My name is Mamadou Dia, I am from a small town called Gandiol, a village of farmers and fishermen that extends over the coast of the northern region of Senegal, Saint Louis. This place has seen me born and grow up among its population, composed mostly of great women and hundreds of children that run around the streets bare foot in search of entertainment and education spaces designed for their development. Young people spend their afternoons on the football field exercising, jumping and waiting for a ball that never falls out of the sky. The absence of spaces causes that many of them want to leave.

Gandiol is a land of immigrants, restless people, dreamers of change, walkers. But the lack of opportunities causes the exodus of many men.  Before, towards the routes of the South in search of fish. Today to the terrible routes of the North looking for the false ¨European golden dream¨.

That was my case when in 2006. When I was 21 years old I embarked on a boat trip to the North. After eight long days in the sea, I arrived at the Gomera island (Spain). I discovered the reality of my new land of desolation, deceit, prejudice… and started working on my own integration in this new world to become one more of them.

My life in this country is made for a film, starting with the travel, the hospitality, how to find a job without a certificate of residence, learn Spanish, coordinate youth projects, volunteering, working life, friends, family, music and African dances. Once I overcame all this, I realized that everything had been possible thanks to friends (Xarit in wolof), the key to success.

In 2012 after the publication of my first book entitled “3052”, I decided to create my NGO “Hahatay are laughs of Gandiol” and work to return to my homeland to participate in its own development. On one of these trips I met Nerea.

We are from two different worlds: I grew up among many needs and she grew up in the best childhood. But what makes us equal is our education based on human values. Very soon we both discovered the role that awaits for us in this life: create a living space for the development of girls and boys in an education that guarantees them a responsible, happy and caring life.

Nerea became a partner of Hahatay, and she began to draw my dreams in paper. As the committed architect that she was, she taught us her desire to create adequate spaces for the physical, recreational and intellectual development of children.

I dreamt, she draw, and now we are all committed to convert this dream into reality, on the basis of her desires and recommendations. We want to offer this great jewel that she designed for the children and youth of Gandiol, a land that she considered a close friend of her natal Getxo (Bilbao).

I now understand that there are souls that never die, and that their lights, so beautiful and powerful, illuminate our eyes, which are crazy to see them, admire them. But they are so smart that they prefer to hide and beat in the most intimate corners of our hearts. Each one of my beats means a smile, Hahatay (laugh), of satisfaction for having crossed the path of my Xarit Nere.