If you are staying in The Gambia and you really want to do something useful with your time here and you are looking for an outstanding experience then you need look no further.
If you didn’t book your trip yet, than check our website and Travel as a volunteer program!
There are many ways you can help children in Africa. Volunteering is just one them. Choosing an appropriate volunteer work is very important for the volunteer’s satisfaction, but also for charities and people who help them. If you have any experiences working with children or you just want to give hand, than join us!
In the Gambia, we offer volunteering opportunities in local schools or kindergartens for children from unprivileged families, aged from three to six years and from seven to 12 years old. through humanitarian organization Charity Pearl which has volunteering experiences in The Gambia since 2012. Coordinator of volunteers is present in the schools all year around, observing needs and difficulties, contributing in development, following the Gambian school system and exchanging the knowledge.
You can choose between daily visits or you can devote more of your time for volunteering with us.
We do not want international volunteers to take on jobs meant for local teachers, we only wish to relieve them of some of the gruelling hours that they spend in a full classroom, to exchange knowledge and discuss long-term solutions for the future. In addition, we want to get the people acquainted with the actual situation in The Gambia, so that they could help in their own way even after they return home. The number of applications for volunteers is limited, as a large number of volunteer does not mean an easier way of solving the problems. We strive towards doing the best possible job that we can, to make a change and to get visible results.
You can volunteer in The Gambia all year around. The only time limited dates are around summer if you choose to volunteer in the school. Schools are closed from mid July until October. For 2 years now, there are summer camps organized by Charity Pearl so, if you spending time in The Gambia through summer, you can join the summer school dedicated for poor children.
VOLUNTEERS’ AGE IS NOT IMPORTANT
We accept volunteers of all ages (adults). Due to the specificity of the work and activities, we are primarily searching for people with experience in working with school-age children as well as those who attend kindergarten; people that have experience in working with children with disabilities, and people who have experience working with children but are not professionally qualified. Volunteers with basic knowledge in the field of pedagogy must enjoy the work and have a knack for working with susceptible children.
We are flexible when it comes to carrying out new projects, developing your ideas, for innovating the field in which we work ourselves and in which you work as well.
Our sole aim is to educate the children and thereby increase their employment opportunities, to teach them that the quality of life depends on education, and to teach them to opt for parenthood in a more mature age. Beside all this, our presence shows them that there are still people in this world that care about them.
In practice, there are different options to choose from.
You can choose one class in one of our schools or kindergartens where you will remain throughout the entire time of your volunteer work. Each teacher has his or her own way of working, so it is important that the volunteer adapt as soon as possible. It is important that you get to know the children in the class as soon as possible, to know their characteristics, and that you let them get to know you. If any of the teachers is absent for an hour or a day, the volunteers can teach the classes on their own upon prior agreement with coordinator and school management. The most important for your work is that you are flexible, resourceful and are able to organize the work in the classroom, to animate kids so that they will listen to you and participate and to help to a local teacher with her daily plans of lessons.
You can volunteer in different schools together with Charity Pearl’s volunteering team. In cooperation with Norwegian program for grade one children, we teach through stories, songs and different activities. In 2014/15 academic year they have been collaborating with six government schools. The plan for 2015/16 academic school is to add more schools to the program.
From October 2015 you can volunteer in Charity Pearl’s educational center where you will help to a small group of children which are coming from poor families that can’t afford extra classes for their children. It is an individual help and has a bigger effect for smaller groups of children. More information about educational center coming soon.
REQUIREMENTS THAT VOLUNTEERS MUST MEET
We believe that personal involvement and knowing the project is extremely important for volunteer work. Our involvement has a positive impact on local communities and sustainable development of the local environment. For volunteering in local schools and kindergartens in The Gambia we do not look for specific professional experience or higher education; instead we are looking for enthusiasm, perseverance and compassion. Speaking English language is a must (we do not require native or fluent English speaking volunteers), while knowledge of any other foreign language is an added bonus. It is imperative that you are healthy and vaccinated.
In addition you should:
– be at least 18 years of age,
– be willing to work and live in similar circumstances as your local colleagues,
– be willing to learn the basics of the local language,
– share your experience with volunteer work and inspire others after returning home.
Other desirable skills
Volunteers must have certain personality traits, if they want to be efficient. Flexibility, self-confidence and a sense for problem solving are the main characteristics that you must have. In addition, you need to excel at teamwork and to be able to listen to the needs of others. Most volunteers want to help others to learn, and to learn themselves. Although it may sometimes be faster to do the job yourself, your job will be, in many cases, to teach the others to achieve greater impact. Do not worry you have not had the opportunity to use the skills mentioned for some time or if you are not sure of your strengths. We organize assessment days where we get to know you a bit better to figure out what you can contribute.
Never forget that you are a guest in the country you are visiting and that you volunteered to help in kindergarten, which means that it is necessary to help in a manner we ask you too and where we ask. If you want to help, where see fit in the way that we do not approve, then you are not a suitable candidate to volunteer in our project. However, it does not mean that you should not express your opinion and not to share your experience with us.
