Yayi Bayam Diouf will never forget the evening in the spring of 2007 when her son Alioune called her on the phone to tell her that he wanted to try his luck in Europe and was already on his way there. "Pray for me, Mama", he said at the end. That was his last call.
Several weeks later, the Senegalese woman found out that her son's pirogue, a wooden boat, had capsized. Alioune and many other young men did not survive the disaster.
Yayi Bayam Diouf lost her only child and was in shock for weeks until it occurred to her that something had to be done. She decided to tell her story to save other families. She founded an association of women who are dedicated to combating illegal migration. They use media and go to major invents to inform other families about the unscrupulous activities of smugglers, the dangers of traveling to Europe and the desperation of Africans who have reached the wished-for promised land.
Yayi Bayam Diouf was one of eleven participants in a communication training course held by DW Akademie in Dakar. Representatives of youth organizations, returnees' programs and vocational training centers also took part. Together with DW Akademie trainers, they worked on clearly formulating their messages in an interview, developing communication strategies and learning how to choose the channels best suited to reach young people in particular.
This media training program is part of the "The Migration Dilemma" project funded by Germany's Foreign Office. Deutsche Welle's Africa programs organize town hall debates in various West African cities where they also produce TV, radio and web reports. Their aim is to achieve optimal media coverage in all chosen media outlets and to inform young people.
Nonetheless, participants of the communication training course are well aware of the fact that warnings on the risks and dangers of irregular migration are not enough to prevent young people from trying to leave. Most of them see no future in their homeland; many cannot feed their families or make ends meet. The flight to Europe seems to be the last resort for countless Africans.
It was thus clear to everyone in the Dakar seminar that alternatives, provided there are any, had to be discussed. What can a young African do in his own country to earn money? For example: Can the booming construction sector offer jobs? How do you get useful and affordable training and loans to start a small business? What programs allow legal stays abroad? The workshop participants will try to expand the range of information they can provide in interviews, at events, in social networks and in small videos. Together they have formulated the main message about their concerns: " The sea must not become a cemetery for our sons."
Yayi Bayam Diouf goes to the beach every night and looks at the waves. She says that the sea has taken her son. But it also gives her what she need to live. The 60-year-old earns her living in a shellfish processing plant. She is eagerly hopes that young people will also get the chance to use their strength to build something in their own country.