Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom

by Lets Be Ready
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom
Chance For All in an African Magical Classroom

Here we are facing another battle of chance for all Senegal: children and road accidents !

To have repeatedly gone to hospital to rescue and assist a child, a talibé, a homeless child, Chance for all Senegal decides to put its resources to solve this problem.

Thus Chance for all Senegal has chosen the month of September, a period we all know the holidays are in full swing and the children with lots of energy escape the vigilance of parents not to mention street children. This is then an opportune time to reframe the children and raise their awareness on road safety issues and with the collaboration of the Senegal Red Cross on first aid.

It is through lively and fun activities that children have learned about these subjects. Under the guidance of the instructors and chaperones, Maodo now knows, when to cross the road you have to look left and right. Another kid Arona, knows not to run when crossing the road and if there is an adult on a busy road ask to be crossed. We taught them about traffic lights, even if Saint-Louis town doesn’t have any…..LOL, just in case they moved to Dakar with their Marabouts.

 

Indeed, at the traffic lights, they know that green does not allow pedestrians to cross, yellow is a hurry to get to the sidewalk and red is a clear path for all pedestrians. At the white stripes on the road: the pedestrian crossing, the children know that there is more safety to cross, they have priority. It was in a small groups and in a pleasant competitive games spirit that all these points among others were covered. In addition to that, children now know who to call first in case of a road accident and that goes without saying the first safety, survival measures to be taken according to their ability as a child.

The road next to Corniche in one of the busiest, with more accidents and it is not every day that we want to run to the hospital because a child has been involved in an accident (said Amina an Vieux from Chance for All staff ).In this month of  September, in the middle of the holidays, the children are full of ardor and above all left to themselves and who is more exposed than the talibés and the homeless children?

Aware of this and always present for the cause of the children, Chance for all Senegal is now extending its activities to fight against road accidents, especially for these children.

It was a great pleasure to hold all these activities and to see the children retain the instructions and note their importance.

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His name is Malick.


Eight (8) years in the street and almost two (2) years at the center Chance for All Senegal, which gathers, directs and serves, as a home for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and talibés, here is the decisive choice: find his parent or stay on the street, which he has always known.
Malick, aged 14, has been on the street since he was four, the day his father left him under the “skirts” of a Daara marabout in the city of Saint-Louis (Pikine).


Malick is a street children like no other. He always takes care of himself with the money he makes in his long days traveling around the city of Saint-Louis. He is a soccer lover, his love for soccer makes him always dressed in the jerseys of the national team. Of his habits, Malick prowls around the hotel next to the post office (Hotel de la poste), the hotel Residence and can earn up to 700 francs the day. With the little French he knows, he sometimes serves as a tour guide. He helps tourists make money change by taking them to the ideal places or by interpreting the local language, shows them the city he knows as the palm of his hand, from the cultural center, to hotel de poste and the walks under the "takussanou"(Evening) Ndar along the bridge.


From this activity, the boy meets "toubabs"called Fred and Nancy that led him to discover warmth and hope at Chance for All Senegal since he set foot there, one day, in March 2017. The change is not about to stop there for Malick. His stride at Chance for All Senegal was the beginning of finding his family. For a child as remarkable as him, to leave him, still, at the mercy of the street was not conceivable for his new friends, family.


In a desire to reunite him with his family, The local staff at the association in collaboration with other association in Saint-Louis lead inquiries and make their way back to his hometown.
After days and days, visiting several concessions, using photos that did not betray paternal traits, they found Malick's father. Actually his father lives in Daara Djolof.
In an interview with that latter, he confides to having left him to a "Serigne" of Daara when he was four (4) years old. Time passes, he loses contact and for not having set foot in the same place for a long time, he loses sight of his boy, who had no memory of where he came from.


The father is happy and eager to be back under the same roof with his son but this is not Malick's enthusiasm. When one learns to live at his own expense soon enough the family cocoon can represent the bird’s fear of the cage: being deprived of freedom, afraid to no longer fly high.
Malick fears that he will no longer be able to make money to support himself and be a burden to his dad.
Thus, the question of gaining his family or remaining in the life he has known since his four (4) years, with the new family he has made, remains unresolved.


What would you do instead of Malick? Compromises ?

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Countries around the world celebrate women during the month of March with the international women’s day. However often in times the focus is too much on women and girls here. Still women’s conditions cannot be improved without an increased consciousness from men. In our centre, for the month of April, we decided to sensitize our young boys on girls and women issues and challenges.

We believe that change will only be possible if boys are taught very early the importance to respect girls and women. So we organized discussions around women’s rights and shared with the kids stories of inspiring Senegalese women. To better raise awareness on critical issues, discussions were also held to tackle issues such as consequences of early marriages or school dropouts for girls.

As boys who are already out of the French academic systems, the boys may not always be sensitive to girls education. In some areas, the place of the girl is still in the kitchen and her future is about taking care of her husband and children. Often, men do not really understand the importance of education for themselves; educating a girl cannot thus be a priority.

Changing behaviors and beliefs seems to be difficult but it is important to start talking with children very early on this issues. This can even avoid abuse between children and may help to reach new milestones in the fight against violence against women. Change is only possible if we involve men in the fight. Involving men in the fight for better conditions is important and critical.

