As a current member and former executive committee member of the Dakar Women’s Group, aka ‘the DWG’, I have some insights that I would like to share. These are my thoughts and may or may not be shared by the Dakar Women’s Group, but I’m in a privileged place to be able to speak based on experience, understanding and also frustration.

The Dakar Women’s Group is a charitable organization with a social side. It is made up of English-speaking women from all around the world who live here in Dakar. From hosting the city’s largest art show to taking guided tours of local markets, organizing galas and elegant teas to raising funds for local charities to Japanese cooking classes, there’s something (actually probably a lot of things!) for everyone.

In the group you’ll meet professionals, trailing spouses, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home mothers, students… It’s a fantastic mix of ladies, each with her own story and something to contribute.

Some members have lived in Dakar for many moons and others are new arrivals. Some are absolutely head over heels in love with life in Senegal and others, well not so much… Some seem to live and breathe DWG, while others join just for the perks or to promote their own businesses and hunt for new customers.

In the DWG you’ll find some of the most hard-working, dedicated, passionate, enthusiastic women you’ll ever meet. And you’ll also meet some women that you totally don’t click with and drive you bonkers.

Who should join the Dakar Women’s Group?

If there is a hobby you’d like to pursue or charity focus (education, healthcare…) you would like to become involved with, you should join the Dakar Women’s Group.

If you have just arrived in Dakar and are looking to make friends and get connected, you should join the Dakar Women’s Group.

If you have been in Dakar for a while and many of your friends have just left so you’re looking to meet new people, you should join but Dakar Women’s Group.

If you work at a busy job and travel a lot but would like to participate in some charitable activities in your limited free time, you should consider joining the Dakar Working Women’s Group which organizes its activities in the evenings and on weekends.

If you have a business that you would like to promote among expats Dakar, you should NOT join the Dakar Women’s Group if that is your primary motivation. We will find you out quickly – and we won’t be happy about it.

Did you know the DWG publishes the Dakar Guidebook? It’s an excellent resource for expats, whether you’re new in town or have been around the block in a couple beat up taxis. It’s also a great place for businesses to advertise if they want to reach the expat market.

If you do not have time to attend meetings, participate in fundraisers or volunteer at events, but want to make a 25,000 cfa donation to local charities and get the monthly newsletter, sure go ahead and join the DWG.

3 ways to make the most of your DWG experience

1. Show up to the first meeting ready to commit to several hours of volunteer work. Remember this is a charitable organization the end goal of every event is to raise funds for local charities.

Did you know that last club year the Dakar women’s group raised 20 million CFA for 11 local charities? Yeah, pretty impressive. Unfortunately the executive committee also spent a lot of time dealing with members who joined just for the perks and were not willing to participate or volunteer of their time. Yeah, not cool.

2. Join a Club or Class. These smaller groups are where the real connections and friendships are made. So whether your interest is art, learning a language, knitting or preserving the environment, you’ll be able to meet others to pursue it with.

3. Read the email newsletter. Like really read it. Key dates, upcoming activities, directions to meeting places, financial info… It’s all there. (The executive committee members are already overloaded in their responsibilities of running an all-volunteer group of 300 members. Don’t email them to ask a question until you’ve read the newsletter.)

How to get involved

The first meeting of the 2016-17 club year will be held at 9:30am on Tuesday, September 20th, at Terrou-Bi Hotel. A Newcomer’s Coffee will also be held on October 4th.

Membership information and other details can be found on the DWG website. Be sure to check out the calendar!