They are the engine running Desert Voicebox from the ground, managing all the local aspects and teaching, so far, 3 out of the 4 levels of the programme. Two of them teach English, the other two, music, but they work together as a team and help each other whenever necessary. They are learning at the same time as working, getting their professional training through intensive workshops and online lessons, and truly devoting themselves to their students and the project.
Here they briefly introduce themselves, showing off their English language skills!
I have loved all the volunteers who have contributed to our knowledge. I also thank the teachers who have participated in our distance education in the past months. It was a great opportunity to learn for me. I thank everyone who supports this project for letting it progress. I hope the project arrives to all the Sahrawi children in the refugee camps.
Distance learning has been a really beneficial experience so far, and I hope that the summer training rounds for the teachers will increase. Finally, I would like to extend my special thanks to those who stayed up and helped from near or far to complete this project and bring smiles to the faces of innocent children.
I wasn't lucky enough to be able to continue my education until university! My grandmother isn't a big fan of education and she was responsible for me; she always said "girls shouldn't go far from home for long time! It's good enough that you can read and write your name"! I didn't and couldn't give up! I found ways to study in the camps and joined every course here run by kind and loving friends of the sahrawis who are helping the sahrawi refugees in many different ways.
In the camp I studied Spanish and English, and I am now still working on my English through DESERT VOICEBOX. I thank all the people who are behind this program. I love teaching English!
school as a sports coach and during my work, I had the opportunity to learn about Desert Voicebox. One day, one of the volunteers came searching for a new teacher and he interviewed me and some other teachers from my school, and after some days I got the news that I had been selected! I was very happy and slowly I have become better and better at my new job with a lot of effort. I thank everyone who has given me training and advice, and all those in charge of the Desert Voicebox.
A brief intro by Violeta Ruano, Desert Voicebox Project Manager
Beccy Allen is a long-term friend of Sandblast, and an even longer-term friend of the Saharawis. She has travelled to the occupied territories of Western Sahara to learn and inform about the situation there, has been a key part of numerous human rights campaigns in support of the Saharawi struggle, and been a few times to the Saharawi refugee camps, always involved with the community in diverse ways. In 2017, she decided to spend 6 months in the camps to teach English to the kids of our nascent project Desert Voicebox (Stave House in the Sahara back then), among other things, and she has remained in the hearts of all the projects' participants ever since (quite literally, since she has returned to run workshops and assessments a few times already!). Kind, high-spirited and proactive, Beccy is definitely one of our best ambassadors! Here she shares briefly her experience, but if you want to learn more about her journey you can always check her personal blog here. Happy reading (and please share)!
I'd wanted to volunteer abroad for a long time, but my interests and skills didn't seem to align to point me in an obvious direction. I started getting involved in Western Sahara solidarity and suddenly, I realised I'd inadvertently been preparing for volunteering with Desert Voicebox for a long time. My desire to be on the African continent; my interest to immerse myself in an Islamic culture; my Spanish speaking. Finally, it all made sense. And with the chance to take a one-year sabbatical from my job in the UK, I headed off for a six-month stay in the Saharawi Refugee Camps for an opportunity to put my project management and creative education experience to good use. I was welcomed into a family and a community and soon became part of things - taking my turn to do daily chores and earning my keep as well as building new family and friendship ties that will last a lifetime. The whole experience was a hugely challenging but ultimately rewarding one, which threw me out of my comfort zone and got me problem-solving and adapting like never before. I became a teacher, and the love the children showed me and seeing them flourish in English and music made each and every day a joy. Working alongside some brilliant Saharawi women who have learnt new skills through the programme and are applying them to help build the potential of the children in the camps left me humbled. I am proud to have played a small role in the development of Desert Voicebox. Providing creative education to the Saharawi children is imperative and inspiring in equal measure. With the help of more volunteers the programme can continue to go from strength to strength and enable more Saharawi children to thrive.
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