Written by CorpsAfrica/Senegal Exchange Volunteer Mr. Abdelkader Kadfi
The story began last year, during my service as a Volunteer in my country, Morocco, with CorpsAfrica. Adnane Sounni visited us during the IST (In-Service-Training) and presented about his experience as a Volunteer with CorpsAfrica/Senegal. In his presentation, he told us about people and their sympathy and kindness, and also about the staff and the Volunteers. In his description, I felt that he had many deep emotions and feelings. He finished his presentation by sharing a picture with the people of his village and told us that he started crying when he left them.
Being a Volunteer is not easy, and that is why many people think that is a “waste” of time and for free, but the most important thing they don’t know is that you are serving yourself, by discovering new land, new culture, new skills… “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck.
After passing the interview and being accepted, the 05 November I arrived to Dakar, I found Mareme Ndour, her husband, and Assiatu (Exchange Volunteer from Malawi) waiting for me. I was very happy to meet them.
I lived with a host family in Dakar; it was a good opportunity to discover the Senegalese kitchen and many ideas about people here. The next day I went to the office to meet all the staff. They welcomed me and were too kind with me. I started taking some courses of Wolof language before starting the PST.
Assiatu and I visited many places in Dakar; we also visited the Goree Island. ‘The house of slaves’ is a good place to discover the ‘dark ‘era of humanity and how people were treated like animals and tortured. The stories that happened in that time were horrible to imagine. The responsible of the house told us about the story of the island and showed us many rooms that were used for the slaves.
We moved to Thiès on 10 November to start the Pre-Service-Training, where I met the others Volunteers. They were very motivated to serve as volunteer for their country. I was impressed by their high backgrounds and levels. It was too easy to become friends from the first day. The first weeks were hard for us because we started a ‘Military Training.’ We woke up too early for sport, and we spent weeks of discipline. I still remember one day when Captain Sylla found us laughing and discussing during the lunch; he told us you have less than five minutes to finish eating, when time is up he asked us to leave, the majority of us did not finish their meals.
The PST helped us to learn and improve new skills, which will help us during our service in the village. Design Thinking, the first aid training with the Red Cross, visits to farms, many presentations by leaders and change makers… .During the training we had to practice all that we learned to memorize it. When we were waiting to pass the exam with the Red Cross; I was with my friend Ousmane Tamba watching some students doing sport, then a girl fell down, we run and found her unconsciousness. We used the skills that we learned for this case until she woke up.
The big memory for me in the PST was when we visited Joel Island to see the big work of a local association in planting to protect the island. During our walk I injured in my foot. My friends and the staff were worried, but it was a small injury. They helped me and everyone took care of me; they showed the real meaning of one family.
On Friday 08 December, we did the Swear-in Ceremony; we became official Volunteers for the second group of CorpsAfrica/Senegal. I met the Volunteers families, who congratulated and encouraged us for our work and to the best to help others and a have a good impact.
That is a small blog about my trip to this wonderful country, and how I am proud to become a Volunteer in the second group. Since I arrived I did not feel far from my home and my family in Morocco, because I have a new one and I am comfortable here.
I hope you enjoy reading my first blog. Follow me for more blogs and stories about the people in my site.