Dakar.- Reported by a population that fears pollution and prosecuted by the police charged with enforcing the curfew, children and adolescents living on the streets of Dakar resort to an association to regain strength and escape the coronavirus. In the Senegalese capital of more than three million inhabitants, where luxury residences coexist with overcrowded neighborhoods, hundreds, even thousands, sometimes as young as five years old live on the street.
They broke up with their families, fled the abuses of a Koranic teacher or joined the street simply for «thirst for freedom,» explains Cheikh Diallo, one of the leaders of Village Pilote, a French-Senegalese association that has helped them for nearly 30 years. They live from small jobs, theft or begging, sleeping the same on the street or in buildings under construction. But since coronavirus appeared in this West African country, polluting about 300 people so far and killing two, «begging doesn’t work,» says 18-year-old Bamba Seck. This young man usually spends his days and nights near the Palace of Justice and Rebeuss prison, at the gates of the historic and administrative center of Dakar.In the shadow of the acacias
In a country where a rumor of pollution can quickly burn a neighborhood, people «started to distrust us» when «a boy (from the neighborhood) was suspected of having the coronavirus,» says Bamba, sitting in the shadow of an acacia at the Village reception center Pilote.Al just like another hundred street children, took refuge days ago on this vast land that looks like a holiday camp , located in a landscape of dunes and baobabs near The Pink Lake, an hour’s drive north of Dakar.In the capital, the restaurants that gave these poor young people some food are closed or worked little for almost a month. And the passers-by who gave them alms depart from them, explains a responsible for the association, for whom they live an unprecedented «calamity». The young people contacted by AFP complain mainly that law enforcement forces responsible for enforcing the night-time curfew mercilessly evict them from the places where they usually stayed.» They play cat and mouse with the police, they hide, they have nowhere to sleep. They are very tired,» says Cheikh Diallo, head of the village Lago Rosa.Quarantine, rest and rugby
To prevent the spread of the virus, the association decided not to host new inmates and organized food distributions on the streets of Dakar.But in the face of the claim of the boys decided to reopen its doors, putting the newcomers in quarantine for two weeks and separating the little ones from the large. Every morning a nurse takes their temperatures. The rest of the day, they rest in cute ochre brick buildings, on mattresses on the floor. Older people improvise tattoos, while others make passes with a rugby ball or wash their clothes with water from a well. At the end of the health crisis, they will be able to return to the streets, try to contact their families or stay in Village Pilote to follow literacy courses or training in hospitality, carpentry or mechanical trades. Ansu Sané, 19, is part of the quarantined group, composed only of boys. Five years after leaving Casamance in the south of the country, this apprentice chauffeur until recently accompanied passenger buses, perched in the back of the vehicle.
But since the establishment of the state of emergency, traffic between Senegal’s regions has been interrupted and «wins nothing,» he says. He is very careful to wash his hands and cares about his family, who stayed at Casamance. If «God wants me to grab the coronavirus, there’s nothing I can do,» says fatalist. You might also be interested: They rob schools in South Africa during covid-19Miles quarantine of millions of locusts invade Africa, link it to blilic pests
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