There's an estimated 30,000 child beggars within the capital. Some of the fencing participants come from its children's shelter for former street kids. "Most of the children come from families who are in a very difficult situation economically," explains Ba. "We're just trying to get them out of the street.
Courtesy Dakar Lives
Many who are part of the fencing program are orphans or former child beggars.
"Ultimately," said Homer, "I just hope the youth in the program are able to take tangible skills away from these experiences, and that continued exposure to the sport will lead to more opportunities."
Pictured: Child in a children's shelterCourtesy Sam Phelps/OSIWA
Organizers believe fencing is an effective method to engender determination and respect (both for themselves and others) amongst the children.
In an impassioned article for The Huffington Post, Homer wrote, "our society praises winners but shares nothing about the hardship we overcome to win," highlighting the value of giving back.
Pictured: Photos of footballers on the wall of a children's shelter. Courtesy Sam Phelps/OSIWA
Homer's interest in fencing was sparked after reading a children's dictionary, which showed two men and the word fencing below it. His mother, having searched around enrolled him at the Peter Westbrook Foundation (PWF). He trained under fencing legend Yury Gelman, who agreed to coach him pro bono.
PWF's intake of students leans heavily towards inner city youths of black and Latino descent. Westbrook, a former Olympic saber fencer is of Japanese and African American heritage himself, and started the foundation on similar grounds of promoting diversity within the sport
Pictured: Sporting equipment line the wall of a fencing studio in Senegal. Courtesy Sam Phelps/OSIWA
One of the program's fencing trainers is a former juvenile prisoner, it's hoped overtime many more will become trainers once released.
"I've seen how 'play' and discipline can be connected seamlessly to help youth succeed in the real world," says Homer. He hopes to tutor more off-duty sessions.Courtesy Augusto Bizzi