities for primary school children.
We hope by the end of the school year:
- to have helped 90 primary school children to improve their French skills so they can understand their school lessons better.
- to have a group of young leaders who will
- continue to support Diapalante’s work with the younger children.
- have gained confidence and leadership skills which will help them to succeed in the world of work and as citizens in a “Sénégal Emergent”.
- to be ready to repeat the programme at the Centre in coming years.
On behalf of the trustees I would like to encourage and thank all those involved in this ongoing project, the young leaders and children obviously, but also the adults volunteers whose energy drives the project, who supervise the sessions and train the young leaders and the volunteers who have gathered and created all the learning materials being used. Also those individuals and organisations who help to fund these sessions including the Farthing Trust and Just Trust who contribute regularly to Diapalante’s ongoing overheads and the British and Foreign Schools Society who have helped to fund this project.
As the weather won’t let you forget, it’s that time of year again: summertime! Although nowhere near as hot as Senegal, I hope you are all making the most of the British sun. Sadly for me however, this also means that my year in Kaolack with Diapalante is drawing to an end. There’s no doubt that I am heartbroken to be leaving the centre, and all my new friends and family here, but I am also filled with gratitude to everyone who made this experience possible. It is one of the very few instances where unforgettable isn’t an exaggeration – both the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned here will be with me for the rest of my life. I will never be able to completely cover everything I have gained from this year, nor what I have given. However, here is a small selection:
- Self-Confidence – Being a teacher, and taking charge of a class, will always require a certain amount of self-assurance. However, working at the centre requires a lot more. The nature of the centre means that lessons cannot always be prepared in advance, but you still need to have the confidence to control the class. Throughout the year, teaching at Diapalante has allowed me to develop my confidence enormously, allowing me to be at ease no matter the situation (and no matter the amount of preparation I’ve done!).
- English – My year in Senegal has made me realise how lucky I am to have English as my first language. It is so easy to take for granted the knowledge that there will be people who speak the same language as you all over the world, and the doors that that communication can open. I am so glad that I have been able to help other people benefit from my language. Knowing English is something which can give people a multitude of opportunities, and I’m happy I have been able to give the chance to access that.
- Responsibility – Working at the centre, I was put into positions of responsibility over many people, some of whom were older than me. Although definitely a challenge (especially after coming straight from high school!), it was a challenge which made me grow much more as a person. It made me more confident taking charge, but it also made me more sensitive to other people, and their needs. I know that, had I been in a position with less responsibility, I would not have grown nearly as much as I have during this year.
- Family – Although very cliché, I have been incredibly lucky to have found an amazing family here in Senegal. As well as Master P and his family, I truly see the members of Diapalante Centre, all of the friends I have made in and out of Kaolack, and even previous Diapalante volunteers, as one large family. Everywhere I have been I have been welcomed with open arms. It will be heartbreaking to say goodbye to everyone, but I know that I will always have a home here.
Here at Diapalante, we are very lucky to have a small collection of Lego in the library. Lego, and other games like it, are quite often overlooked in Britain in terms of education, but I’ve found this year that it can be a versatile tool to teach a vast number of subjects – and nobody is ever too old to enjoy Lego! You can use it to teach everything from basic maths, and English and French vocabulary, to complicated science and engineering. Kids (and adults) of all ages love to use it in any and every lesson. And, of course, it is invaluable to occupy kids too young to join in the lesson of the day! Nothing quite keeps kids calm and focused like Lego!
Everyone at Diapalante had a lot of fun creating our very own t-shirts! We used iron-on decals to print the Diapalante logo onto white t-shirts, and after some experimentation we perfected it, and create our very own Diapalante Centre T-shirt!
Celebrated every year on the 5th June, World Environment Day is organised by the United Nations to help raise awareness for the protection of the environment. Every year the campaign has a theme – this year’s theme was ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’, encouraging people to reduce their use of disposable plastics.
Here at Diapalante, we wanted to educate our members about the environment, and why it’s important to look after it! Two of our younger members (Abdou, age 14, and Fallou, age 14) lead a discussion about the environment, covering everything from what exactly the environment is, to why it is our responsibility to protect it. This involved members of all ages, and everyone had the chance to contribute and learn something new!
We incorporated the day into our other lessons, specifically IT. For some of the younger kids, we had a typing race, where they had to retype out a text about World Environment Day. The first person to finish with less than five errors won, and safe to say the atmosphere got very competitive!
Here at Diapalante, we try to teach across all the subjects, often covering different ones at the same time. As part of our theme of citizenship, some of the members had the opportunity to improve both their English and their IT skills by responding to the question, ‘Why was the Diapalante Centre created?’. Here is the response from Fallou Diop, aged 15;
Diapalante is a national educational centre where there are lots of students. At the same time, it allows us to do lots of things like: maths lessons, English lessons and French lessons.
- I come nearly every day to Diapalante sometimes when I have difficult work, I come here to search the answers, I am not the only person who does this.
- The reason why Diapalante was created is: Diapalante is an educational association which is in England. Diapalante was created to help the children with their educational system and also with their behaviour.
- We must all like Diapalante because it is it which helps us to do all our work at school. Me personally I like Diapalante because it’s thanks to it that I have improved well.
- For me, we must always help Tata Corran and Tonton P because it’s thanks to them that we have improved well.
- In my future, I would like to help Diapalante to be more famous and more educational.
Here in Senegal, we are in the middle of the month-long celebration of Ramadan. This means that for the next month, all Muslims who are physically able will be neither eating nor drinking between 5am and 7pm. This includes Master P and a large majority of the members at Diapalante, and I have been fasting along with them most days! For me, it has been both an amazing opportunity to better understand Islam and a great way to feel close to the community. However, not eating or drinking at all during the day obviously has several consequences for the centre!
First of all, we have changed our opening hours. Like before, we still open at 11am. However, as nobody will be cooking/eating lunch, we no longer close for lunch time. Instead, we have an hour’s rest at 2pm, when no lessons are taught, but the centre is still open. We also close a lot earlier, at roughly 5pm, to let people get home in time to break the fast at 7! As well as practical reasons, the reduction in hours has another advantage; during Ramadan, everyone is (quite rightly) a lot more tired than before. Fasting all day can increase fatigue and decrease concentration in both pupils and teachers, and lots of our older students are also doing exams at school! This means that the members, although still keen to learn, are often very exhausted. To distract them from their hunger, we often play some simple and fun games, like Ludo and maths colouring in during the quieter periods!