Art for resilience: Stories from young mothers in Senegal

Art can be a powerful tool for recovery and resilience. In Dakar, Senegal, five mothers recovering from sexual exploitation and abuse collaborated with French-Senegalese artist Delphine Diallo to tell their stories.

The result is a powerful photo series documenting stories of recovery and resilience. For the project, Diallo produced individual photographs of the five mothers, each of whom placed their own personal collage elements around the portraits. The project helped the young mothers navigate and share their harrowing experiences.

For example, Marième, 15, was first assaulted at age 11 by a man living in the same shelter as her family. In the aftermath of Marième’s assault, her mother chose to beat her out of anger.

“After the attack I felt all alone and had no support,” says Marième. “Other children would tease me and insult me on the streets. They would call me names like ‘prostitute.'”

Marième was raped again at 12, resulting in her pregnancy.

All five women depicted in the photo series live in La Maison Rose in Dakar, a shelter for women and girls recovering from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Says Coumba, 26: “Arriving here felt like I’d had a mask over my eyes and now it’s been taken away. Now, I can see clearly and I can see reality.”

The series was launched to mark International Day of the Girl on 11 October, which advocates for gender equality and the wellbeing and progress of girls across the globe.

See the series and read the young women’s stories here.

Featured photo: Delphine Diallo/Save the Children

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