In Senegal, in Dakar alone, there are 50,000 child beggers. Many of them are Talibé children, or children who are studying in daaras (Koranic schools), who often become prey of exploitation, and are forced to work and beg on the streets. Their life is terrifyingly challenging—so much so it became the subject of an action game.
Cross Dakar City, is an mobile game created by Ousseynou Khadim Bèye, a 32-year-old engineer from Senegal, to raise awareness of the tragic conditions of Senegal’s child beggars. In the game, which is free to download, one of them has to escape the city’s street and walk all the way to his parents’ home, in the country.
The user plays Mamadou, a child beggar who has to cross 16 levels of water bodies, forests and—what’s hardest—city traffic, to get home in one piece. Through the game, he can get gifts that increase his strength, as well as encounter further perils, such as land mines. At the end of this little hero’s journey are his parents.
“Avoiding traffic is just one of many difficulties that [Talibé children] face,” Bèye says in a video presenting the game. ”As in reality,” he says, Mamadou’s “chances of surviving such a journey aren’t quite in his favor.” So far, Cross Dakar City has been downloaded nearly 50,000 times across platforms. It’s a finalist of Best of Online Activism awards in the section Tech for Good.
Bèye—who, Reuters reports, created the game in his free time while working at an energy firm in Paris—says he wants to use Cross Dakar City prod international NGOs as well as the Senegalese government to help the child beggars. The engineer, who plans to develop a 3D version of the game, wants to capitalize on the visibility gained by this project to build a game design studio that creates games inspired by African culture.