A testimony by Junior Joao Malaca, social worker of the project “Investing in the future: protection and training of return migrants and unaccompanied minors” co-financed by Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. Amadou is a fantasy name used to safeguard the minor’s privacy.
Amadou, a 13 years old boy, is an orphan and the youngest of four brothers. Together with one of his brothers, he is part of the Sao Domingos Badoora community, in the Bafatà region (Guinea-Bissau), where he arrived in November after a delicate advocacy operation (boundaries were closed because of Covid-19 pandemic).
Amadou has a story made of suffering and exploitation, as many children in Guinea-Bissau who had not the luck to be born in a well-off family. Some years before, Amadou’s big sister, that took care of the family after their parents’ death, had decided to send him to study in Senegal, from a presumed Koranic master (Tcherno) who made sure to take care of the boy.
Amadou did not want to go and even tried to flee, but there was no hope, because the master came himself to take him away. However, when the boy arrived in Senegal, he immediately understood that the reality he was going to face up to was way worse than he expected.
As a matter of fact, Amadou did not study Koran, nor he improved his education, but passed time begging in the middle of the street, hoping to raise money to deliver to his torturer and to possibly keep something for himself to buy food. So, he passed 3 years like this, livind in a small house in Dakar with other 10 children that were in the same situation.
But in June 2020, the Senegalese government, worried for the pandemic, imposed a curfew and ordered that all the people living on the street were to be taken to safety. So, one day, taking advantage of his guardians’ distraction, Amadou escaped and was then found by some RAO members, that are in charge of minor protection in the area.
Amadou then told us that if he had been caught by his torturers he would have been beaten up, but that was a usual treatment for those who did not collect enough money at the end of the day and so it was worthy to try to escape.
The boy, after this terrible experience, reintegrated in community, he plays with other children and participates to activities. He even returned to attend a small mosque in the village because even at home it is possible to learn Koranic teachings.
Mani Tese has delivered to Amadou school supplies and payed him a year of enrollment in a school near the village, that he is going to attend everyday with his bicycle, made available by AMIC association. In the next months, we will monitor the situation thanks to the phone we have given to his brother. We have also talked with his school teacher and have realized other tasks.
Since project “Investing in the future” started, more than 150 talibé guineense children located in Senegal. Our commitment is to take care of all of them and so there is still a lot do.
Some photos of Joao, social worker of the project, together with Amadou and his big brother.
Some photos of Sao Domingos Badoora community.