I started getting ready for my adventure back in November. At the beginning, my aim was to reach Dakar in four days. In the end, I’m a bit sad because it took me five days, but I’m proud to have done it on a tricycle that I designed myself. I had a telephone with me, but I was on my own for the journey. I had planned the towns I was going to beforehand.
I cycled about 100 kilometres a day. The biggest difficulties were enduring the heat and watching out for trucks and lorries. On the road, drivers sounded their horns to encourage me and slowed down to tell me to be careful. Some even tried to persuade me to stop because they thought it was dangerous. When I arrived, I was completely exhausted because I could only use my arms and my right leg to power the tricycle.
“In my city, the infrastructure is not suited to people with disabilities”
It’s not easy for people with disabilities in Senegal to move around. The cheapest wheelchairs cost 200,000 Central African Francs [Editor’s note: approximately 300€]. Also, the infrastructure in Ziguinchoir is quite poor: there are very few access ramps and getting into public buildings - even hospitals! - is really difficult.
My only disappointment is that no officials were there to meet me, not in Senegal nor in Gambia. [Editor’s note: Badji requested a meeting with Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, as well as the President of the National Assembly, but has not heard back from them as of yet.]
“I wanted to talk about Casamance which is, for me, a forgotten region in Senegal”
In Casamance, there are a lot of disabled people. They’re mostly children who have strayed onto land mines. I’m the president of a sports association where 30 of our members have been injured by land mines [Editor’s note: according to the Dakar-based National Mine Action Centre, there have been 751 land mine victims in Casamance]. Despite the conflict having officially ended, there’s still scattered conflict all over the region.
With this expedition, I wanted to promote sport for disabled people, show that we can do big things when we want to, and talk about the situation in Casamance which is, for me, a forgotten region in Senegal.