A hundred children are living at an educational centre set up in St Louis, north-west Senegal, thanks to the UEFA Foundation for Children support for Unis Vers Le Sport.
An estimated 100,000 Senegalese children must fend for themselves living on the streets.
Many street children come from one-parent families. Some are orphans. Others are abandoned because of a disability. Each is a child of poverty. Left to care for themselves, they spend their early lives looking for food and a roof to sleep under. Some turn to violence or substance abuse to escape a desperate existence.
Even children still living with Senegal’s poorest families face a tough start to life. An estimated one in two drop out of school at an early age, either to perform household chores or supplement their parent’s income by working in the fields.
Key player: Unis Vers Le Sport
Since 2018, the UEFA Foundation for Children has been working alongside Unis Vers Le Sport (UVS), a French-based organisation that runs education and integration programmes involving sport to help improve the lives of Senegalese children.
With Foundation support, Unis Vers le Sport (UVS) has set up an educational centre in north-west Senegal to give street children the opportunity to change their lives. Located in the city of Saint Louis, near the mouth of the Senegal river, the centre offers classrooms and sleeping facilities for 100 children.
Those local street children can sleep at the centre and attend school. Thanks to an indoor sports court and a football pitch, they can also enjoy regular sports activities together with 5,000 local schoolchildren.
UVS use sports to promote local health campaigns and raise awareness of children’s rights.
Expert verdict: Khalilou Fadiga
“This is a fantastic initiative which is providing valuable assistance to children who need a helping hand in life,” said former Senegal international Fadiga, who is enrolled on UEFA’s Executive Master for International Players (MIP) programme. “Having access to good education is vital. It gives children the chance to develop their creativity and imagination while laying down a path to a future career.”
“I am an example that you’re never too old to learn. Following the end of my career, I decided to resume my studies in order to provide myself with the key skills needed for the next steps in my life.”