Projects Abroad in Senegal
Many volunteers arrive in Dakar, Senegal's capital, late at night. If this is the case, you will be welcomed at the airport by a member of Projects Abroad staff and be taken straight to a nearby hotel to get a good night's rest. The following morning you will head by taxi to Dakar's bustling 'gare routière', from where you take a 'sept-places' shared taxi to our base in St Louis. A member of our staff will accompany you throughout. The journey takes four to five hours and will take you past fields of enormous, ancient baobab trees.
On arrival in St Louis you'll be taken to meet your host family and see the place you'll call home for the next few months. A staff member will introduce you to your family and ensure that you feel at ease before leaving you to unpack and share your first home-cooked Senegalese meal. Please do not expect the level of comfort that you are used to at home - there is unlikely to be hot running water for example; however we monitor all our hosts regularly to ensure that standards of security and cleanliness are adhered to.
The following day you will be met at your host family by a member of staff, you'll visit our office and be taken on an induction tour of St Louis. This will help you to get your bearings and ensure that you are familiar with how to find the post office, internet café and so on. We will make sure that you change some money if you haven't done so already, and also get you a local SIM card for your phone. You'll also be shown how to use local transport. Before we leave you in the evening we'll make sure you know the way back to your host family. Most new volunteers are also welcomed with a drink or two in town later in the evening, where you will be able to meet fellow volunteers.
The next morning you'll be picked up by a member of Projects Abroad staff and taken to meet your supervisor at your placement. During this meeting your timetable will be decided and you can ask any questions you have about your role at work. Depending on how you're feeling and the type of placement, you may start work that same day or return the following day to start properly.
The Projects Abroad staff in Senegal will continue to monitor you throughout your placement and will make periodic visits to your home. All staff and volunteers meet socially once a month, at dinners and other social events organised by Projects Abroad. With St Louis being a small place, you will regularly see our staff members out and about in town too. Our staff are all available 24 hours a day by phone and should be your first point of contact for any problem.
You will generally be working from Monday to Friday, with occasional Saturday morning hours. At weekends volunteers often relax on nearby beaches, travel to wildlife parks or down to Dakar, or even take a trip into the Mauritanian desert. Other recent volunteer trips have taken in The Gambia and Guinea Bissau. If you have extra travel time at the end of your placement, and an adventurous spirit, it's possible to travel as far as Ghana via Mali, a journey which would definitely give you something to talk about when you get home!