soccer players practicing philanthropy
Soccer, or football players to most of the world, are most often recognized for their impressive work on the field. However, professional soccer players have a lot of potential for impactful good off the field. This, due to their status, influence and financial capabilities. Listed here are five soccer players (part of FIFA) who have a powerful impact on the lives of impoverished peoples. Importantly, their reach extends throughout the world. These are great examples of professional soccer players practicing philanthropy.

5 FIFA Soccer Players Practicing Philanthropy

  1. Lionel Messi is an Argentine footballer who plays forward and captains La Liga club, Barcelona and the Argentinian national team. In response to COVID-19, Messi has made a wide variety of contributions through his organization, The Leo Messi Foundation. He began his foundation in 2007. Its mission focuses on helping kids and teenagers using health, education and sports initiatives. Messi has donated €1 million, split between Hospital Clinic in Catalunya and a health center in Argentina. Additionally, he gave €200,000 to UNICEF projects in Kenya. As a result, more than 2,000 citizens gained access to clean water.
  2. Mohammed Salah is a winger for the English Premier League club, Liverpool and the Egyptian national team. Salah has donated thousands of tons of food and fresh meat to his hometown in Egypt, to help families who have been impacted by COVID-19. Also, Salah donated to the Bassioun General Hospital. Moreover, he (along with his father) gave land to establish a sewage treatment plant in his hometown. With this effort, he hopes to provide a stable source of clean water to the region. Furthermore, Salah has been selected as the first ambassador for the U.N. Instant Network Schools, which connects refugees and host countries’ students with online education opportunities.
  3. Sadio Mane is a forward for the English Premier League club, Liverpool. Mane is funding the construction of a hospital for the village of Bambali, Senegal, where he was born. He took inspiration to do so after losing his father to a stomach illness, with no hospital in the village available to help him. Considering Senegal’s inhabitants, 33% are below the poverty line and Mane’s contributions to schools, hospitals and mosques in his home village are helping improve the quality of life for individuals living there.
  4. Mesut Ozil is a German footballer who plays as a midfielder for the English Premier League club, Arsenal. It is reported that he has paid for more than 1,000 operations for children across the world, food for 100,000 refugees in Turkey and Syria and is an ambassador for the children’s charity — Rays of Sunshine, in England.
  5. Jermain Defoe is currently a striker for the Scottish Premiership club, Rangers. He created the Jermain Defoe Foundation in 2013 to support at-risk youth in his family’s hometown, Caribbean, St. Lucia. His foundation’s mission is to help kids who are vulnerable and in need in the U.K., the Caribbean Islands and Northern Island. His grandparents grew up in St. Lucia and his foundation has worked on several projects in St. Lucia. The foundation’s work includes the refurbishment of the Soufriere Primary School after a hurricane,  donation of shoes to the Daigen School and the financial backing of The Rainbow Children’s Home.

Good Work: On and Off the Pitch

In addition to their work on the football pitch, these soccer players practicing philanthropy are doing excellent work for humanitarian missions and initiatives.  The contributions of these soccer players in healthcare, education and nutrition are improving the lives of the individuals affected by their initiatives worldwide.

Hannah Bratton
Photo: Flickr

Senegalese ChildrenOver the past ten years, there has been a sharp global concern for Senegalese children’s well-being in schools, on the streets and within their own homes. The awareness of the brutal physical, mental and sexual treatment that many Senegalese children are subject to in modern society cannot be examined with a blind eye. Noko-Boku is a nonprofit organization that is having a direct impact on improving the lives of individual children living in Senegal.

Treatment in Schools

Over 50% of Senegal’s population lives in rural areas, making educational institutions challenging and school choice nonexistent. Many children miss the opportunity to attend school because of geographical barriers and familial responsibilities. Only 57% of students living in urban areas enroll in established educational centers.

Physical discipline from teachers is a common experience among children as young as 6-years-old. This makes the student-teacher relationship rigid and unwelcoming. Not only does this propel many students into detesting the school experience, but it also limits the number of safe spaces they have in their daily lives.

