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News inserted on 21/09/2010

Camp with the Street Children

SMSM SistersI arrived in Senegal eight months ago and am settling in well. In many ways I find it similar to my country, Bangladesh – lots of people, noisy, prayer five times a day over the loud speaker, the main food is rice and fish, etc. Before coming here I spent five months in Lyon, France and learned French. I continue to improve it here.

From last November I started to work one day a week in a Marist project with the street children where Sr Jeline is the assistant director. The street boys come to the Marist fathers’ house every Wednesday. There they have breakfast, lunch, an opportunity to shower, First Aid and other awareness activities. The other two days the animators visit them on the street. I have been enjoying working with them.

SMSM SistersRecently I went for a 10 day camp with the street boys. It was a combined camp with two other centres who also work with the street children. There were 46 boys aged from 5-18 years old. The programme included awareness seminars, education (family, health, the dangers of drugs etc.), sports and other manual activities. The boys were divided into four groups with three or four animators. We were able to create an atmosphere where they felt secure, accepted and loved. It was like a family. Actually the groups were not called ‘group so and so’ but ‘the family of so and so’ which made them feel more like being in a family. The objective of the camp was to help them to go back to their family. By the end of the camp we were able to find and take 42 boys to their families. The families of the other four boys were not found so they were put into centres. Two of them were very little, 7 years old and they did not know even where they came from.

SMSM SistersI went with another animator to find the families of five boys. We were able to locate the families of four of them. It was a great joy to meet their families and to witness the emotional moment of reunion with the families. It was like an experience of the prodigal son or the finding of the lost sheep. I was very moved by it. We could not find the family of one boy. He knew the name of his village but when we went to the region we were told that that village did not exist. Apparently the boy had left his house when he was six years old.

It was a wonderful experience for me to be part of this camp and to understand the situations of the boys who end up on the streets.

Sr Suporna Rozario smsm

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