My name is Assiatu Pongolani and I am a CorpsAfrica Volunteer serving in Southern Senegal, or commonly known as Alouga in my Diola community. I am part of the second cohort of Volunteers in Senegal, after being a part of the first group of CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteers last year. I still believe in the same CorpsAfrica Core Values of locals helping locals to combat poverty in Africa. This passion of community development is what drives me to be here in Senegal as it is part of exploring my life. Getting professional skills, personal skills, knowledge, as well as understanding on how the world works and its perspectives towards development is something I care deeply about. While in Senegal being part of this community and learning the Diola language and traditions is something that I am proud of and will have stories to tell in future.
This second journey with CorpsAfrica started in 2017 when I was accepted to serve here in Senegal. It took me a lot of thinking and asking family and friends for advice if it was really a good idea for me. Coming to serve a year in a French country with not any French background would certainly be a challenge. Luckily, my friends and family were supportive and so I decided to accept my invitation to serve for a second time.
The journey really began as soon as I arrived in Western Africa. Going through the Human Centered Design Training (which was a bit challenging with French), getting to know all the current CorpsAfrica Volunteers, and meeting the alumni was all a part of CorpsAfrica’s plans to prepare me for my site, which I now call home. Living in a Francophone country has taken a lot of effort as I don’t have any French language background like I mentioned above. So, I’ve been integrating by learning the local language and being involved in the community activities and cerebrations. This all goes back to the passion, motivation and willingness to learn new things and accepting the challenging moments that arise. Since my goal is to serve this vulnerable community with facilitating successful projects, every day is worth the challenge, because in the end I know this community will be a better place.
As it is my first blog, please follow my blogs for this whole year to get updated on what I am up to in my small village in Ziguinchor Region. Until next time I say: Jerejef!! (Means thank you in Wolof).