Senegalese Children on Streets

Additionally, hundreds of newborn boys in Senegal have no roof over their heads or family to comfort their cries. Many orphaned children among the streets of the nation’s capital Dakar are known as talibé children. They live in the same building that they attend their religious school teachings called Quranic Institutions. These children sleep on crowded sand floors with little to no personal belongings. Their lives have become an endless amount of physical and mental beatings that stay ingrained in them forever.

The fact that the children are subject to daily distress in their school hours is not the only issue. After the Quran’s teachings, a text that preaches peace, the students are forced to roam about the city’s jammed streets and beg for money and food. They receive beatings for showing up empty-handed to their “masters” or caretakers. Talibé children are in grave danger every day. The choice between the Quranic Schools and the streets is between a covered place to sleep or the sandy roads.

Tensions at Home

Furthermore, there is a mortality rate of 78% for children 5 years and under. With this rate, the need to improve home life among infant and toddler Senegalese children is crucial. It is common for very young children to live with extended family or neighbors when growing up instead of with their parents. This results from parents’ occupational obligations or immigration sacrifices to give their children and families a better future. The change in living situations and locations disrupts the mental and physical state of innocent growing children. Rates of sexual and physical abuse are much higher in children living in these estranged situations. This is because of the lack of supervision and trust between the child and the caretaker.

Noko-Boko’s Roots

In 2018 about 650,000 Senegalese children were not enrolled in schools or learning centers. This stunts their social and emotional growth. Zahra Thiam is the president and founder of Noko-Boku. She explained the catalyst of why so many young children are out of school in Senegal. She specified why this happens in the Kaolack region, where she was born and raised. There is an extreme lack of funding for instructors, supplies and materials in this region and all over Senegal. There is also a lack of essential resources for students throughout the school days, such as food. Thiam says that more schools in Senegal need to be provided with the proper financial and staff support. As a result, the Senegalese school day would improve dramatically. This improvement would be made in the teachings and the spirits of the teachers and students alike.

Noko-Boko is a community-run organization that started in 2018. Every year, it has made incredible efforts to help rebuild and reform schools, orphanages and individual lives of children from Zahra’s village and surrounding towns of the Kaolack region. In the 2018 to 2019 school year, the organization raised $413 to buy school supplies providing a kit to each of the 300 students. These kits consisted of a notebook, three pens, three pencils and geometric tools. Zahra Thiam says that access to quality education is the way to help these Senegalese children out of the oppressive cycle of poverty. It is also a way of showing them that there is so much that the world has to offer and so much that they can offer to the world. Her dedication to raising the quality of education and life for young children in her community is remarkable.

What is Noko-Boko’s Future?

COVID-19 had a detrimental effect on Senegal. With many Senegalese children without a home and many living in orphanages, the need for sanitary supplies is dire. A generous $400 donation from the president of Noko-Boku gave over 100 children clean diapers and disinfectant cleaners. It also gave them wearable garments for physical protection. Although these funds went a long way, Noko-Boku needs people worldwide to have a more profound effect on underprivileged and impoverished children living in the Kaolack region of Senegal. There is a Noko-Boku GoFundMe page with more information on how to help.

 Overall, in the final words of Zahra Thiam, “Changing the level of opportunities and treatment of children in Senegal starts with community action and advocacy. However, we cannot conquer the injustices in education, housing, hunger and abuse alone. We need help from individuals around the world with an open heart to hear and aid the needs of these innocent bright lives to create a better future and more equitable world.”

– Nicolettea Daskaloudi
Photo: Flickr

Helping Children Off the Streets
In French, SAMU stands for “Service d’Aide Médicale Urgente,” meaning “Urgent Medical Services.” However, Samu Social is something very different. Samu Social works with the homeless and the impoverished to maintain and restore social bonds, to deliver entertainment and education and to deliver basic medical and food-related services. One of its most significant missions is helping children off the streets in Senegal.

