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My Volunteering Experience: Zala Košir

My Magazine 2024/02
2 min
Author: Zala Košir
IMPACT
To say that my experience in The Gambia was amazing would be putting it mildly. It warmed my heart and has changed me in many ways. If you are considering going to The Gambia as a volunteer, don't wait any longer – just go for it. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Let's start with the expectations I had about volunteering in The Gambia. Well, I have to admit that my knowledge about it was pretty limited before I arrived. I knew we would be volunteering in a kindergarten with children aged 4 to 10 and needed to prepare some workshops. I had no idea what the school looked like, the materials available, or the number of children who would be there. As a teacher by profession, I prefer things to be organized, so it was quite a challenge. We also didn't know how many other volunteers would be there, and we assumed our primary task would be assisting the school teachers.

School started at 9 a.m., and it took us approximately an hour to get there. We spent the first hour playing with the kids outside – jumping rope, playing football, singing children's counting rhymes, etc. Sometimes, we also prepared things for the planned workshops. We had two one-hour workshops daily, one at 10 a.m. and another at 12 p.m. The kids were usually divided into two groups according to age. Our task was to lead these two workshops, so we had to be creative with the available materials. The kids particularly enjoyed making bracelets with beads, drawing and colouring. We also included some sports activities, such as teaching them how to jump rope, play frisbee, and play other games.

What surprised me was that there were a lot of materials at the school, but most of them were not really useful. So, we would plan all the workshops at home and then check with the person responsible for what they have and what they need to buy.

Another thing that surprised me was the lack of discipline in the school. During the first few days, it was tough for me to listen to all the noise inside the classroom, but I got used to it and learned that it's still possible to get things done. It's definitely an interesting experience. One reason for the children's behaviour is that they are not well-versed in English and did not understand what we asked of them.

After school, we went back home, and in the afternoons, we usually headed to the beach, played some board games, or went on daily trips.

My advice for you would be to take the opportunity on weekends to go on trips where you'll have an amazing opportunity to see life outside the city where you're staying. It's really worth your time.

To sum up, I really appreciate Emil's idea that we write articles about our experiences so that everyone can get a better picture and prepare for their visit to The Gambia (thank you, Emil!). I have no doubt you'll have a great and enriching experience there. These kinds of experiences stay in your heart and soul forever and broaden your view of the world.

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