BCS Byte Size Made it to Senegal!
When we created the first edition of BCS Byte Size, we never imagined it would end up thousands of miles away! This copy made it all the way to Ziguinchor, Senegal, but there’s a very good reason why it did. Here’s Will Warrilow’s (photographed below) story of how Byte Size went international!
“In January, 2017, I departed for Ziguinchor, Senegal, supported by BCS Byte Size, to set up a youth employability project. Senegal’s unofficial youth unemployment rate stands at 70% and in Casamance, where Ziguinchor is located, suffers from unemployment disproportionately to the rest of the country.
Employability was something the YMCA hadn’t tackled before, focusing previously primarily on health. However, as Senegal continues to develop, the next stage is to increase the employability of the youth (18-35 year olds). This is in conjunction with continuing to deliver health messages in stopping the spread of HIV and preventing the epidemic of teenage pregnancies.
In setting up the project, three essential elements were outlined; the learning of English, IT skills along with more specific employability skills. I, along with my team created English, employability and IT clubs in every district of Ziguinchor. English curriculum’s outlined basic English, progressing all the way up to business English. Each club had two tiers to support basic and advanced learners. The aim is to provide young people with the skills of speaking English, which is extremely useful for international trade.
Teaching IT skills presented a new challenge, essentially finding computers to teach it on. A partnership with the interestingly named FAP (FuturAuPresent) allowed us to utilise their computer suite to teach the IT curriculum we had created. This included basic use of Microsoft Office, typing skills, how to research jobs on the internet and upload a CV. We also provided more basic sessions to show people how to turn a computer on; something that may sound strange, but many of the youth, whilst knowing how to use a smartphone competently, had never actually encountered a computer.
Employability clubs were also a key, linking in with the IT club. These ran region wide, introducing people to how to write a CV, a cover letter and what to do in an interview. We also spent a lot of our time simply making people aware of services available to them such as ANPEJ. This has a multimillion USD budget and is a designated Senegalese Government Agency, to aid with youth enterprise and employment.
The team I worked in was half Senegalese and this helped us deliver a strong message to the people who needed it the most. Young Senegalese were imparting the knowledge to other young Senegalese and so not only did more people engage, but the project is sustainable as the volunteers I worked with continue to work within their community with the YMCA. On top of this, many of the unemployed youth can’t speak French, the business language of Senegal. Having members of the team who could speak local dialects such as Wolof and Jola was extremely useful for delivering clear messages. Local volunteers also had key contacts, which were essential for events such as a careers day where employers and jobseekers met, networked and learnt what jobs were available and what was required to get them.
Within the next 5 months I’ll be volunteering within my own community in the UK. I’m going to volunteer at Trinity Community Resource Centre and am looking to give talks about my time in Senegal and how lessons learnt there can be brought to the UK.”
What a fantastic story and we wish Will all the very best for the future. People can make a difference and Will has showed this, what a guy! We’re certainly looking forward to attending his talks about his time in Senegal.
You can donate to Will’s Just Giving Page here by visiting the link here.
Has Will’s story inspired you to change the world? Visit the ICS (International Citizen Service) website here to see how you can volunteer and make a difference.
Y Care International is a youth driven organisation that exists for vulnerable people to help them free themselves from poverty. You can visit their website here to find out more.