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Senegal - Giving something back
Giving something back
A painted house in Saint-Louis: images of famous sufis dominate all over the country, from shop displays to famous shrines © Sean Connolly
Whether or not your aim in travelling is to participate in charitable work or not, your presence in Senegal is already a net benefit for the economy and, with some intentionality behind how you spend your money, your visit can be of value to people here long aft er you leave. As much as possible, try to direct your spending to locally owned businesses – this could mean anything from hotels and restaurants to guides and transport. When you give your guide a fair tip, hire someone to take you on an excursion or eat at a local restaurant, you’re providing much-needed employment and income; if people can make a living from legitimate employment in tourism, it encourages the further development of the sector and mitigates against some of the negatives that oft en engenders it, thus encouraging positive attitudes towards tourism overall. (Though attitudes to tourism in Senegal tend to be quite welcoming as it is.)
If you’d like to get involved further, or perhaps even dedicate some of your time in Senegal as a volunteer, there are a number of ways to do this. There are several locally run NGOs working in various capacities around Senegal that accept the assistance of short-term international volunteers. These include Maison de la Gare in Saint-Louis and Empire des Enfants in Dakar, both of which offer opportunities for travellers to volunteer their time on a short- or long-term basis with talibé children in those cities. In the realms of sport and education, SenExperience+ offers a number of programmes in Casamance, the Petite Côte and Dakar. For dedicated volunteering trips and medium- to long-term positions, Senegal is among the most popular destinations in West Africa, and a number of diff erent outfits offer positions ranging from two weeks to two years. Organisations work in everything from education to agriculture, and Global Leadership Adventures, Projects Abroad, International Voluntary Service and Service Volontaire International all offer medium- to long-term volunteer positions in Senegal. If you have an interest in farming, Development In Gardening is active here as well.