This year, Y Care International plans to send around 200 young volunteers from the UK to Senegal, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Bangladesh. These young volunteers will gain valuable experience while contributing to development projects tackling poverty in local communities.
They will not do this alone. Every one of them will work side by side with another young volunteer from the community where they are based. These young people provide invaluable support to the UK volunteers – while gaining skills that can help them secure work in the future.
Jemma from the UK is currently working with Daba from Senegal in and around the town of Kaolack.
Daba: Working together makes us stronger and when one of us needs help, the other is there for her.
Jemma: My life in Senegal would not be the same without Daba! Even though our first languages differ, I quickly realised our similarities outweigh our differences. She has taught me the dos and don’ts of behaviour in Senegal, and we have learnt together how to communicate in a way that sometimes involves gestures, but is always funny.
Daba: I’ve learned how to work with someone I didn’t know before and I’ve also found out about UK culture.
Jemma: This mix of ideas and working styles means that the working day is always varied and challenging. The Senegalese volunteers have invaluable knowledge of local areas and of the specific issues they face here. Both the English and Senegalese have gained insight into each other’s cultures that will stay with them for life.
Tolerance, open mindedness and adaptability are all qualities we will take home with us.
Jemma: My proudest and most hard hitting moment was when we visited SiBassor community to hold a workshop on malaria and neglected tropical illnesses. After the discussion, one of the women invited us into her home to speak to her daughter. She had wanted to attend the workshop, yet was unable to as she has been a victim of malaria and was wheelchair bound because of this. It was at this moment that I realised that we were raising awareness on serious health issues that have a real and profound impact on the community.
Daba: I was feeling ill on the day of our talk and so I really didn’t think I would do well. But it was the most incredible success I’ve ever had!