WHAT WILL YOU DO AS A VOLUNTEER?
We suggest five areas for your contributions to Maison de la Gare:
As an organization working to improve the quality of life of the talibé children, MDG is committed to improving their hygiene and medical care
Working as a volunteer in this area requires dynamism, willingness and sensitivity. You will be in continuous contact with talibé children in MDG’s centre and in the daaras where the children live, responding to urgent health needs and supporting general improvement of their health and well being.
Requirements – Healthcare and Hygiene
- Be willing and eager to patiently and appropriately help children suffering medical distress
- Have basic first-aid training
- Be capable of taking charge in an emergency of a child suffering from a wound or sickness
Always be aware of the potential impact that your reactions can have on children in a vulnerable situation. You will have to be strongly rooted in your personal humanitarian values, as the situations that you encounter will often be distressing and complicated.
Arts and music can make a major contribution to the growth and psychological development of the talibé children, helping them with communication and self-expression.
Volunteers who want to contribute to this program must be passionate about working with children, and have a solid base in teaching art or music and a well developed creative sense. This program also includes organizing excursions which allow the children to discover new horizons and experiences, and volunteers who have previously organized and monitored groups of children will be very much appreciated.
Requirements – Art, Music and Excursions
- Previous experience working with children
- Good mastery of methods and tools for communicating through expressive media such as drawing and music
- Strong skills in communicating with children, and good interpersonal and organizational abilities
- Experience and knowledge of child development is a strong positive
Remember that educational success is very dependent on continuity and consistency. Your involvement in creative activities with the children will inevitably result in strong feelings of attachment. Although creativity is encouraged, please be aware that, when you leave, your approach may leave with you. Always use resources and materials that are available locally.
Maison de la Gare’s centre is not only a site for study and learning, it is a refuge for the talibé children. It is a place where they must feel at home, and our objective is that they will find everything there necessary to foster their growth and development.
To work as a volunteer in this area, you should have some experience and skills in maintenance, construction and repairs. Knowledge of gardening is very desirable, as the centre’s garden is playing a major role in our struggle to eliminate begging and provide the talibé children with skills for the future.
Requirements – Gardening and Site Development
- Renovation skills: painting, construction and repairs
- A sincere interest in gardening, and related knowledge and experience
- Ability to work supportively and respectfully with children
- A good decorating sense would be a strong positive
All of your development work in MDG’s centre will be in close collaboration with talibé children. You must be as receptive as possible to suggestions and support from the children, as it is really for them that you are working. They will learn valuable life skills through working with you and seeing your accomplishments.
As Senegal’s official language, French is taught to all children in state schools from an early age. However, most talibé children do not have this opportunity, as education in the daaras is restricted to memorizing the Koran. The children’s resulting inability to speak, read and write in French leaves them with inadequate language skills for finding a productive place in society.
At Maison de la Gare, we introduce the talibé children to elements of the Senegalese primary cycle: French, mathematics, civic instruction, and recitation and singing. As a volunteer, you will work under the supervision of a local teacher. It is important for volunteers to remember that, while the scholastic development of these children has been extremely limited, they have the ability and “savoir faire” to respond well to creative teaching methods. Keep in mind that continuity and quality of education go hand-in-hand. Volunteers are here to support the learning process, and they can make an enormous contribution through bringing originality and new ideas to the daily routine, making education more accessible for the children.
Requirements – Education
- Excellent written and oral French
- A passion and an aptitude for working with children
- Experience with teaching or tutoring would be a strong positive
Innovation and creativity are welcomed as long as they do not interfere with regular educational activities. If there are problems to report, please do so directly and discreetly with one of the Senegalese teachers or a member of the MDG staff.
Sports are a huge part of Senegalese culture and an important element of daily life. Soccer (football) and wresting are the most popular, and they attract an enormous following
Maison de la Gare’s sports program is concerned with providing the talibé children with a healthful outlet for physical activity, but also with giving them a rare opportunity to play and enjoy themselves as children. We organize regular soccer matches and local championships for talibé children of all ages, in sports fields around the city. Volunteers interested in contributing to this program should have previous experience working with children in sporting activities.
Requirements – Sports
- Experience working with children involved in physical activities, preferably in sports education
- Knowledge of safety requirements of organized sports, and an ability to take precautions necessary to minimize risk of injuries
- Excellent interpersonal and organizational skills
- Good physical condition is desirable
Sports are not only a recreational activity, but also a means to foster team work and an improved sense of self. Although there are competitive aspects to all sports, you should give priority to encouraging cohesion between the boys. Minimize the risk of encouraging hurtful behaviour among them.