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Volunteer

 

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Welcome to all future, former, and potential volunteers of the Daara de Malika!

 

    Each year, dozens of volunteers from all around the world bring their time, energy, and ideas to the Daara de Malika in order to live and work with the school’s children. This allows the children residing at the Daara to have a better understanding of foreign cultures while also providing them with a window into a world they may not otherwise have access to. 

    Furthermore, the volunteers who spend time at the Daara open themselves up to a rich and rewarding experience, in which they discover new skills and aspects of themselves while also deepening their sense of social-conscientiousness and appreciation for cultural diversity.

    It is thus clear that everyone is to benefit in a wide variety of ways thanks to the presence of volunteers at the Daara de Malika.

    Dedicated volunteers are essential to the Daara’s ongoing operations, and there are several different ways to become involved at this level:

    School Staff:

    All personnel at the Daara de Malika give generously of their time, skills, and energy as volunteers. But it must be noted that in a country where more than half the population lives below the poverty line – that is to say on less than one dollar per day – it is far too difficult for most people to engage in volunteer work, or at least not in the strictest sense of the term. It is for this reason that we give our employees a small monthly allowance to help offset transportation expenses and other household costs.

    International Volunteers:

    Since 2004, the Daara has benefited from the contribution of many international volunteers from Belgium, France, Italy, and Canada, as throughout the year volunteers of all ages come to the school to lead children in Math and French courses as well as other artistic and athletic activities.

    Long-Distance Volunteers:

    The Daara relies on the contribution of many volunteers from Africa, Europe, North America, and beyond who are involved in many different ways and work to support the Daara within their own communities.

    ――

    Do you wish to make a difference in our world? Are you interested in other cultures? Would you like to take part in daily life with our Senegalese brothers and sisters? Well then perhaps becoming a volunteer at the Daara de Malika is right for you!

    Of course, volunteering in Senegal is a significant undertaking that may raise a whirlwind of questions in your mind! In order to provide you with as much information as possible about what this experience entails, we have prepared the following list of frequently asked questions:

    Who can be a volunteer at the Daara de Malika?

    Any person who is at least 18 years old, in good health, and motivated to offer their time and services can be a volunteer.

    What steps must I take in order to become a volunteer at the Daara de Malika?

    You must first write to the email address of the Daara de Malika (daaramalika@gmail.com) and notify us of your intention to become a volunteer. Be sure to specify which dates you have in mind for your stay.

    Secondly, please write a letter of motivation explaining the reasons compelling you to volunteer at the Daara and attach a CV detailing your past employment experiences and volunteer work, if applicable.

    You will receive a response shortly informing you of the status of your application and, if accepted, will then begin the preparation phase of your trip.

    All volunteers are asked to submit a report within the thirty days following the end of their trip. We may be contacted at the email address above for more information regarding the report’s details, structure, and content.

    What fees and expenses must be paid in order to become a volunteer?

    All volunteers are required to pay for any costs associated with travelling, such as a plane ticket, visa (if you wish to stay for a period longer than 90 days), valid passport, vaccinations, medication, and personal expenses.

    As a result of the rising cost of food in Senegal, volunteers are also asked to pay a fee of $1 per day ($1CAD per day for Canadian volunteers, $1USD per day for American volunteers, €1 per day for European volunteers) to offset daily food costs.

    How long can the duration of my stay be?

    There is no minimum or maximum limit imposed on the duration of your stay. However, we feel that a stay lasting less than one month will not necessarily allow you to make a significant contribution to the Daara. One month goes by very quickly, especially when considering the time required to adapt to the new way of life.

    What sanitary conditions will I find at the Daara de Malika?

    The Daara is equipped with running water, which is pumped to faucets from a well. You will thus have no difficulty bathing and washing hands and clothes. As for drinking water, it is strongly recommended to purchase bottled mineral water in order to avoid the potential health risks posed by well water. Although bottled water must be purchased by the volunteer, it is available in nearby stores at reasonable prices ($3CAD or €2 for a 10 litre jug).

    The Daara is also equipped with seated toilets (as opposed to the squat variety) and solar-powered electricity.

    Do I need any special vaccinations?  
     
    Most volunteers will need to receive certain vaccinations before traveling, depending upon which ones have already been received in the past. The Yellow Fever vaccination is required for all travelers entering Senegal, and it is strongly recommended to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and typhoid. For more information, you should contact your local travel clinic as soon as possible before departure.

    Furthermore, the volunteer must purchase and bring anti-malarial medication in order to avoid further health risks.

    What must I bring with me to the Daara de Malika?

    You must bring normal necessities associated with any trip, such as medication (particularly anti-malarial tablets), personal hygiene products, light clothing with bright colours and long sleeves (to avoid attracting mosquitoes), a sweater or pullover (for those staying between January and May), and so on.

    If you have special dietary requests or are allergic to certain food products (such as peanuts), you must advise the Daara before departure so that appropriate preparations can be made. We have already welcomed a volunteer at the Daara who had severe peanut allergies, and he did not experience any problems during the course of his stay. However, all such volunteers must be extremely vigilant, as Senegal is a major peanut producer and its products are widely-available in streets and stores.

    Volunteers are not required to bring a sleeping bag with them, as all bedrooms and dormitories are already furnished with sheets and pillows.

    Do I need to bring a mosquito net with me?

    No, a mosquito net has already been installed above each bed.

    What can I do to prepare myself for this sort of experience abroad?