Samu Social denotes a comprehensive approach to helping the world’s poor that places a huge emphasis on social interaction. Dr. Xavier Emmanuelli founded Samu Social in Paris in 1993. In 1998, Dr. Emmanuelli founded the umbrella organization Samu Social International. One branch of the Samu Social International that deserves a spotlight is Samu Social Senegal. This organization mainly operates in the capital city of Dakar and focuses on the plight of young street children, most of whom are talibé.

A Dangerous History of Exploitation

In West Africa in particular, there is a strong tradition of young children becoming talibé, students of the Quran who study with a marabout, a Quranic teacher. Senegal is 95.5% Muslim, and marabout can wield immense power and influence not just in the religious world, but in politics and business as well. As a result, the Senegalese view sending one’s child to study with a marabout at a daara, a Muslim school, one of the few avenues to success and prosperity.

To be sure, there are many good marabouts in Senegal who do not exploit their charges and faithfully impart their knowledge of the Quran. That being said, Human Rights Watch estimates that over 100,000 talibé must beg for food and money every day in Senegal. Beyond that, it is thought that many talibé who remain in the daara are subject to extreme abuse, malnutrition and lack of medical care. The problem has reached epidemic proportions, with President Mack Sall vowing to “remove children from the streets.” However, the extreme power and influence of many marabouts have hampered government efforts.

How Samu Social Senegal is Making a Difference

Enter Samu Social Senegal which, as a part of Samu Social International, “reaches out to the most desocialized people who have been pushed into a state of basic survival, as they have become ‘victims’, no longer able nor willing to seek ordinarily available assistance.” In Senegal, those people are often talibé, set adrift in the big city of Dakar with no guidance other than the imperative to beg. Samu Social Senegal helps these children primarily in two ways: with street rounds and accommodation.

Samu Social Senegal has two Mobile Assistance Teams (MAT) composed of a social worker, a physician and a driver. These teams drive around Dakar day and night, five days a week, amounting to more than 350 rounds per year. They do this to identify and help at-risk and vulnerable children. The MATs receive extensive training to accomplish four main missions:

  1. Medical assistance, both on the spot and in the form of referrals to hospitals.
  2. Psychosocial support, identifying vulnerable children, and responding to them constructively.
  3. Preventative education, focusing on general health, STDs, and substance abuse.
  4. Paving a way out of the street, helping rehabilitate children and reinsert them into a healthy social and professional atmosphere.

The MATs have seen success in Dakar by identifying nearly 8,000 children each year. Moreover, they distribute nearly 6,000 nutritional support packs each year along with the conducting of over 2,500 individual medical and social interventions.

How Samu Social Senegal Aids Children

However, this is only half of the work that Samu Social Senegal does in its mission of helping children off the streets. Some of its most important work is the providing of accommodations to children who are physically or psychologically vulnerable. Samu Social Senegal accommodations provide comprehensive support medically, socially and psychologically. They place a huge emphasis on rehabilitation of the body and mind using not only medical and psychological practices, but also more basic methods such as compulsory controlled social interaction, games, and artistic activities. Samu Social Senegal hosts up to 600 children each year, providing about 30,000 meals.

Ultimately, this is necessary to get children off the street, rehabilitate them and then reintegrate them into healthy and productive members of society. While it can be difficult to evaluate what it means to leave the street behind, Samu Social has helped reunite 521 families between 2016-2018, a success rate of 96.5%. Furthermore, it estimates that since 2004, 1,500 children have left the street in a “durable” way.

The problem of street children is a catastrophe not only in Senegal or West Africa but across the world. Such pervasive, entrenched practices and people can only undergo reform through the government. In the meantime, however, it is incredibly important to provide these children with the resources they need to rehabilitate. Samu Social Senegal should receive commendation for its excellent work helping children off the streets.

