A lab of knowledge for the youth of Rufisque

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Dani Sorolla
  • XamXamLab center wants to be a lab of knowledge for the youth of Rufisque.
    XamXamLab center wants to be a lab of knowledge for the youth of Rufisque. Source: Teranga.
  • The XamXamLab multifunctional center wants to integrate an interactive space that will deploy three essential lines of work.
    The XamXamLab multifunctional center wants to integrate an interactive space that will deploy three essential lines of work. Source: Teranga.
  • The rehabilitation of the Maison de l’Éclaireur facilities, is well under way
    The rehabilitation of the Maison de l’Éclaireur facilities, is well under way. Source: Teranga.

The association from Molins de Rei, Teranga, colaborates in the construction and opening of a multifunctional center in order to educate and encourage the job placement of the young people from this city in Senegal

La Maison de l’Éclaireur is a center with a long history in Senegal. Located in the coastal city of Rufisque, in the Dakar region, this center founded in the 1940s, has been, historically, a meeting place for scouts and young people, from where many activities have been promoted, and training has been provided to hundreds of young Senegalese who have passed through these classrooms.

Abdoulaye Fall was one of those young people who was part of the center. Between the ages of six and twenty-eight, he was scout and he keeps a bunch of good memories of that time in his life. "Personally, I have a very strong emotional bond with the Maison de l'Éclaireur and Rufisque," he told Xarxanet.

For more than twenty years, L’Abdoulaye has been living in Catalunya, in Molins de  Rei, where he arrived looking for a future that he did not see in his country. "In Senegal, the state does not reach everywhere and many young people who make a great effort to study later do not find any opportunity for them in the labor market, it is a very complicated situation," he says.

In Catalunya, he has been able to form a network and train himself. He has specialized in migration studies and social mediation and is a reference for many of his compatriots in our country. In 2003 he was one of the founders of the Teranga association, which promoted a group of Senegalese people from Molins de Rei.

Teranga: companionship and cooperation

The association has two central goals. First of all, to assist, guide and offer all kinds of support to newcomers, especially of sub-Saharan origin, who come to the city: “wehelp them with paperwork, intermediation, with the language, among many other things; and also with more material or financial needs. On the other hand, Teranga, which in the Wolof language means hospitality, also carries out cooperation projects in Senegal.

Through Teranga, Abdoulaye has been deeply involved in promoting solidarity and development projects in his country, taking special care of the most vulnerable sectors of the population. "The big challenge for Senegal, and for Africa, is that in general we have a very young population, almost 70% are under thirty, with all that that includes in terms of employability and training; Demographically, it is a huge challenge and this is where other problems and difficulties in the country come from, ”he said.

In terms of cooperation, the organization has focused on projects in relation to the field of education and health. They have worked with hospitals, orphanages and schools, while occasionally helping those in need. "For example, we have recentl provided assistance to an association of albinos in Senegal, to whom we have helped to buy hats, caps, sunscreens and other things they need", he said.

The XamXamLab center: a laboratory of knowledge

The latest project promoted by the organization is very special for Abdoulaye. The aim is to adapt and rehabilitate the installations, badly damaged over the years, of the Maison de "Éclaireur, where Abdoulaye had spent much part of his youth. To
transform it into a multifunctional center for young people XamXamLab, a knowledge laboratory that wants to implement a training and qualification program to contribute to the insertion of young people in a vulnerable situation through vocational training capsules and the incubation of entrepreneurship projects.

A task that the Molins de Rei entity carries out with the support of the Molins de Rei City Council and the Catalan Development Cooperation Fund. And is aimed at strengthening the action and leadership of local institutions and entities, such as the Association of Girl Scouts of Senegal (EDDS) and the National Committee for the Development of West African Education Networks (CNDREAO).

“In all our projects, also in this one, networking is absolutely crucial; all interventions must be carried out involving local people and associations, creating an ecosystem of actors and ensuring that the more people participate, the better, because it is the best guarantee of the viability and sustainability of the projects ", points out the president of Teranga.

The first phase of the project, which includes the rehabilitation of the Maison de l’Éclaireur facilities, is well under way. According to Abdoulaye, almost 90% of the work has been done and the renovation work is expected to be completed in June this year. The initial idea was that a group of volunteers from Catalonia would take part in the works through a work camp, but mobility restrictions as a result of the covid prevented this.

The next step in turning the Maison de l’Éclaireur into a multifunctional training center is to build it with the equipment needed to become a digital hub for innovation and project incubation. "There is a lack of computers, printers and technological equipment and we need them to train young people in areas such as computer science, office automation and screen printing, among others," says Abdoulaye.

Specifically, the multifunctional center XamXamLab wants to integrate an interactive space that will deploy three essential lines: a digital one to train young people; a promotion and factory one, where the creation of objects and projects will be promoted through digital materials and techniques such as laser cutting and 3D printing; and finally, one of innovation and incubation that encourages the research and development of micro-projects and micro-enterprises with a social impact on the territory.

A project that counts in the local youth

The president of Teranga emphasizes that the project, above all, must be of interest to young people in the area and offer them a job opportunity. This point has been taken into account when proposing the project, they agree from Teranga: “Now a days everything digital attracts young people, and we have a lot of interested people in learning about this field to set up your own business or find a job in this sector ”.

And it is that, for the Abdoulaye it is necessary to break with the idea that from Catalonia, or other countries of the North, projects are promoted that think that they will be good for the people of countries like Senegal, without considering, listen and involve the local population and know their needs. “It is necessary to address initiatives that respond to the needs of the population, and let them be the ones who plan, define and implement them; It's the only way to ensure that they are taken over and have a greater impact at all levels," he said.

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