    Reading these FAQs is the first step towards preparing yourself for your trip. It is also recommended to become informed about the current situation in your country of destination, as well as the customs, beliefs, and languages practiced there. A travel guide (such as those offered by Lonely Planet) can be quite helpful in this regard.

    You are also advised to reflect upon your motivations and expectations for this trip, as well as what your personal strengths and weaknesses may be. You will also be put in contact with former volunteers who have spent time at the Daara de Malika and who can help respond to your questions and concerns.

    What exactly will I be able to do at the Daara de Malika?

    Your personal contribution depends entirely upon your own skills and what you feel you can offer the Daara. You are welcome to work with the children by organizing cultural, artistic, and athletic activities, or you can also engage in projects involving health, the environment, or any other issue of your choosing.

    How will I get to the Daara upon my arrival in Senegal?

    You must first send us all information regarding your flight number and arrival time so that we can arrange to have you picked up at the airport and subsequently transferred to the Daara. The Daara de Malika is located less than an hour’s drive away from the international airport in Dakar.

    Are there staff members on premises?

    Yes, the Daara de Malika’s Secrety-General, Mme. Maryse Fall, lives in Dakar and is responsible for the general support and coordination of school staff. There are also 21 staff members currently at the Daara de Malika itself, and they oversee everything from children supervision to cooking to teaching.

    However, it should be noted that volunteers must be able to work autonomously, take their own initiatives, and be creative in order to implement the activities of their choosing.

    What do we eat at the Daara de Malika?

    As a volunteer living at the Daara de Malika, you will be served three meals per day along with the staff and children living at the school. Breakfast usually consists of bread and coffee, porridge, or a traditional dish called sombie, a sweetened mixture of rice and milk.

    Served at the lunch hour, the main meal of the day always consists of rice along with a variety of fish, meat, vegetables, or sauces.

    The evening meal may vary between rice served with smoked fish, tuna and pasta noodles, and other dishes. For those who may desire other meals, it is recommended to plan a budget in order to purchase sandwiches, canned foods, or other snacks, which are all widely-available outside school grounds.

    Fewer vegetables are available in Senegal during the months from May to September. Because the Daara does not have the financial resources necessary to purchase large quantities of imported vegetables, you are recommended to bring multivitamin tablets in order to ensure a balanced diet.

    Will I be able to communicate with family and friends back home while at the Daara?

    Yes, you will be able to communicate quite easily with friends and family around the world. There are several Internet cafés located within a short walking distance of the Daara, and connections are generally both reliable and affordable (€0.30 or $0.50CAD per hour). A cell phone is also made available to volunteers, and you will be able to charge it with credit available in nearby stores. Receiving mail by post is not recommended, as there is no guarantee that packages will arrive and lengthy delivery times are often the norm.

    How many hours per week will I be required to work? Will I have vacations or time off?

    There are no fixed schedules and your work times will be very flexible, as you will usually be able to plan and arrange your day as you wish. Many volunteers use their weekends as free time to engage in any activities of their choosing, and you may even take a further couple of days off to visit the country, so long as notification of your plans is given in advance

    How many foreign volunteers are there at the Daara de Malika?

    The number of volunteers at the Daara de Malika varies throughout the year. There are fewer volunteers from September to April than from May to August, for this period of summer vacation in Europe and North America sees an influx of volunteers.

    My parents are concerned about my safety in Africa. What can I do to reassure them?

    You can tell them that the Daara de Malika is situated in an entirely secure compound with concrete block fencing, two iron gates, locking doors, barred windows, a night guard, and many adult staff members and supervisors. Senegal is, in general, a stable and peaceful country, as violent crimes are quite rare and personal safety is not usually a problem. Most Western governments publish updated travel reports to inform their citizens of the current political climate and security conditions in other countries.

    As for your personal health, it is up to you to take the necessary precautions including vaccinations and medication. It is certainly possible to become sick anywhere in the world, but if basic health precautions are taken then there is no reason why your trip shouldn’t be trouble-free.

    If you or your parents have specific questions relating to your health and safety in Senegal, then please send us an email at daaramalika@gmail.com and we will do our best to respond to you as soon as possible.

    You may also contact the Secretary-General of the Daara de Malika, Mme. Maryse Fall, at the following phone numbers: 
    International Calling Code (011 in Canada, 00 in France) + 221.77.565.3121 (Cell Phone) 
    International Calling Code (011 in Canada, 00 in France) + 221.33.822.9494 (Office Landline)

    What can I do to become involved in the Daara from home? 
     
    First of all, you should inform us of your desire to contribute from home by writing us an email. Your involvement will depend entirely upon what you feel you can offer the Daara. This could include any sort of fundraising activities, helping publicise the Daara, speaking with potential volunteers, and so on.

    At what frequency will I be able to contribute?

    According to your own availabilities.

    Could this count as a form of community service for a school club or organisation?

    Absolutely. It is possible to organise a club or committee to support the Daara from anywhere in the world.

    ――

    If you have any further questions relating to the Daara de Malika, then please contact us at the following address: daaramalike@gmail.com. It will be our pleasure to respond to you as soon as possible.

    The Volunteer’s Forum unfortunately had to be deactivated due to technological problems.

This page has been created in order to help volunteers come together and work towards a world of solidarity and understanding between peoples of different cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds. By coming together around the “Universal Table of Giving and Receiving”, we aim towards the great dream of the poet, President, and founding father of Daara, Léopold Sédar Senghor: to give, share, and live together in unity.
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