They are called "ghost children". Never declared at birth, they can neither vote nor pass their exams. They live without legal existence. In Senegal, the number is estimated at 4 million. Nafi Gueye created the association "J'existe" to help them.
She fights to give a legal existence to the undeclared children of Senegal
Nafi Gueye is a young Senegalese girl. Very committed, she has just created the association "J'existe" to help the "ghost children" of Senegal. The term, commonly used by Senegalese, refers to people without civil status. Not declared at birth, they have no legal existence. You can not take an exam, get a voter card, or even access certain jobs. In the eyes of the state, these people simply do not exist.
Tonight, she has a meeting with a family in Thiaroye-sur-mer, in the suburbs of Dakar. "I move sometimes, when by phone it's too complicated," says the young woman. The couple receives her in their living room, sitting on the bed, television in the background. They are under thirty years old and have just been parents for the second time. The little head breast, peacefully. At three months, she has still not been declared. In Senegal, one in four children under five do not have a birth certificate, which is half a million. "In total, an estimated 4 million people are without civil status," says Nafi Gueye.
Not enough information on the procedures to follow
The phenomenon particularly affects the most remote areas of the country and the deprived areas of the capital. At issue first: the lack of information. "The ignorance of parents is the first cause, there is not enough information on the procedure to follow, the young activist is sorry. This results in neglect because as time goes by, people are slow to declare their child. "
Parents often do not realize the importance of marital status. "I admit that the mistake comes from me, admits the father who called" I exist "for help. I am a carpenter, but I would like my children to have the choice to go to school. "
Because without a birth certificate, doors close. He himself lost clients, who required ID to make him a contract. Nafi Gueye makes the same observation every day as part of her commitment. "There are really children who are brilliant and arrived in third grade, they can not pass their exam," she laments.
To raise awareness
The problem persists for years in Senegal. "It's been 40 years that it lasts, Enrage Nafi Gueye. But civil status is not a priority of the state. We prefer to build large infrastructures. So the young woman decided to take action. The key word: awareness. In Dakar, she contacted young students from the same locality. She finds them on the campus of Cheikh Anta Diop University. They are about ten huddled in a small room, to listen to it attentively. It's soon Easter holidays, and Nafi Gueye wants to train them to inform in their villages. "The message will be better if it comes from you."
The head of Tambacounda's youth association, Camara, told him of a fairground audience held a few weeks earlier. "Foraines" are hearings that take place outside the seat of the court. This time, a judge stayed a whole morning at the town hall of Tambacounda to try to regularize certain situation. When a child has not been registered after the first year of birth, parents may request
a birth registration authorization judgment. "The judges then go to the villages because people do not have enough to move around," says Nafi. The problem is that the authorities have cut the funds and can no longer afford the fuel. "
The difficulty of mobile audiences
"We asked 4,000 CFA francs from people from surrounding villages," says Camara. And many could not see the judge, there were already too many people. "To register a child after one year is complicated, and it is necessary to face the corruption of the intermediaries. For uneducated parents, the task is tough. Nafi Gueye hopes that the students will be able to relay and explain the procedures. "The best thing is that you go with them, after each birth, and as soon as there is a fairground audience," she pleads.
It takes you an hour of your time but it's important. "
The young people agree. Without a birth certificate, they could not have come to study in Dakar. They know the importance of marital status. "I hope to be able to train other young people from other localities," says Nafi Gueye. To sensitize the whole territory on this problem. Senegal is a country that is growing very fast, but civil status is the basis. "