Franklin Nossiter
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Senegalese Female Farmers
In a remote village in Senegal, female farmers are banding together to save their village from drought, famine and environmental difficulties. Local Senegalese farmers are struggling with food insecurity, and available land has dwindled. As a result, men are leaving the village to search for opportunities elsewhere. However, one of the biggest problems is the recent decrease in water supply due to rain shortages. Thanks to innovative efforts by these Senegalese female farmers, however, conditions are improving.

Food Insecurity and Environmental Changes in Senegal

Increasing changes to the environment are affecting farmland at an unprecedented rate, with Senegal being one of its main targets. Predictions determine that environmental factors will displace almost 1 billion people by 2050. Rural communities in Senegal and other parts of Africa feel these effects the most. In response to these challenges, Senegalese female farmers have made it their priority to create more sustainable lives. This has proved especially challenging given the little farmland and resources available to them.

While female Senegalese farmers make up a majority of the workforce, they have relatively little access to farmland and other resources. The dwindling supply of farmland does nothing to help this issue. Two and a half million people in Senegal might fall into food insecurity within the next year. Thus, there are a number of initiatives developing to help empower female farmers.

The Solutions

Some of these initiatives include providing women with access to farming equipment and machinery that allows them to tend to their crops more efficiently. Furthermore, educating women on nutrition and self-sufficient farming methods also helps them to become better contributors to their local economy. Many of these women share their knowledge with women in other villages, spreading the impact of their farming efforts. The wide-reaching impact of word of mouth combined with guidance from various nonprofits has helped struggling populations in Senegal by giving them the tools they need to improve their farming techniques.

Since most men in these villages leave for better opportunities, women are left behind to take care of children and provide for themselves. It places an almost unbearable burden on women to be left behind by men in a society in which it is nearly impossible to succeed without them. However, Senegalese women have still managed to come together in order to challenge pre-existing gender norms.

Remaining Barriers and Steps Forward

In spite of numerous obstacles, these women have managed to succeed in cultivating new farmland and revitalizing the local economy. There are still many barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential. For instance, women produce 80% of the food in the country but have virtually no rights or political power. Nonetheless, recent developments seek to ensure the continued presence and support of women in the agriculture sector in Senegal. These include providing women with plots of land and enabling them to travel to other areas for business. After seeing the positive changes taking place in their communities, men have started to return to their wives. The success of these Senegalese female farmers illustrates how, with the right tools and guidance, women in developing countries can create better lives for themselves and their families.

Xenia Gonikberg
Photo: Flickr

Women in Senegal
One of the most crucial needs for countries around the world is widespread renewable energy access. In Senegal, limited energy access in rural areas has impeded economic development for years, with only 44% of households in rural Senegal having access to electricity in 2018. With such a lack of access, rural communities are limited to rudimentary energy sources such as wood-burning fires for cooking, lighting, warmth and other needs. For rural Senegalese businesses, renewable energy could dramatically improve food production and work efficiency. For example, instead of drawing water from a well one bucket at a time, farmers in Senegal could simply use a solar-powered water pump, saving a lot of time and expending far less physical energy.

Rural agricultural businesses, like market gardens, are in dire need of these technology upgrades as well as equal energy access between rural men and women. Market gardening is a popular agricultural technique utilized by smaller-scale farmers in Senegal, and most of the market gardening businesses are run by women. In fact, women in Senegal comprise 70% of the total rural employment workforce, making them the cornerstone of the country’s agricultural and livestock farming sectors. The empowerment campaign Energy 4 Impact is supporting rural women not only in their pursuit of widespread access to clean and renewable energy but also in the promotion of women’s autonomy and equality.

Energy 4 Impact’s “Energy Opportunities for Women in Senegal” Project

Energy 4 Impact is a non-profit organization partnering with local businesses to extend access to energy in Africa. It is working alongside Siggil Jigeen, a non-governmental organization that promotes and protects women’s rights in Senegal through the Energy Opportunities for Women in Senegal Project. The project aims not only to supply rural communities in Senegal with sustainable, efficient energy, but also to increase women’s contribution across the entirety of Senegal’s energy value chain. The project is active within the Tambacounda and Kedougou regions in Senegal, marked by characteristically high poverty and unemployment rates, low access to electricity, the dependence on solid fuel, the high level of working poor and the untapped potential for agricultural development.

