After watching migrants [ young students ] die, he pleads : '' STAY ''. This witness to tragedy tries to keep the young / students from leaving Senegal.

Crowded together with 90 other migrants on a rickety fishing vessel bound for Spain,  Moustapha Diouf watched 10 of them die,  one by one, from heat and exhaustion.

Worried about health risks posed by the corpses, Mr. Diouf had to throw the bodies overboard. Five were friends.

It was in that macabre moment 17 years ago, Mr. Diouf said, that he vowed to do everything in his power to stop others from making the choice he had and enduring the same fate.

He would make it his mission to dissuade his fellow Senegalese from trying to reach Europe and die on the perilous journey.

'' If we don't do anything, we become accomplices in their deaths,'' said Mr. Diouf, 54, sitting in a dusty office of the nonprofit  organization he co-founded, empty but for one desk and a couple of chairs.

'' I will fight every day to stop young students / people from leaving.''

In 2006, the boat Mr. Diouf boarded with his friends was one of the first of many pirogues, as the craft are known, that departed that year from the coastal villages of Senegal in the direction of Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago 60 miles [ 90 kilometers ] off the Moroccan coast.

With their traditional way of fishing no match for the industrial trawlers from China, Europe and Russia that had begun combing the sea around them, Mr. Diouf and his fellow villagers could no longer support their families.

MIGRATION, they believed, was their best choice.

Over the course of just one year, almost 32,000 migrants, most of them West Africans students, reached the Canary Islands through this route.

THOUSANDS of others died or disappeared.  The journey was so treacherous that the motto of those who braved it was "' BARSA WALA BARSAKH,'' or ''Barcelona or die'' in Wolof, one of Senegal's national languages.

Yet, it was so popular that that locals started referring to places like Thiaroye-sur-Mer, Mr. Diouf's village in the suburbs of Dakar, as ''international airports.''

Mr. Diouf was among the lucky ones; He made it to the Canary Islands alive, but the whole experience was dreadful, he said. He was imprisoned and deported to Senegal.

Upon his return, together with two other repatriates, he set up his nonprofit, known as AJRAP, or the Association of Young Repatriates, whose mission is to persuade Senegal's Students/Youth to stay.

In his quest, Mr. Diouf has sought the help of high-profile allies. He wrote a letter to the country's president, Macky Sall, but never got an answer. He met with the mayor of Dakar, Senegal's capital.

He even tried to go to Brussels, to speak with the authorities of the European Union, but was denied a visa.

But that has not, and nothing will, hold him back.

The Essay Publishing continues into the future. The World Students Society thanks Monika Pronczuk.


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