"I came to Dakar, Senegal in 2006 to take up an internship with the Mouvement Africain des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs (MAEJT). I initially planned to stay for 6 months but that became another 6 months and now I am still here working for them.
I was born and raised in Niamey, Niger. My father is Malian and my mother comes from Niger. I have moved a few times in my life. When I was 8 years old my parents sent me to Agadez in the north of Niger, where I lived there with my sister and her husband for 4 years. I liked it over there and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have gone to school — she helped me a lot. Due to our circumstances I couldn’t stay with her and returned to my mother in Niamey. My father was gone. I still don’t know what happened…
My family is pure blood Nigerien. We don’t let anyone sit back and let their life go to waste. My mum convinced me to pick up my studies or training so I started learning to be a carpenter. During those studies I got in touch with Caritas and the NGO Environment Development Action in the third world (ENDA). They visited one of the CARITAS workshops I was attending. They must have noticed that I was still young but very driven. I think they also saw I needed more guidance in order to develop my skills and so they put me in touch with MAEJT in Niger. This organisation informs children of their rights, helps them to battle poverty and creates a network of fraternity among African youth.
First I started volunteering with a lot of passion. I found something that I liked and that I was good at: coordinating and helping at the same time. Soon I participated in their training programs and then the big moment arrived: they asked me if I wanted to do an internship for 6 months in Dakar. Of course, I said yes.
I arrived in Dakar and moved in with a Senegalese host family. I had difficulties adapting at first, their lifestyle was different than mine. They like to get dressed up, and they dress well! They like to dream and they don’t give up, even when they don’t succeed. I admire that. One thing the Senegalese can learn from us is to waste less food. If a Senegalese person sees a rotten tomato he throws it away. In Niger, we keep it, cut out the bad parts, dry the rest and use it as food or sell it. We don’t let anything go to waste!
I have lived in Coeur Massar, close to Dakar, for 11 years now. I go back to Niger every year. I love my country and I like my work here in Senegal. I often compare the people of my home country to camels: endurance, always finding a solution and often on the move. The Senegalese are like lions: proud, graceful and full of energy. Except when it is too hot."