So far, the program has empowered over “250 women-led Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs)” in rural areas. It hopes that by increasing the presence of sustainable energy sources, more economic opportunities will manifest themselves for women-run agricultural operations. The project has provided Senegalese women and women-run MSEs with reusable energy technologies (solar-powered pumps, solar lamps and freezers) and improved equipment for crop treatment. Besides supplying equipment, the project has held seminars providing women in Senegal with key entrepreneurial information that further empowers them as businesswomen. The project teaches business skills like record keeping, using financial services, networking and business autonomy, among others. Women are at the heart of Senegal’s agricultural scene, and this empowerment campaign has further secured their position as the country’s main actors along the energy value chain.

Project Impact

The project’s impact on women in Senegal is significant. A study found that married women entrepreneurs who participated in the project were more directly involved in decision-making, household investments/spending and health than other married women. Moreover, it was noted that most of the women who attended the informational seminars were more cognizant of “women’s energy needs,” their part in the energy sector and the numerous benefits yielded by actively participating in the country’s energy sector.

The Energy Opportunities for Women in Senegal Project has made tremendous progress by disseminating useful information and energy technologies throughout rural Senegal, but the country’s fight for energy is far from over. Energy access gender gaps and low female employment rates still plague Senegal’s urbanized areas. However, Energy 4 Impact has given hundreds of businesswomen in Tambacounda and Kedougou the tools needed to reach out to other women throughout Senegal, and hopefully empower them in the same way that they have been.

Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr

Forced Child Begging
In many impoverished countries, especially Greece, India and Senegal, forced child begging is prominent. This practice means that parents or another group of adults will send children out on the streets to beg for money from tourists. With the COVID-19 virus, tourism has decreased drastically. This means that these children no longer have anyone to beg from, which is both good and bad. Child begging is very damaging to the children forced into it, but it is also how many families suffering from extreme poverty sustain themselves. Here’s what the impact of COVID-19 means for both child beggars and their families.

The Problem

Forced-begging is incredibly damaging for children. Not only does it put them in dangerous situations and leave them vulnerable to abuse, but it also keeps them out of school. If a child is being forced to beg by an adult who is not their parent, it can lead to them being separated from their families. Since this practice involves child trafficking, it is hard to record exactly how many children are victims of forced begging, and very little data exists on the issue.

While data in forced begging is almost non-existent, data on general child labor is more plentiful. Forced-begging takes place primarily in impoverished countries. In fact, child labor in general is overwhelmingly a sign of a poor country. According to data published by the United Nations Children’s Fund, in the world’s poorest countries, just over one in four children is involved in child labor. While this statistic may look bleak, it also means that if these countries were to become more developed, child labor would likely become drastically less prevalent.

An Unfortunate Necessity

Forced begging is also how many families keep themselves fed. In the era of COVID-19, child beggars face a number of hardships. First, they are at risk of catching the disease. These children spend much of the day on the crowded streets where they are exposed to many people and their risk of contracting the virus is higher. Second, there is hardly anyone left to beg from. According to data published by the World Tourism Organization, the change in international tourism in April 2020 was -97%. These families have lost a major source of their income, in a time when their country’s economy is likely struggling, especially if that economy relied heavily on tourism.

Solutions

The human rights organization Anti-Slavery has been fighting to end forced child begging for almost a decade. The organization works specifically to end forced child begging in Senegal, where child begging is commonly perpetuated through Koranic schools, where students’ schoolmasters will often require that the children beg. The organization has been working to get the government of Senegal to recognize how drastic the problem of forced child begging is, and to take action to prevent it.

Making sure that education is available to child beggars is also a vital step in getting these children off the streets. The World Bank has been working to support Senegal’s government in its efforts to improve education and bring education to poorer areas.

