Helping migrant children in the city of Ouallam in Niger

To reach out to children wandering the streets in Ouallam in Niger, engineering students are setting up an educational and psycho-social support structure.

 

Maimouna Idrissa, SEEN Niger :
« Many young people with nothing to do hang out in the street and end up falling into delinquency (drug and alcohol abuse, theft, etc.). This is unfortunately a sad reality, which exists everywhere in Niger. We also observed that the Boko Haram sect tends to recruit members from among these groups. This project will give young people in the city of Ouallam opportunities for social and professional integration, allowing them to take back control of their lives. »

The students belong to the Association des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs de Ouallam (AEJT/O), created in 2001 with the goal of protecting and improving the well-being of children and their community. It is the Nigerien branch of the Mouvement Africain des Enfants et Jeunes Travailleurs (MAEJT), which federates 362 non-profit organizations supporting children and young workers in 27 African countries. Each of these branches works to develop access to education through a wide range of actions to protect children's rights (literacy classes, programs and leisure activities for the children, protecting "children on the move", etc.).

Propose solutions to deal with an alarming geopolitical and humanitarian situation…
Niger currently hosts some 37,000 Malian refugees. Many migrant children have taken refuge in the city of Ouallam, 90 km north of Niamey in the Tillabéri region (West Niger). Left to their own devices, with no organized activities or support, these children are at risk and are often approached by movements such as Boko Haram.
The main goal of the project is to reach out to these vulnerable children aged 6 to 17 and direct them to support structures. Over a period of six months, AEJT/O will be conducting psycho-social and educational activities with these children. Some of them will benefit from literacy classes with the aim of moving back into the school system, while others will be offered vocational training to learn a trade in one of five sectors: rural mechanics, plumbing, silkscreen printing, sewing  and knitting, and production of liquid and solid soap.

... in close collaboration with local partners

The nonprofit team is made up of Nigerien students familiar with conditions in the city of Ouallam, who put this project together to respond to  the very pressing issue created by the influx of refugee children. They launched the project with the support of local partners: AEJT/O works in close collaboration with the Ouallam departmental office in charge of protecting the population and promoting  women's rights, a state agency  responsible for protection of children in the department of Ouallam. The nonprofit can also rely on technical assistance from the educational, legal and prevention office responsible for protecting underprivileged children in the department. In addition, the Mali Bero Ouallam Scouts Association will be participating in the programs and socio-educational activities organized for the children.

The Student Solidarity Award jury particularly appreciated the students' commitment and the synergies generated with local partners and awarded the project First Prize in the 2015 competition.

Maimouna Idrissa, Communications Manager with SEEN (Société d’Exploitation des Eaux du Niger), Veolia Water's Nigerien subsidiary and sponsor of the project, a local Veolia employee, will be helping the students set up their project.