The children, the women, the youth… what are they doing here?
Do they realize that with “ak benn” they can lay the foundations for their future?
For they are being offered a chance to learn, to discover, to build and network relationships, and each day to go a step further. This is what we call “ak benn".
It began at Kër Taizé, the house of the Taizé brothers living in Dakar.
The suburbs of Dakar where ak benn is implanted in four locations offer few prospects for young people. Many become discouraged, paralysed by inertia; others dream of leaving the continent.
Most of the young people and women who come regularly to the ak benn location at Grand Yoff have known Kër Taizé for some fourteen years now. A huge effort of training is made where the spirit of discovery is awakened. They in turn become “animators” for their younger brothers and sisters.
The call to discover is made audible by means of educative games and visits to places outside the neighbourhood.
The invitation the youth receive to help with the activities for the younger children is like a challenge to become actors in their own development.
From “li nga kham” to “ak benn”
The educative activities for the children begin with an idea expressed in the local language Wolof by : “li nga kham jangal ko ko”: “what you know, teach it”. What the young people know already they can share with others, this brings with it appreciation and recognition which helps them become animators. These experiences led to another expression: “ak benn”; an invitation to go a step further, be interested in many different things: where one lives, in one’s culture and environment, in work well done, in technology, in art, at the same time it is an invitation to give more.
Ak benn means “ …and one more”.
The smaller children, the youth… and the mothers
A group of women and girls received training in sewing and patchwork; the young people work and are trained as a team, they make puzzles, dolls, bracelets, mobiles… These handicrafts are sold at exhibitions here in Dakar and in several places in Europe. With the profits of these sales, money management and saving are learned.
There are exhibitions that present both the crafts made by the young people, the mothers, and a selection of photos showing the learning activities with the younger children. In this way what lies at the foundation of all these activities is clearly underlined: the care of the smallest ones, their awakening, as well as commitment in the present circumstances, circumstances that have to be confronted with the conviction that even in these circumstances one can find flashes of beauty as well as the courage to create with others.