Helping children in danger on the streets of DAKAR
Senegal is one of the poorest countries of
the world and 60% of the population is less than 25 years of age.
Dakar inevitably attracts people who are drawn to the city with
hopes of finding economic security, particularly children whose
only means of survival is begging or petty crime - and who often
turn to drugs in order to anaesthetize their suffering.
Urgency of contact, time for
Every day and night, Mobile Assistance Teams cruise the streets
of Dakar to provide emergency assistance for children: they administer
first aid, lend an ear, and provide psychosocial assistance and nutritional
A temporary shelter and drop-in centre for children was created
in November 2004. It is a place of medical and/or social transit that
can hold up to 20 beds and makes it possible to respond to emergency
situations. It constitutes a mid-point between the action on the street
(mobile teams) and attempts to return children to their families or,
if required, referral of children to partner institutions that can
care for the children over the long-term. During their stay at the
centre, children are supervised by social workers and, when necessary,
the Fann Hospitals child psychiatry ward may take responsibility
for their care.
Social interview in Dakar streets.
Medical care of children in the Samusocial van.
organises training seminars on normal and pathological psychology
of children and teenagers. This training is focused on the clinical
and psychopathological specificities of children and teenagers who
are in danger on the street or who have found refuge on
the street. It provides lessons on trauma, resilience, and paradoxical
over-adaptation, and deals with the relationship between young people
to language, to others (peers and adults), to time, and to space.
The objective is to enable social emergency professionals to better
adapt their practices to these social and psychological realities
and to obtain tools for assessment.
The different units are adapted to the Senegalese environment and
are organised around the following themes:
- Understanding children and teenagers who are in danger on the
streets: clinical and psychological aspects,
- Group formation and logic of the territory,
- Delinquency and drug addiction,
- Early pregnancy and family dissolution, pathology of mother-child
- The phenomenon of prostitution.
The first link in a chain of intervention with street children, samusocialSénégal
works in partnership with structures that take over from its action
within the framework of reintegrating street children into society.
It provides these structures with technical and material support in
order to reinforce the quality of the childrens care. The main
operational partners are hospitals, clinics, centres, associations,
and NGOs specialised in helping children in distress.