My team-mate and friend Fabrizio Meoni died a few days before the end of the 2005 Dakar. Although he didn’t talk much about it, we knew he financed a school in the suburbs of Dakar, so the day after the finish, with his Italian friends, we went to visit the school that carried his name. It was a very emotional moment. I remember the two hundred or so children there that day were as deeply moved by the Fabrizio’s death as we were and we pretty much decided on the spot to continue his work, both to pay homage to his memory and to help the people of a country who had always welcomed us with open arms.
Back in the Senegalese capital at the finish of the 2006 Dakar, along with some of the people from the Fabrizio Meoni Foundation, we visited other projects on the outskirts of Dakar and finally we decided to renovate and enlarge a second school at Yeumbeul Bene Baraque. A few months later work started on "the Fabrizio and Cyril School".
The Dakar maybe doesn’t run through Africa any more, but the school now has walls, a roof, good teachers and above all many children who prepare their future. On my last visit, in February 2012, there was a director, 13 teachers and 321 children aged between 3 and 17. But other 500 children living in the area still don’t have a place in school. Seeing what was so badly needed gave me an idea, which is why, since getting back from South America in January I have been busy putting together a ‘coffee table’ book covering my Dakar career from my debut back in 2000 to date.
I won’t deny that it has been fun going back through all the old photos and writing the text and I am proud of the result, but it has also been a lot of hard work! I was never an exemplary student myself and nothing in my career has prepared me for such an undertaking. To be honest, if it wasn’t for fact that all the profits from the sale of the book are going to finance the school’s expansion, I would have probably thrown in the towel after the first couple of pages! Happily though I saw through and now the book has been finished and printed and is available for sale priced €30.00 at www.cyrildespres-shop.com.
Did I mention all the profits are going to finance the expansion of the school…?
Priced €30, it can be purchased online at http://www.cyrildespres-shop.com