“The Taizé brothers living in Dakar welcomed the thirteen adolescents in their home for two days. We shared in their life, taking part in the prayers and the meals. The young people formed friendships with some of the Senegalese animators of their own age. These animators are Muslim and Christian. It was only at the weekend when one of the boys left for a pilgrimage for the birthday of the Prophet that we understood that he was Muslim. Our young French people entered easily into the prayer of the brothers, even if the songs were sung in Wolof. Sunday Mass at the parish lasted two and a half hours; that was a bit more difficult!
On the Sunday afternoon we set off for the centre of Dakar, to a new neighbourhood where people are living in houses that are not yet completed, and in which new rooms are still being added. Dozens of children were playing in the courtyard. There was no water, so we had to fetch two hundred litres of water each day. The first day, it was the boys who went and the lady who looked after the water tap asked if there were no girls in the group because in Africa this was a job for women. As for the meals, they were often late, since as we did the shopping we had to discuss the prices, and go round all the shops.
Senegal is an extraordinary country, although that does not exclude a certain sadness. I spoke with a little boy eight years old who said, “Whenever we have the money, we will leave”. Conversely, few Europeans get the opportunity to live with Senegalese; so it was a very rich experience for all of us. For the young people from the chaplaincy, it was above all a matter of discovering a country, of widening their horizon and of sharing for a few days the life of people of another continent. The young people made many friends and there were plenty of tears when the time came to leave. Several have said that they want to return.”