As the dates approach to win a green card to the United States through
the "diversity lottery," many thousands of West Africans are dreaming
of moving there. Naomi Seck reports from Louga, a small city in
Senegal, that some residents say despite the financial crisis and
rising unemployment in the United States, they would still jump at the
chance to immigrate.
In a small room in the back corner of the
Louga cultural center, a group of young men are chatting about life,
politics and philosophy.
This is the American Corner, a small
library and Internet cafe run in partnership with the United States
Embassy and the Senegalese government.
The director of the
center, Ann-Marie Faye, says people of all ages come to use the
center's resources. They do research for school or practice English.
But once they hit a certain age, around twenty years old or so, Faye says, they pretty much all want to move to America.
Aziz Ndiaye, a twenty-year-old student, explains why. "We want to go
there for two things," he said. "We want to go there to live what we
want to know, English. Also we go there to make money, because life is
better there than here."
He says last year, he tried to apply for a visa through the diversity lottery, but did not get one. He says he will try again.
of young people from West Africa try to emigrate to richer countries,
legally and illegally, every year. Hundreds have died in dangerous
journeys across the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean attempting to
reach the United States and Europe.
Ndiaye says he wants to go
there to earn enough money to help his family. "We live for our family,
we live in unity, we work for them," he said. "Here, young people
before thinking to marry a woman, or something like that, you think to
help out others."
Ndiaye is the youngest of six children, and
the only one to graduate high school. When his father passed away more
than ten years ago, his older siblings had to leave school.
But some immigrants from West Africa are finding things in developed countries tougher than they expected.
economy in Europe and the United States is suffering. Unemployment in
the United States is at more than six percent, more than a percentage
point higher than last year at this time. The International Monetary
Fund has warned that the U.S. economy is in a recession that they say
the country will not recover from before 2010.
Ndiaye says news
like this does not stop him from wanting to go to America. "I have
heard it from the radio and television that there is economic problem
there," he said. "But I think that they will overcome, because they
have always found a solution to their problems."
Pape Ibrahima Guèye, another student at the American corner, any
problems in the world economy will hit developing countries much harder
than the United States or Europe.
In West Africa, unemployment
estimates reach as high as 70 percent. Millions of people struggle to
survive on less than $1 a day.