Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yaay ak Doom

Gounass, Senegal.

Mai Yajate: four children, widow and I’m guessing around 55 years of age.

Ten years ago her quiet village life took a drastic turn. Mai’s husband, a truck delivery driver from Ziganshor to Kaolack, was kidnapped and killed by local rebels. She was left alone to fend for herself and family.

Mai’s older sister lived in Dakar, off she went to the capital to find warmth in the proximity of her family. Here she realized how such a small act of kindness from one person to another can do to change a life around. She saw how most of her neighbours needed just a little help, a little guidance. Thus in the sea of her own sadness she became inspired to help.

Yaay ak Doom (mother and child in Wolof) is painted on the exterior wall of a well kept building in Gounass. Any child can approach her humble office, a building she constructed out of her own pocket and effort, housing two classrooms for workshops and a small patio for children to play. She selfishly gives all of her time to help, and deals with everyone in an individual basis.

She started out with a small group of children, funding the activities by collecting 100 CFA’s (15 cents) every Thursday from neighbors. Over ten years have passed, and currently she directly helps 110 children. She pays tuition and school supplies for over fifty children. Since her help has exponentially grown, every Thursday she now asks for 500 CFA’s (76 cents).

Mai is a model of how an NGO should work. Transparent in her affairs, she attends meetings where money is donated to her cause with five other people. They walk, in order to save transportation cost, and presents herself with her co-workers so they can witness how much money is given.

More to follow.

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