The summer of 2007, photojournalist Joël López and the translator Anna Gentz traveled to Senegal (Africa) to make a documentary about the Africans who boarded ‘’pateras’’ (small boat, too much people board) to reach Spain. The documentary focused by tracking Aliou a Senegalese from Kaolack who wished to emigrate to Spain using this transport by sea. Days before the trip start someone entered in Aliou’s house and stole all their savings. Consequently, Aliou could not make the trip to Spain so the documentary was interrumped.
Joel and Anna after these events used his stay in Senegal to make a documentary about the life of the physically disabled in the city of Kaolack.
During the Project Aliou frequented the business who ran a small place, a ‘’tangana’’ (*). In his tangana worked Fatoumata, a very skinny, smiley girl. They asked about the status of this girl, seeing that apparently worked long hours and was not going to school. That led him to meet his two brothers Anta and Mustafá an her mother Mariam.
The family situation was very complex. The children’s father had died in a car accident and the mother tried to ensure family subsistence selling nuts but sales revenues were minimal so that the situation required that Fatoumata worked to contribute to the family economy. For social and economic reasons none of the three children had never been to school.
The main economic drivers of the city of Kaolack are the trade and transport of merchandise and the majority of the population are unqualified workers. The excess labor causes the salaries are unfairly low and this causes the subsistence is almost impossible.
Many families need help from the children in order to move forward so that in this economic context of schooling and absenteeing control non-priority. Facing of this reality familiar Joel ana Anna decided to take action to improve the quality of life of these children so their own family members so they contacted with family and friends to raise funds to invest in schooling.
The next step was to find a school where attendance was mandatory and controlled but in Kaolack these criteria school are private schools.
Near the house of the family had a private Catholic school where secular education was imparted. The school’s Principal was Sister Madeleine a nun in her fifties with lots of character; a condition or requirement to a Catholic woman with a responsible position in a patriarchal society and Muslim. After visiting the center and talk to the Principal, they saw that school was ideal for children but Sister Madeleine put many impediments to accept them. The Principal tested they to see if their intentions were true or was it just a penalty “tubab” (*) that soon forget those children and family illusionary Ba needlessy. But with firmness and determination got kids at school were finally accepted.
During school enrollment procedures emerged setbacks because children did not have any identification not even birth certificate. Also it was found that Anta was really the daughter of a friend of Mariam who was left in charge some years ago.
This practice is very widespread in Africa but is understandable because socio-economic context. Finally, after many visits to the City Council of Kaolack was able to get all the necessary documents and the children could start school. Months later they returned Europe and met with people who had participate in the process of education of children in the family Ba and they all decided legally constitute a socio Association that worked to make education become universal. So was born the socio “NOUSOL” Association.
(*) Translations of written words in the text in Wolof language:
Tangana.- It means ’Hot’. The Tangana local are very popular in Senegal where fast food is cooked with a gas stove or similar.
Tubab.- It means ‘White man‘