With our observers in Dakar (1/3): the teacher who repaired dilapidated schools

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In Dakar, three of our observers mobilize on a daily basis for young people, through their activism in education, ecology or work. In our new Direct Line, especially dedicated to the Senegalese capital, they tell us how they act for their city. Their initiatives not only raise awareness of fundamental issues, but also provide employment opportunities for young people. First part: Junior Diakhaté, a teacher who restores dilapidated schools.

At the age of 34, Mamadou Diakhaté, aka Junior, has already had years of citizen mobilization. In 2020, he took part in the launch of a network of volunteers to raise awareness about barrier gestures against Covid-19. It was at the end of the first wave of the pandemic in Senegal that he found his current calling: refurbishing schools. The click happened when he went to his childhood school to clean it, after being closed for two months for health reasons.

I saw the same toilets again, 20 years later… In the evening I tweeted some friends to help me get the equipment. The next day I found myself with over 250 stocks and a donor who had decided to fund and other schools called us up to say “please, we also have rundown toilets, come help us”. And since that day we don’t stand still.

Our full report:

With our observers in Dakar, mobilized for young people

Renovating the toilets is a priority for our Observer: “During their periods, many girls stay at home because they don’t have functional toilets, they miss classes, don’t perform well”. But with the team of volunteers that he has united around him in his association, he also restores entire classrooms, canteen areas, painting, roofing, and tables.

We are already trying to have an impact on the safety and comfort of these children, but also and above all on the results: we know that if a child is in an ideal environment of comfort and safety, he can learn well and will to succeed.

In two years, the dozens of volunteers from the Team Niintche (“niintche” means “man” in the Mandjak language, spoken in our observer’s region of origin) can claim to have restored 23 establishments and raised the equivalent of 150,000 euros. Mamadou Diakhaté originally funded herself by calling for donations to individuals on social networks, before attracting the attention of companies such as Auchan or Senegalese cleaning companies such as UCG.

“Do Your Part”

What stands out about Mamadou Diakhaté is his dedication. If he is not instructing his volunteers, if he is not himself with a paintbrush in his hand, he is on the phone, arranging the distribution in an establishment of school kits or computers, or preparing for future work. “I’m doing my part for the country,” says this teacher, who has noticed that even the academies are calling on him for work, aware that he will be faster than the Ministry of National Education.

When he returns to the establishments where he has worked, he is welcomed with open arms: “He’s great! He saved us!” enthuses an employee of the high school Ousmane Sembène in the Yoff district, where the Niintche team has renovated three classrooms, in extremis, to be able to conduct patent tests there. But two years later, roofs have already been damaged by erosion. “Everything here has to be destroyed and rebuilt,” Mamadou said, in consultation with the school’s headmistress. Of course, this requires strong financial support. For those looking for a concrete way to help education in Senegal, the message has come across.

>> Want to support Team Niintche?

You can donate to them on this platform. Or contact us via Facebook, Twitter or by email: juniordiakha@gmail.com.

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