Children's shelter: Keur Xaleyi
The "street children" are one of the biggest concerns for Senegalese society. Thies, a crossroads city, is the second densest city after Dakar, and the number of street children is estimated between 30,000 and 40,000.
The phenomenon is on the rise, partly because of poverty and political unrest, but mainly because of the absence of a real child welfare policy, which makes children very vulnerable. These children are deprived of any social assistance and consider themselves "different." To survive, they engage in begging and heavy work. In the street, they are exposed to diseases and suffer other forms of violence such as child abuse, child trafficking, etc.
The topic is politically sensitive, making state action and mobilization of stakeholders difficult. Recognizing that the problem cannot be solved at the local level, Mayor Talla Sylla has made the issue of care for street children a priority of his local development policy. The Keur Xaleyi project aims to fight this problem and the social and political discrimination these street children are facing. The mayor wants to make the city of Thies a pioneer and a reference in the fight against the phenomenon of street children, and therefore these actions have a strategic and historical significance for the city.
The overall objective is to eradicate the phenomenon of street children in the city of Thies through the establishment of a shelter and strategies for the sustainable improvement of their livelihoods, in compliance to the rights of childhood. This objective is summarized in the slogan: "Teerou, Teral, Djangal Aare," which means, "To welcome, to take charge, to educate and to protect."
The project consists of initiating a local approach in Thies. Later, the experiences would be shared to stimulate other communities in Senegal to take action, and eventually, Senegal would develop a national strategy.
The Keur Xaleyi project was launched in partnership with the Centre for Promotion and Social Reintegration (CPRS) and the local community of the city of Thies. The project anticipates an implementation period of about 12 months’ work, with a budget of over 150 million CFA francs.
Through a strategy of identification and involvement of all potential actors, the city can already benefit from the synergy and solidarity of all the forces of the community of Thies (socio-economic and cultural stakeholders, leading religious figures, etc.). However, without appropriate facilities, this large-scale project could be jeopardized. The construction of shelters for street children is an essential condition for the implementation of the project and requires quick action, considering the necessity and urgency of its implementation.
Although the project is still in the first steps of its implementation, the initiative has the following Specific Objectives (SO) and results:
- Identifying and conducting a continuous census of all the street children in the city of Thies (set up of a monitoring committee for the identification of children).
- Implementing a large capacity shelter for children, with the proper equipment to facilitate mentoring, development, education and social inclusion of children.
- Establishing a sustainable policy of child support for the improvement of their living conditions by ensuring a framework guaranteeing all of their rights.
- Conduct a permanent awareness campaign with families and services involved on three levels of child protection: parental protection, administrative protection and judicial protection.
Supporting families affected by extreme poverty; and to ensure comprehensive care for the minors, either partial or total, depending on the needs.