Play for Peace Senegal, in partnership with Yaakar Senegal, kicked off their Giving Games in western Pikine, a county of the Dakar region that more than a million people call home. The event spanned 12 days and reached upwards of 100 children over the course of that time, using play as a universal language to transcend cultural boundaries.
They started off each day with lively action songs (including a popular one entitled ‘My Friend You are Good’), before moving on to other challenges and problem-solving activities. Amongst other fellowship-building exercises, participants played ‘Pass the Tiffin,’ a musical chairs-like game in which children bring snacks and share them with each other. By partaking in food they might not be accustomed to, the children are challenged to see past their differences and appreciate diversity.
In the spirit of unity and collaboration, these games were made possible through partnership with a number of other organizations also working to uphold children’s rights. For example, one day models were brought from Pro-Style, a Dakar-based model management agency that showcases West African style. The models cat-walked and talked with students at the open-air theatre where Pro-Style staged their ‘Fashion Design Africa’ show.
Furthermore, in conjunction with Citoyen des Rues and Action Enfance Senegal, PFP Senegal organized ‘Walks for Peace’ centered around two important community issues: child begging and unsanitary conditions.
According to Human Rights Watch, as many as 50,000 children beg in the streets of Senegal
, and many of them are talibés
, or students at Quranic boarding schools. A lack of state support leaves the schools with no other alternative but to make children panhandle. Instead of paying tuition they are often forced to beg for money and food, sometimes as long as five hours a day. This often leads to abusive and exploitative working conditions in which children seldom have access to medical care, let alone play time. Organizations like Yaakar, Action Enfance, and Citoyen des Rues offer these things and more, giving children a happy alternative. Facilitating such difficult conversations is an important step towards ending these practices altogether.
Poor waste management is another issue that plagues Senegal.
Recently, the government launched the And Defar Sunu Gox
program (‘repair our cities’ in Wolof) to mitigate this problem in various cities. But although sanitation services have been improving, Senegal hasn’t quite met its MDG target. In addition to improving infrastructure and facilities, an integral aspect of advancing community hygiene involves changing attitudes through public awareness campaigns. In keeping with these efforts, the PFP walk strove to educate children about the risks that unsanitary conditions pose to public health and the environment.
Over the course of the Giving Games, students participated in activities intended to inspire compassion for oneself, others, and the environment, fostering a heightened sense of peace and cooperation in their community. In reflecting on the games, one student wrote a poem about her feelings:
“The Peace” by Ms. Aminata Sow
La Paix me Here
La Paix me Here
La Paix me Here
I share my bread, I share my snack.
Long live solidarity
I share my candy, I share my cakes
Long live the friendship
To my friends, hand in hand for peace.
Long live solidarity for peace