In 2011, I went for a week of holiday in Senegal to join my companion of the time who was studying there.
But a few days before the leaving, I decided to quit my job to stay longer and to come back at the same time as him, 6 weeks after the initial date.
There, I had to act quickly, to find an idea to keep busy during these 6 weeks of “holiday”. And I must say that my decision to volunteer was done almost naturally.
It was while surfing the Internet and by chance that I came across the association “La Maison des Enfants d’Awa” (=”Awa Children’s House”) website.
The association welcomes underprivileged children from 3 to 6 years old free of charge, to pre-school them. It teaches children the basic principles of hygiene, nutrition and rigorous follow-up on health and family support in order to compensate for a cruel lack of resources.
Although I have no qualifications in these fields, I returned the registration form to be a volunteer, feeling able to lend a hand to the daily.
Very quickly, I received a positive response from Isabelle (aka Awa) and that’s how I had an extraordinary experience for more than 3 weeks!
For most people, being a volunteer means helping by giving of your time, serving a cause.
But what they don’t know (and me neither before this experience) is that it’s also an opportunity to create contacts. There, I learned that a voluntary act is also meetings, exchanges, nice moments …
Even if it took me a long time to adapt to the way of life of the association and the environment (people and the local heat), the atmosphere of friendship, sharing, exchanges between all; the joy of living of the children who literally “lift” us made this stay a very strong and unforgettable experience in my life.
These are by far the best “holidays” I’ve had.
When we help children who really need it (some are sometimes in a very critical situation), we inevitably forget about little worries! I learned that volunteering is giving others, but it’s also receiving 1000 times what we gave!
I ended my adventure on a positive note and with a sense of pride.
And I can’t wait to repeat the experience!