Saly is mobilising for people’s rights
Saly is 22 years old and lives in the Kolda region of Senegal. She is a peer educator working to raise the awareness of young people to sexual health and disability issues.
Saly Sadio lives in Kolda, a region in the south of Senegal. She has a disability in her left leg since her excision. | © A. Faye / HI
As a peer educator trained by HI, Saly tours the neighbourhoods organising community talks and raising awareness of sexual health issues among young people. She invites 10 girls and 10 boys to discuss four subjects: puberty, sexuality and consent, family planning and sexual violence.
Fighting violence and female genital mutilation
Violence is something Saly knows all too well. When she was just three years old, her mother took her to her grandmother's village for a visit.
Saly had been subjected to female genital mutilation. Afterwards, she was bedridden for many weeks. Her mother then noticed that she was having difficulty walking. She took her to the hospital, where the doctor informed them that Saly could no longer walk properly because her right foot had remained contracted for too long. Her parents couldn't afford the corrective surgery she needed.
Saly’s determination and courage
Despite her young age, Saly remained determined. One day, she crossed paths with members of HI’s team and was at last given access to the appropriate medical care. After three painful operations, she could extend her right foot by a few more centimetres. She learned to move around on crutches and attended rehabilitation sessions.
Saly had dropped out of school at a very early age, not only because of the physical inaccessibility of the school buildings, but because the other children made fun of her for how she walked. So HI's team enrolled her at the Conseil Ado centre, which provides advice and guidance to young victims of violence.
For a year, Saly took part in talks organised at the centre by HI and developed her leadership skills and self-confidence. She was then able to define a professional project. Today, Saly has her own sewing workshop and dreams of making outfits for the country's leading figures.
From person supported to peer educator
Saly also became a volunteer and accompanied HI to awareness-raising sessions with other young people living in the remote villages of Kolda. With the knowledge she had acquired and the skills she had developed, she made a key contribution to these activities. In 2022, when a team member was due to leave the project, she was asked to become a peer educator.
Today, Saly has just one message to pass on: "I ask all mothers to stop hiding their children with disabilities at home. Dare to take your disabled children out, enrol them in school or in vocational training. Look at me: if I, Saly, can do it, so can your children." »