Moussa N’daiye started the company Rapatac 15 years ago with the aim of improving the lives of youth in one of Sweden’s most segregated area “Nordost in Gävle”. Through his work, he has been recognized by the king in Sweden and was chosen as “Svensk Hjälte” (Swedish Hero) in 2009. Today, Rapatac has an activity center, academy etc. And it is a household name in Gävle commune. The story of the Senegalese-Swedish will inspire you.
What is Rapatac?
Rapatac is an organization that works to provide children and young people good prospects for a secure and meaningful childhood by offering them help with school work, opportunities for stimulating leisure activities and to develop their ability to take responsibility for their actions. Rapatac has over the years grown into a large organization in the areas for children activities, to support youngsters, to find an employment or studies.
During the last two years Rapatac has also, with the group Rapatac for the People, been working to develop a village in Senegal in West Africa by providing their school with computers, and also by raising money to build a market-place (like Merche Gävle De Mbodiene), that the women in the village can manage to provide for their families.
What does the name Rapatac mean?
It is a Senegalese word that means a social movement. Many people from different backgrounds coming together doing an activity.
What inspired you to start Rapatac?
I worked in a school environment for many years and noticed that there were many children who did not pass the knowledge level for their age. I had also spent a lot of time with my brother in the United States, and seen how those working with children and young people had helped them get through school by making use of sports. It inspired me a lot, and l used basketball as a tool in the beginning of my business. That was the start of the idea of Rapatac, to create a complement to the school, a place where children and young people got educational support and opportunities for activities in a positive and stimulating context.
Always with the objective, School First.
What have you been able to accomplish since Rapatac was started and how?
I have been working with Rapatac for 15 years, so I have had a lot of time to accomplish many different things. For the past three years, Rapatac has an activity center in the area Nordost in Gävle, one of Sweden’s most segregated living areas. In this center, we work to fulfill Rapatac’s goal. On the side of this, we work with sports like basketball and judo. We also work to reduce youth unemployment and many other activities for the citizens of Gävle that I am very proud of.
In the year 2011, I was part of the people that set up a cooperative for long-term unemployed women from different countries, named Sandaga. Today they offer services in household and are also responsible for the information disk in the cities biggest galleria. It is a great feeling being a part of services that help people to become independent.
I also believe that Rapatac has affected the city of Gävle in many different positive aspects which have a good impact on the development of Gävle. Rapatac has a unique way of working-methods that we think is a big accomplishment. We have seen a positive change in Gävle since we started our organization.
Just to mention a few of the awards and recognition we have received through our services, in the year 2009, l was chosen to be a “Svensk Hjälte” in TV4 in Stockholm, and I have had the privilege to receive many other prices during these years.
What obstacles did you come across when you first started?
One of the biggest obstacles is that it is sometimes hard for people to have an understanding of Rapatacs vision and methods. It is an obstacle that I have an understanding of, and I don’t think it will go away because of the fact that Rapatac always has these unique ways of working that is different from other methods. It has taken a long time to get where we are today.
Also, there is something in Sweden called Jantelagen, which I also believe is an obstacle that you are supposed to act and work in a certain way. Today, that is the hardest obstacle. In the beginning of Rapatac, I was a bit naive, thinking that if you just want to accomplish good things, people will automatically support you but today I know that what is good for some people can be less good for others.
Rapatac seems to be involved in different activities like Academic, sporting department, community services, how do you manage everything?
When I started with Rapatac 15 years ago I coached 22 groups of basketball per week. That was a lot. As of today Rapatac has grown and have many people within the organization that are responsible for different activities.
I manage all the different activities by finding people that have an interest in the activities and have a passion for what they do. Some people have so much passion that they stay for many years and become a part of the organization. In this case, the different areas create themselves by many people coming together to make it happen.
Another thing that is important is Rapatacs connection with the companies in Gävle. We have a lot of positive support from them. Even though it is a lot of work to manage the different departments, I have a lot of support from the children, parents and partners. It is a great feeling helping other people. Rapatac has also grown into helping people in Africa, and let the children in our organization see the differences in living situations for children in different parts of the world.
I feel that it is important that Rapatac exists, and every day I grow as a person. That makes it easy to go to work and manage new activities and new goals.
Do you plan to extend Rapatac to other parts of Sweden in future?
The goal is that other communes will be able to use the concept Rapatac after attending an education around the concept. We already have some communes that have shown their interest to take part in Rapatacs methods.
Read more about Rapatac here:http://www.rapatac.se/
Photograph by: Rapatac
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