Replies: 9 - Last Post: Feb 19, 2013 4:23 PM Last Post By: Kira
Jun 13, 2012 10:17 PM
African orphanagesG'day everyone,
Does anybody on the forum have legitimate contact details of childrens orphanages in Senegal / Gambia. A few of us are looking to volunteer some of our time with one of these organisations on our way through. All our emails have gone unanswered, which is probably no surprise !! We are not really in a position to pay money to one of the volunteer companies that arrange this type of thing and we probably only have a week or two up our sleeves anyway !
This is a genuine enquiry guys, so any info would be appreciated.
Jun 14, 2012 1:18 AM
1..... Children, plus Money and holiday volunteering seems to me to be a bad mix. For your holidays you get into the lives of vulnerable children, then leave, go back home to get on with your own. What children need is long-term stability with dedicated carers, with them day after day caring and protecting, not people suddenly and enthusiastic arriving out of the blue and disappearing again after a short time. Such intrusions can be damaging, probably recovering from a wrench from families already, it doesn't benefit the children in the long term, just to make the visitor feel good.
Select an overseas or local Children's Charity, make a generous donation and leave contact with the children to those dedicated long-term to this vocation.
Care choosing people to have contact with children should be paramount, evaluating the motivation of volunteers too, as the safety of the children should be first and foremost, not based on how much money the visitor can pay, this business is fraught with dangers for the children. How ever well meaning you are, doing a bit of volunteering on your holidays is not a good idea.
My post may seem blunt, hope you are not offended, do think about it again and make a good decision.
Edited by: moroccotraveler
Jun 14, 2012 3:53 AM
Jun 14, 2012 7:21 AM
Jun 14, 2012 8:31 AM
4I would also caution against week or two volunteering in orphanages mainly because of repeated disruption of attachment every few weeks could be quite traumatizing as moroccotraveler says. There are lots of organizations which do this but they do not, I'm afraid, have the childrens' best interests at heart, or else they are simply unaware of the psychological implications of this type of volunteering.
However, as someone who lives in Dakar I can recommend a place which you could visit for an afternoon (I think it is every Saturday when they allow visitors) if you want to hold and play with cute babies less than a year old. It is called the Pouponniere de la Medina and they have a website if you want to look it up (www.dakarpouponniere.com). It is run by Spanish (or Italian?) nuns, and the babies are well cared for--I know some people who are regular visitors. However, they are not looking for volunteers as they have adequate staff, but they are always in need of donations of money or goods. You should contact them if you want to visit and be prepared to bring something. As the babies have reliable care-givers in a stable environment (unlike many orphanages), receiving visitors once a week should not present any attachment issues.
Jun 15, 2012 9:41 PM
5Well, apparently its not a good idea !!!
For those of you that have just made a massive amount of assumptions, my friends and I were actually looking to see if our skills in the building industry maybe of some assistance these orphanages in terms of improving their facilities ! As strange as it may sound, our main focus was going to be on construction type scenarios as apposed to physically attaching ourselves to children and giving them false hope !!! I had this weird idea that by improving their living conditions, it may actually assist in their "long term stability" and help the "dedicated carers" with their role.
Thanks for the input, I will remember to look the other way when we are in Senegal.
Jun 16, 2012 12:00 AM
6....... fair assumptions though, the magic word being Orphans . The assumption you made was we could read your mind.
However you now propose to do unpaid construction work in a country with huge numbers of unemployed workers, how will that go down.
Charities like http://www.goal.ie work with the communities they help, providing much needed employment for the communities, all good Aid Providers / Charities do similar, ask one of these organisations how you can best help . Do-it-yourself on your holidays volunteering is wasteful and at times resented. There's a better way to do it, find a charity at home and working with them make a difference. Goal are currently recruiting search their site.
We are making assumptions all the time, based on the bits on information presented, poor information makes for poor assumptions, please don't take offensive none was intended.
Jun 16, 2012 2:54 AM
7As moroccotraveler said above, no offense was intended nor was I implying anything negative about your desire to volunteer. The world needs all the altruism it can get. However volunteering in Africa has become a bit of a cliche and has brought in some cases unintended consequences. In Ghana volunteering has become a big industry with a fair number of shady outfits, and in some other areas it has created expectations that whites/westerners are always out to give money and/or their labor for free, leading some people to become rather passive in their approach to improving their own situation.
Go and volunteer during your travels, but please go into it with your eyes open about how the whole volunteering scenario plays out in a larger sense. Senegal is a poor country of course, but it is not desperately poor and you won't see much grinding poverty that could not be solved with a bit of initiative on the part of themselves or the government. Just my opinion and others may feel differently.
Feb 19, 2013 2:28 PM
8Important to read this article if considering volunteering (it is specific to Cambodia, but having worked in non profits in Africa, I can assure that all should take the same warnings into consideration):
This is in no way meant to deter anyone from helping and volunteering - there are great projects out there.
Just do your homework, consider the impact of short stays on children who easily get attached to "new friends" and generally, make sure the operations are legit and have the children's best interests at heart.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK ; )
Feb 19, 2013 4:23 PM
9It's certainly something that shouldn't be taken with a pinch of salt, nor should it be 'paid' for via a volunteer organisation.
CREER have a different attitude to it & determined not to go down the 'zoo' route http://wp.me/P3aqBS-W
As Bushwaker says, do your homework THOROUGHLY!
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