The drop in tourism hurting the forced child begging industry is both a positive and a negative; it could leave families without income, but it could allow child beggars a chance to get an education and stay off the streets. However, this outcome is only possible if education is available. When the tourism industry begins to grow again, it is vital that these children don’t return to the streets.

Sophia Gardner
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Senegal
The Republic of Senegal, located just off the West African coast, has one of the most stable economies in the region, but there are surprisingly high unemployment and poverty rates. With a population of 15.85 million, 39% of Senegal’s citizens are living in poverty. Senegal is one of many nations that rely solely on rain seasons for resources and goods to sell – when the rain does not come, crops cannot be harvested, sold or traded. Lack of rain can also start brush fires that destroy crops and shock rural towns into food insecurity. All of these factors contribute to a system of poverty and hunger that must be addressed. Here are 6 facts about hunger in Senegal.

6 Facts About Hunger in Senegal

  1. In 2014, the Malabo Declaration was signed at the Summit of the African Union. It planned to end food insecurity in Senegal by the year 2025, with a focus on malnutrition among children. The World Food Program is also partnering with local organizations to monitor and analyze food and nutrition insecurity.
  2. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #2 was proposed at the same Summit of the African Union. Its goal is to eliminate hunger in all forms by 2030. This will be achieved by setting in place sustainable solutions such as high-quality farming equipment that allows farmers to sell goods for higher prices at markets. Prices often fluctuate due to the quality of the crops being sold, so better equipment allows for consistently better quality goods, bringing more income to rural towns.
  3. Special food distributions are being delivered to the elderly and disabled in all 14 regions of Senegal by the World Food Program. The program is also actively working toward expanding rural developments and safety net programs that cover all citizens considered food or income insecure. This will greatly benefit the fight against hunger in Senegal.
  4. Organization Action Against Hunger provided nearly 14,000 people in Senegal with access to clean water and nearly 23,000 people with food security and safety net livelihood programs following a significant drought in 2018. Action Against Hunger sent out emergency response teams to distribute as many resources to affected areas as possible. This will ultimately aid over 62,000 people in Senegal.
  5. As larger cities begin to urbanize, poverty-ridden rural towns are often left behind. The most particularly affected by this shift in modernization are women, children and elderly people living in these small rural towns. They are the most vulnerable to food insecurity and further complications.
  6. In Tambacounda, an app was developed for farmers by Senegal’s government and international partners. The app allows them to track the weather and prepare to protect crops from any incoming storms. Additionally, it provides insight into animal health and personal nutrition.

Hunger in Senegal has been an increasingly pressing issue over the last two decades. Currently, Senegal is one of seven African countries that have succeeded in reducing food insecurity and malnutrition; since the year 2000, malnutrition in the nation has been lowered by 56%. Reduction of hunger and malnutrition remains Senegal’s main priority; analysis has shown that the education of farmers in nutrition and efficient farming practices has contributed towards this goal. There is still much work to be done, but great strides have been made.

Kim Elsey
Photo: Flickr

Reproductive Healthcare in SenegalThe country of Senegal has made major strides over the past 10 years for access and care in women’s reproductive and maternal health. Here are some initiatives and four recent centers that have opened to provide women with reproductive healthcare in Senegal in both rural and urban settings.

Reproductive Healthcare Barriers for Senegalese Women

Senegal’s healthcare system is not free to the public. If one does not have the funds to pay for their needed care, they are refused treatment. With more than 50% of Senegal’s population in poverty, only 32.5% of births are performed with a healthcare professional, making the maternal death rate one in 61 women.

Senegalese women are averaged to have at least four children, which is often a result of early forced marriage and the patriarchal family structure. Young women are limited from attaining an education, inhibiting their ability to gain knowledge and power over their reproductive and maternal health.

Over 77% of Senegalese women who desire sexual contraception such as birth control, do not have access to that resource. This has led to unplanned pregnancies for women 20 years old and younger. Additionally, most young women do not receive sexual education in school or at home. This results in less than a third of women in Senegal having a comprehensive understanding of HIV/AIDs or how to protect themselves from such diseases. Government initiation and non-profit organizations are improving these statistics. More women in Senegal are receiving resources and education for their reproductive healthcare.

