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Ayyub Kesington

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Kaylen Airey

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Orla Owen
Zeinab Akhter

Ayyub Kesington's Roughley Trust Gap Year Grant report 2023

The Trust awarded a Gap Year Grant to Ayyub Kesington. Ayyub worked with Project Trust in the rural village of Yene, Senegal. This is his report on his return.

Ayyub and 5 students

Ayyub Kesington's report

On September 27, 2022, at 10am, I left for Senegal with my Project Trust colleagues to teach English in the rural village of Thilmakha. However, due to issues with that project, my partner and I had to relocate to the beach village of Yene. It was in this delightful community that I met new people, discovered a new way of life, and found a new home. There were good moments and bad ones, but the skills and lessons I learned are invaluable assets that I could not have obtained elsewhere.


Following the incident with Thilmakha, my partner, Finley, and I relocated to the seaside village of Yene. It is in the Greater Dakar region (Dakar being the capital city), about 10 minutes away from Diamnadjo. Diamnadjo is a big transportation centre, so getting about was quite easy. I fell in love with Yene almost immediately after moving there. Its beautiful beaches and tranquil atmosphere made it the perfect place for us to live. Because the village is small, everyone knows everyone else. This enabled us to truly integrate and feel like members of the community.

The people living there, who were largely fishermen, taxi drivers, 'boutique' owners, or farmers, were incredibly welcoming and always keen to learn English. As a result, we found ourselves teaching not only students but also others outside of school.

I ate a range of things, some of which I loved and others of which I was less fond. There was Thieboudienne, which was basically rice and fish with a lot of vegetables and a special sauce on top. This dish did not appeal to me at first, but it grew on me by the end. Ndambe is the Wolof word for beans. This dish, which was normally served with a baguette, was one of my favourites. Tiéré was a couscous-like grain that was typically served with fish sauce. I didn't like this dish at first, and it didn't grow on me over the course of the year either.

4 students


After a few days, my partner and I were taken to Yene's middle school (Le CEM), where we met the English teachers - Monsieur Ghihg, Monsieur Diouf, and Monsieur Faye. They were friendly and spoke fluent English. They instantly expressed their gratitude for our help and that they were looking forward to working with us.

The CEM had 2 buildings about a 10-minute walk apart where the classes la sixième (Year 7), la cinquième (Year 8), la quatrième (Year 9), and la troisième (Year 10) were held. However, due to the restricted number of facilities and teachers, classes were often overcrowded, with approximately 60 to 80 students for each class. So, we understood from the start that this would be a difficult task.

the classroom

The first day of class was a complete mess. It was impossible to maintain everyone's attention due to the huge number of students. The other side will speak louder when we try to silence one side. The only option was to get Monsieur Ghihg to remain in our class. However, I learned from this experience, and I used it as motivation to find the key to unlocking the student's attention. Days turned into weeks and then months.

The repeated lessons helped me find the key, though I had it all along. I learned to inject my personality into my teaching. I realised that teaching did not have to be an emotionless activity. I started including my humour in the lessons, allowing the students to laugh, and as a result, they began to like English and look forward to classes. Their level of English improved, not by much, but at least now they had a bit of confidence and could pronounce words well.

Free time

Outside of school, I wasnt that busy, however, I found things to do and get involved in:

Extra teaching

Hearing English being spoken is uncommon in Senegal, and even more so in rural areas. As a result, people saw me as an opportunity to learn the language. People from across the village would approach me and ask me to teach them English. As a volunteer, I did my best to help as many people as possible: whether it was just talking with those who were more versed in the language or teaching a few words to those who knew none. People were always eager to learn.


I discovered a basketball club during my first few weeks in Yene. I quickly joined because I was already a basketball player. It was held every afternoon, and the members ranged in age from 8 to 23 years. The players were good, and the environment was friendly, so I wasted no time making new friends. They would often teach me Wolof phrases in exchange for English ones. I had a great time there.


Over the course of our gap year, we were fortunate to visit several places, such as St. Louis, which is in the north of Senegal bordering Mauritania, for the Annual Jazz Festival. Cap Skirring, which is in the Casamance region in the south of Senegal, for our Christmas break. And Dakar to view the African Renaissance statue, Gorée island a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is an island off the coast of Dakar and was the biggest slave trading centre off the coast of Africa. We also visited our other colleagues in Joal and Kaolack in central Senegal. We travelled to other countries such as Gambia and Mauritania. It was a fantastic experience because I was able to fully satisfy my desire to visit new places.

the school


Looking back on this year, I can confidently say it was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. It has allowed me to develop my resilience, adaptability, and maturity. I've done things I never thought possible and made friends with the most unexpected individuals, but I've loved every minute of it.

I would like to thank Roughley Trust and everyone who contributed to my gap year. This journey would not have been possible without your help.



the coast


Thieboudienne local dish






basketball pitch