Our second focus was to extend our coverage areas and reach more children. Talibe children do not always receive proper care, they sometimes have wounds that they hide. Such situations may put them in danger as the wounds can evolve into dangerous infections. We visited more areas to meet some of the talibe children we do not usually see. We hoped to gain their trust after discussions and then proceed with the wounds. We hope that after the discussions, the talibes children will be more conscious of the importance of their health and will decide to seek care when needed

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February 24, 2019 marked an important turn in Senegal politics and history. After three weeks of campaign, the Senegalese had to go to the polls to elect their new president. For this presidential election, there were five candidates.

Despite the general enthusiasm and excitement, many Senegalese, regardless of the age and sometimes level of education do not know the power they have as citizens in such stake. Many Senegalese do not vote while they always complain about the system in place. Conscious of the issue, we have decided to teach to the kids of the centre what elections are and why they are important in a country’s cycle. 

President of the Children …

After real elections in Senegal, we decided to organize fake elections, reproducing the complete process including the campaign part. We selected 5 children to run for elections; 3 from the Darou neighborhood and 2 among the talibe children. The 5 candidates were allowed to campaign to gain the trust and vote of the other young boys. They presented their programs which were almost all about improving living conditions of children.

It was such an exciting experience for them. 

For the actual day of voting we had all the material in place and also the staff. We constituted a panel of children to organize the process and later on count the votes and give results.

One one hand, the first phase of this process was to teach to the children candidates how to prepare compelling speeches to grab the attention of the audience and above all convince the majority. The children learnt how to organize their thoughts and how to speak in public. Being the only one speaking in the room was a real challenge for some of them. But as the campaign went on, they started to feel at ease.

On the other hand, another phase consisted in teaching the voters how to select a candidate. We addressed issues such as the importance to vote for someone’s ideas and program instead of choosing them because of the relationship that may exist between the voter and the candidate. For instance, one of the children thought he should vote for his friend even though he was not convinced by his program.

The overall aim of this exercise was also to teach them the actual process of voting. In previous elections in the country, there were many cases of electors who did not understand the voting process.  Recreating the scenario of the vote was a way to teach to these future responsible citizens the dos and donts.

Another major aim was to teach them what democracy is and why it is important to respect others views even when they differ from our own views. Some kids cannot understand that different points of view do not necessarily mean that they cannot get along. At first, the children found it difficult to pay attention or show respect to candidates that they do not support. After discussions, children finally accepted to listen to others and to respect their opinion and projects.

After the election, we asked kids to share their appreciation of the initiative and to tell us what they learnt. Their appreciation was heart-melting and very encouraging.

The President elected won with a score of over 60%. Thanks to our previous advise on the necessary mutual respect between leaders (candidates) and their supporters, no children expressed anger after the results. The children from Darou were happy to be able to tell their parents that they know how to vote. 

This experience made them all feel like real citizens with a voice that matters.

Our fake elections were the highlight of the month but we did continue our activities. A Japanese volunteer came to the centre and spent nice moments with the kids. She taught them how to make origamis. That was another great moment to learn and experience other cultures for the children. They were very enthusiastic and enjoyed the sessions with her. We encouraged them to teach that to other children that did not attend the sessions.

For the rest of the month, we will try to expand our zone of coverage and reach more talibe children for the care. 

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A real progress at the centre

From November to January, local volunteers at the centre were working on a great partnership between the French Institute in Saint-Louis region and the Association Chance for All Senegal.

We met the Director of the French Institute in Saint-Louis and together we agreed that was important to involve kids in Darou in some programmes. From now on, children will be able to visit the rich library where, there are many children’s books and pictures books which can help them to learn and discover new things. Kids can also attend art exhibitions, visit art gallery and participate in workshops with artists to learn creative lessons.

Moreover, during that time, they discovered that the French Institute has a multimedia library, open to the public, so they stayed and found that the cinema theatre was a magical place. Since they were wise, we allowed them to watch funny cartoons.

During that visit, they met other kids (probably from wealthy neighborhoods), but they was no difference between them and when the Director spoke to them regarding Darou’s situation, the other kids were very touched and one little girl gave her drawings as a gift. For our kids also, it was incredibly moving and meaningful.

After that visit, the Association’s members, representing Dakar and Thiés regions came to enjoy Christmas celebration with us. It was time for a meeting all together and they told us about a new initiative they have in their mind. In fact, they found the great idea to make awareness mini-videos, highlighting the current problems of the society (health, economic development, disease, poverty, environment and so on) which can affect directly child’s behavior or life.

 For this purpose, that work will allow kids from the centre to participate, so we will make children play in that mini-videos and then we will use a video projector to show to other kids and local families in neighborhoods. Our objective is to teach people via videos and at the end organize tea debates about each subject.

Our first important subjects were to talk about ‘Talibés’, ‘girls at school’ ‘child abuse’ and ‘hygiene’. Children at the centre were really motivated in playing their role in the videos. We had a great time during rehearsals. Later, when we finished the first videos, we launched a great awareness and education campaign in several neighborhoods. Our children became famous stars in Darou, even if their role was to denounce their child’s abuse in our society.

Now our next step is to subtitle videos and have a workshop at the French institute (since videos were effective education tools). Also, they advised us to collaborate with other Associations to have greatest impact on kids and their future.

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Lets Be Ready

Location: Longmont, CO - USA
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Fred Zambroski
Longmont, CO United States
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