February was a month of visitors here at Diapalante. Polly’s parents were the first, arriving at the end of January. Shona, Polly’s mum, spent a productive Saturday morning at the centre, using her skills as a fashion designer to help fix one of the members sewing machines. She also tested her times tables with some of the younger members, and we’re not sure who enjoyed the competition more!
The next week, Liz and Ian, Diapalante trustees, arrived for their annual month-long visit, and were welcomed back into the centre with open arms. They got straight to work, applying their expertise to everything from repairing computers to fixing broken doors and testing out 70-year-old sewing machines! Liz has also been working with one of the members, Mor Talla, teaching him about the setup and upkeep of our network of almost 20 computers. Mor Talla is keen to become a computer specialist, and so this training will give him an opportunity to develop his skills and knowledge (as well as giving Diapalante Centre a resident computer technician!). Liz and Ian have also had the chance to help out in a more hands on way; they have participated in multiple English lessons, using their skills as native English speakers to lend a helping hand to any member that wanted it. They have also been indispensible in demonstrating this months theme of ‘art and culture’, introducing the members to such quintesentially British things as loose-leaf breakfast tea and accordian music!
Project Trust, who place the two gap year volunteers at the Centre, visit all the projects they partner once a year. Their Africa desk officer, Niall, was the next visitor, and is pictured here with Corran
The final visitors in February were Corran’s family. Her parents and brother spent several days at the centre, getting to know the members and helping out. David, Corran’s father, used his skills as a maths teacher to help various members of all ages with their maths work. They all also helped out in the English lessons, giving more members the opportunity to practice their language with a native speaker. The whole family had their fortunes told as part of an English lesson, below is Corran’s turn.
On the family’s final day in the centre, we decided to impart a very important part of Scottish culture onto the members; ceilidh dancing. After a warm-up game of musical chairs, with Ian on his accordian, we started to teach some of the more simple dances. Although some members started off quite shy, eventually everyone got very involved, and had loads of fun. And then the roles switched, and a local dance teacher tried to teach us Senegalese dancing. It was considerably less successful than the first round, but everyone had lots of fun, and it was a brilliant send-off for Corran’s family.