Next to speaking an English language, having a combination of professional and soft skills, being flexible and healthy, there are also other important characteristics: adaptability, patience, independence, positive attitude, resourcefulness, responsibility, sense of humour… All these features are can be a good help in overcoming culture shock, which even the most experienced travelers or a volunteers go through.
Adaptability: You must be able to adjust to new situations, which you will encounter, as a volunteer. You need to have a positive attitude towards people, which you will help, live and work with. These people will probably see you as just as exotic as you see them and the new environment. In addition, you will have to get used to a lot less privacy than you are used to at home. Sometimes it can feel very crammed.
Patience: This type of work is not suitable for those looking for quick fixes and instant results. You need patience and creativity to gain trust and establish good relationships with people in the community and that takes time.
Abilities: You have decided to volunteer and meet the conditions of the country to which you are travelling. We prepare you to do the work by acquainting you with the local language, culture, habits and needs. For some projects, you will need certain additional skills and training. The country, mentors and local communities will help you develop those skills.
Independency: Although you might think that volunteers never work alone, sometimes it can feel very lonely. It may happen that you are the only volunteer in the community, which means that you will have to overcome the language barrier and face the challenges of a new environment. Community will accept you with open arms, but at first, you will have to dedicate your time to the little things, like remembering people’s names, and familiarizing yourself with the environment, in which you will live. A great deal of self-confidence and independence will help you in difficult times, when you are in doubt and faced with difficult situations.
Positive attitude: Tasks and work will probably be less structured than what you are used to. The workflow can vary from chaotic to peaceful from one day to another. A positive attitude will you help you through those situations.
Flexibility: As a volunteer you will likely work in an environment that is very different from your own. Flexibility and the abandonment of expectations will allow you to meet the challenges and difficulties when accessing running water, electricity and other resources. Your accommodation will be safe, though modest. Remember that in many countries the way you dress is a sign (or lack) of respect. Therefore, it is necessary to observe certain local standards for the locals to accept you.
Resourcefulness: People who try to adapt to new circumstances and cultures often experience unexpected emotional conditions: loneliness and isolation, uncertainty, homesickness and doubting the level of dedication. Being resourceful will help you to work with what you have, to remain open and overcome the challenges.
Responsibility: As a volunteer, you are responsible for the quality of your work. You should also observe the general rules to stay safe and healthy. For example, volunteers may not drive a car in certain countries or may not leave the area, in which they work, without prior notice. These rules are sensible and should be followed.
Sense of humour: The ability to laugh at your own expense and to small surprises in life is very favourable. Engaging in voluntary work is a never-ending learning process. The sense of humour and a positive attitude will help you to learn from your mistakes without judgement.
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
We want to ensure your skills are matching needs of our local project so that you can benefit from The Gambia as much as possible. For successful volunteering you must collaborate with humanitarian organization Charity Pearl The Gambia. They play an important role in coordinating with organizations and volunteers on behalf of this partnership. They implement many functions, such as identifying and determining opportunities for voluntary work and developing projects that benefit local communities.
In addition, they appoint the tasks for volunteers, prepare them for carrying out these tasks, ensure to control and host them. Activities can be performed individually or in a group for shorter or longer periods. Activities can range from 14 days to 6 months and more. Voluntary work covers many areas such as culture, sport, social security, the arts, education, development…All share the same aspect – intercultural learning. A question that most ask at some point before they become volunteers: Can one person really make a difference? The answer is “yes”. Though only if the right person is in the right place at the right time.
HOW TO APPLY FOR VOLUNTEER WORK IN OUR PROJECT
The first step is to fill in the application form. It will take a few minutes and give you the opportunity to tell us more about yourself, including about the required knowledge, experience and qualifications.
Each volunteer has unique set of experience and skills – they can be professional or not. You may have worked in small firms, have experience in working with young children, practical skills such as cooking; you may be qualified as a teacher or lecturer, as a nurse in pediatrics… Each volunteer is considered individually, ensuring the best possible match of your strengths with the needs of our projects.
If you are suited for work on our project in The Gambia, you will be asked to meet coordinator. This short meeting will help them to learn more about why you want to work with them and as well they will advice you and give you tips how to prepare yourself before starting to volunteer.
DESCRIPTION OF A TYPICAL DAY
We believe that volunteers deserve the best support available, so our local representatives have their job cut out for them. Our volunteers live and work in the heart of the community. Like that, you can gain a real insight into local customs and challenges, which also allows you to be accepted by the community.
Monday to Thursday from 08:30 – 13:30
Friday from 08:30 – 12:00
Extra classes available for children who need more attention and an individual approach. Remedial classes are carried out solely by volunteers. For the duration of your work at school you will need to bring your lunch and water with you or you buy it in the shop close to school.
We expect you to bring new ideas to our projects, share experiences, to help solving current problems, be innovative and be committed to the program.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need more information or you are ready to join us! Send an e-mail at email@example.com