The Maputo Protocol

Before the 2000s, there was no access to national government or international organizations’ reproductive health for Senegalese women. In 2005 Senegal signed the agreement of the African Charter of Human Rights and Rights of Women, known as the Maputo Protocol, declaring Senegalese women’s reproductive health to be a “universal human right” that must be protected. Following the Maputo Protocol, the Senegalese healthcare system began providing contraception as well as pregnancy and STI testing for women over the age of 15.

4 Centers and Initiatives for Women’s Reproductive Healthcare in Senegal

  1. Keur Djiguene Yi Center: The Keur Djuguene Yi Center is the first public OBGYN clinic in Dakar, Senegal that provides complete reproductive and maternal care to women who cannot afford or have access to government-provided healthcare options. Opening its doors in 2017 with the help of Dr. Faye, the lead gynecologist on-site, more women than ever before in Senegal now have access to pre and post-natal exams, “education on contraception, HIV prevention, family planning and infant immunization,” free of cost. Dr. Faye has been consciously expanding on the center, adding another full-time gynecologist in 2019. She hopes to expand the center to operate at full capacity with an entire team of OBGYN professionals to help four times the number of patients the Keur Djiguene Yi Center services currently.

  1. VOICES mHealth Program: The World Health Organization partnered with the Voices project, created an initiative for reproductive and maternal awareness in Senegal. The VOICEmHealth Program uses voice messages to spread the word about openings of women’s healthcare centers as well as education on maternal care and child-feeding practices. The project works with Bajenu Gox, known as “community godmothers,” to extend the amount of knowledge and power for young women through home visits and information on their healthcare during and after their pregnancy to reach women who do not have access to a cellular device. Voices mHealth program is a highly effective project in its ability to have immediate, trusted contact with Senegalese women living in both rural and urban communities.

  1. Le Korsa: Le Korsa is a nonprofit organization that empowers communities and healthcare centers in Senegal to improve their provided healthcare with grants and educational resources. One of the organization’s most impactful recent projects was in 2017 when Le Korsa began the renovation of the Tambacounda Hospital’s Maternity and Pediatric Units. The project is expected to finish in 2021, providing more enhanced and comfortable care to the 47,000 annual visitors.

  1. Bajenu Gox Project — Action Et Developpement: The Action Et Developpement organization in Senegal has made major strides in having increased community inclusion and education on women’s healthcare with a global lense. Partnering with the Bajenu Gox of the Kaolack, Fatick, Saint Louis, Louga and Dakar regions in 2015, the Bajenu Gox project has brought new, needed knowledge to rural and urban Senegal. The Bajenu Gox in these locations are now trained on how to talk about the prevention of  STI’s and HIV/AIDs in their local communities. They are bringing a new wave of education to young women and forever changing the empowerment of women in Senegal through awareness of their rights.

With the remarkable breakthroughs in women’s reproductive healthcare in Senegal, women now have access to centers and initiatives. The foundation for a new perspective, action and approach towards the autonomy of a women’s health and reproductive system in Senegal is now able to grow and flourish.

– Nicolettea Daskaloudi

Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in SenegalSenegal is often seen as a stable country politically and economically relative to its neighbors in the West African region. This perception has been further validated in the last decade with its peaceful elections and a GDP growth averaging approximately 6% since 2014. Still, the country is not without its challenges. Though poverty hasn’t been measured since 2011, it is estimated that around 39% of the population lives below the poverty line. Homelessness in Senegal is a major consequence of poverty that needs urgent attention, especially amid COVID-19.

Street Youths of Dakar

In Senegal, homelessness especially affects many children. In the capital city of Dakar, which has a population of 1.06 million people, an estimated 40,000 street youths are without shelter. Some of these children are Talibes. Talibes are “youths from Koranic schools known as daaras who are forced to beg for money. There are also those who fled such schools. Others come from broken families or have lost their homes because of poverty.”

