Dakar’s street children learn acrobatics


Modou Fata Touré, a former street child of Dakar, founded in 2010, Sencirk’, Senegal’s first circus company. Its main aim is to use the resources offered by the circus to help children with social or medical needs in Dakar and its surroundings. The head of social projects at Sencirk, Adji Mbene Lam, gives acrobatic classes to the children of the Empire des Enfants, an emergency shelter for street children in Dakar. 

Adji Mbene Lam, head of social projects at Sencirk’, at the centre, surrounded by the Empire des Enfants’s children. Photograph: Carmen Abd Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Some sitting on a mat, some are on the floor while others are standing, but all of them wearing Rabec’s (the Network of Community Welfare Associations) pink sports vest are attentively listening to what Adji Mbene Lam is saying. Surrounded by the kids, she is able to grab the little beings’ attention. Only one is looking away from her, seemingly distracted or not interested in her explanations.

Adji Mbene Lam holding one kid on her shoulders and surrounded by 14 other, teaching them acrobatics. © Carmen Abd Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Looking like an authentic troupe, in this photograph all wearing green sports vests, the fourteen pre-teens are balancing their tiny bodies. Sitting on shoulders, standing on tights, and lifting with their feet, all of the kids are contributing to the performance. Even Adji Mbene Lam is holding one on her shoulders. Aside from some that look a bit scared of sitting on their shoulders, they all appear to be enjoying their time with the photo capturing some of their expressive faces.

Wearing Rabec’s pink sports vest, hanging off their small shoulders, on top of football shirts, two children are looking outside a wired mesh window. While one is holding a Chinese juggling plate, the other is clutching onto the stick without the plate in sight. The contrast between the kids in the shadows separated by the glassless window from Dakar’s pink, white and cream buildings tugs on the heartstrings of the spectator. The photo shows the social isolation that Dakar’s street children experience on a day-to-day basis. 

Mariama. C

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