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Senegal - Seny, round-trip adventurer

21 September 2018

(ANS - Tambacounda) - "When we decide to travel, we never think we can die. The only desire that leads us to leave our homeland is to want a better life. We want to leave poverty ... So we close our eyes and launch ourselves on the adventure." It is the testimony of Seny Daillo, a young Senegalese who one day left his family and started a journey from Tambacounda to Lampedusa, Italy. What was the end of this story? What happened to his wish for a better life? The questions are many and the answers are in the few words and in the life itself of Seny.

Seny is just one of over 30,000 minors who came to Europe last year on their own, alone. According to UNICEF, around 28 million children worldwide are victims of forced displacement due to violence and wars.

Seny's journey was not from Dakar aboard a comfortable plane. He managed to survive in the desert and in the Mediterranean. After more than a month, he reached "the promised land" where he would have to find opportunities, work and a better future.

And why do so many young people leave Senegal? Poverty is alarming. This year the drought has left around 245,000 people without food. Boys and girls are among those who suffer the most. The definition given by the journalist José Naranjo de "El País" (Spain): "Senegal, the country of child beggars", is worrisome and difficult, but truthful.

In Senegal, Seny saw no opportunity to get out of poverty and hunger, and he had no hope. And those are the same motivations of most young people who decide to leave everything for an opportunity, even if it is thousands of miles away and puts their lives at risk.

Seny arrived in Lampedusa with nothing. "I had no money, no clean clothes, no food ... I was alone." Then a Salesian missionary took him to the Salesian Center of Aidone, where unaccompanied minors from Africa and the Middle East are welcomed. There he found a home and learned languages. For two years he worked as a cultural mediator. "But I have never forgotten my home," he says.

Thanks to Salesian missionaries in Senegal and the organization "Don Bosco 2000", Seny managed to return home. "I hope to convince other young people not to risk their lives and take risks, offering the prospect of starting small businesses or agricultural projects that help Senegal," he says.

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