Recently COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown have exasperated the lives of these homeless children in Senegal. The thin protection these children once had in small generosities from restaurants and pedestrians have been erased as services and public pedestrian presence have gone dormant for lockdown. Lackluster sanitation and drug usage compound the street youths’ vulnerable position amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As of early July 2020, Senegal has reported thousands of cases of COVID-19 and under 100 deaths.

Helping Hands

In April, Senegal’s Ministry of Family launched a coronavirus emergency plan for street children, opening up about 13 educational social centers and other venues in Dakar. Outside of government support, NGOs like the French-Senegalese Village Pilote has aided homeless children in Dakar sprung into action. Village Pilote offers homeless children in Senegal meals and shelter as well as space for recreation. Issa Faye, a 19-year-old living on the street told Reuters: “Because of the disease people were avoiding us, we had problems getting (medical) treatment, and also the police kept running after us. Only this centre accepts children and youngsters our age and from the streets…”

Value of Aid

COVID-19 highlights how easily vulnerable demographics such as the homeless street youths of Senegal can be left behind without consideration, underscoring the value of aid. Supporting funding for the International Affairs Budget to address the consequences of the pandemic is also essential to protecting the health, security and economic interests of all Americans.

– Caleb Hughes
Photo: Flickr

Ending Youth Unemployment in Africa
There is an issue of youth unemployment in Africa. Young people make up 60% of all unemployed people in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also one of the continents with a changing age demographic from older to younger individuals. An added disconnect is that of those who are working, 82% of them are still in vulnerable employment situations. In addition, wages may not even be enough to survive. If Senegal can get some of the 50,000 talibes, mostly young boys who beg on the streets, then Senegal can continue being a leading economically driven country.

Aspyre Africa

Aspyre Africa is an organization that works in Senegal, specifically Saint-Louis, with young men and women to end youth unemployment in Africa. It is attempting to develop a robust, sustainable and replicable model of services and quality vocational training. As a result, it should be able to secure the futures of countless economically disadvantaged young people in Africa.

Aspyre originally emerged in 2014. It focuses on talibes who are boys on the street with very limited job opportunities due to a lack of formal training.

Aspyre Africa’s Actions

The organization has successfully trained 18 talibes between the ages of 15 to 25 in horticulture. After the initial training, Aspyre Africa continues to support the youth until they have a stable income through various agricultural pursuits. Aspyre is stepping up its assistance in the community by providing a social worker and a career advisor for vulnerable students and alumni at a government-run vocational training center. Also, additional money from the organization is going towards essential equipment and helping talibes set up their own businesses.

Sustainable Livelihoods Project

With the original cohort of 18 talibes having passed their 10-month vocational training at the center, Aspyre Africa began a new venture of constructing a chicken coop. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides funding for a project to provide chickens in Sub-Saharan Africa as an agricultural venture to be successful. Chickens can result in a $300 yearly income increase. Chickens are valuable to Sub-Saharan communities because they produce eggs that are an essential key to getting nutrients and protein.

Youth Entrepreneurs Project

The work in Senegal is the perfect example of the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. In this instance, raising loosely means supporting. Aspyre Africa has been able to support 18 talibes by partnering with other organizations in order to secure funding, build the center and chicken coop and train the youth. Through these partnerships, Aspyre has seen how sometimes it can be prohibitive to its ultimate goal of uplifting youth.

Starting out, Aspyre helped provide the training for agriculture and horticulture as well as funding for necessary equipment to end youth unemployment in Africa. After the first cohort of trainees, it saw that other organizations either provided training or financial support for participants to start a business. In the past two years, it has transitioned into implementing a program to provide support from the start of training to the start of an individual’s small business. By regularly following up and tailoring training to youth’s interests and skills, along with 2 hectares of land on loan for 2 years to start their business, Aspyre Africa has ensured that each participant can be successful with continued participation.

– Cassiday Moriarity
Photo: Flickr