Maison de la Gare

Maison de la Gare's mission is to achieve integration of the begging talibe street children into formal schooling and productive participation in Senegalese society. Tens of thousands of talibe children beg on the streets of Senegal for 6 to 10 hours each day for their food and for money to give the "teacher" or Marabout who controls them. They live in unconscionable conditions in "daaras", without access to running water, rudimentary hygiene or nurture, often without shelter and subject to severe abuse. Human Rights Watch published a widely distributed description of this situation in 2010, "Off the Backs of the Children". Maison de la Gare is acting with t...

Maison de la Gare
Avenue Charles de Gaulle, opposite Maitre Babacar Seye Stadium
Balacos, Sor
Saint Louis, Saint Louis B.P. 150
Senegal
221 77 534 0660
http://www.mdgsl.com

President

Issa Kouyate

Management Team

Issa Kouyate, Aladji Gaye, Babacar Ndiaye, Abdou Faye, Bouri Mbodj, Aida Dieng, Anta Mbaye

Board of Directors

Mapate Bousso, Maodo Diagne, Baye Ndaraw Diop, Issa Kouyate, Rodney L LeRoy, Amadou (Aladji) Gaye, Aladji Gaye, Babacar Ndiaye, Abdou Faye, Bouri Mbodj, Aida Dieng, Anta Mbaye

Project Leaders

Rod LeRoy

Mission

Maison de la Gare's mission is to achieve integration of the begging talibe street children into formal schooling and productive participation in Senegalese society. Tens of thousands of talibe children beg on the streets of Senegal for 6 to 10 hours each day for their food and for money to give the "teacher" or Marabout who controls them. They live in unconscionable conditions in "daaras", without access to running water, rudimentary hygiene or nurture, often without shelter and subject to severe abuse. Human Rights Watch published a widely distributed description of this situation in 2010, "Off the Backs of the Children". Maison de la Gare is acting with the objective of ending talibe begging in Saint Louis, estimated to include over 7,000 boys between 3 and 19. Having started in rented quarters in the former train station or "gare", a permanent center was built in 2010 with the financial and organizational support of international partners. Programs at this Center will support the talibes of Saint Louis in obtaining a basic education or, for older talibes, learning marketable skills. The begging talibe situation is complex, deeply imbedded in the cultural and religious traditions of Senegal and Muslim West Africa. Although the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for action in its 1995 and 2006 "Concluding Observations", decisive action is politically difficult. Many initiatives have faltered by ignoring the cultural and societal realities of the situation. Maison de la Gare is working from within the present situation to effect permanent change. The organization's broad objectives are: 1. Integrate talibe children into the formal school system, through literacy classes and teaching the life skills necessary for success there. This objective includes providing literacy classes, hygiene instruction and nutritional support (allowing children to attend class when they would normally be begging for their food). It also requires documentation dossiers for individual children as necessary in the absence of any family support system. 2. Support talibes integrated into the school system with tutoring, nurturing and material support as necessary for success. This requirement will grow as more talibe are integrated into formal schooling. 3. Prepare Saint Louis talibe children, from the base of Maison de la Gare's Center, for integration into society, and support the success in Maison de la Gare's programs, through sports and arts programs, medical care, and nutritional and hygiene teaching and support. The talibes have in general NO access to medical treatment or support. Maison de la Gare has recently built an infirmary within the Center, and engages a nurse and hopes to train nursing aids. The Center's staff serves the medical needs of talibe children throughout Saint Louis, linking them to the Center and its programs and reinforcing relationships with the "Marabouts" who have control over them. 4. Prepare older talibes, age 15 and over, to be self supporting through apprenticeship programs, including tailoring and market gardening. This requires in-depth relationships with the talibe students, finding ways to reintegrate them into society, either in their home communities or in Saint Louis. 5. Collaborate actively with local, national and international initiatives working to end talibe street begging. Maison de la Gare's new Center has already made the Association a beacon for those concerned with a long term solution to the talibe problem, providing a base for establishing constructive working relationships with Marabouts around Saint Louis, the city administration, and with Amnesty International, Toscan, UNESCO and others acting for children on a national level.

Programs

Approximately 200 children participate each day in classes teaching literacy and basic math skills, and another 15-25 in apprenticeship programs. Three classrooms within the Center are crowded each afternoon with 50 children each, and they are taught basic French and mathematics by Senegalese teachers who have long experience with the specific challenges of working with talibe street children. A key objective is to integrate 25 talibe students into formal primary schooling each year, and then to support their academic success. Sports, arts, hygiene and gardening activities based at the Center involve 100s of talibe youth, and serve as a vehicle for building their skills and self confidence. Soccer tournaments are organized regularly for the children of different daaras, giving them some release from their normal life of begging. Maison de la Gare's Center is becoming a green and attractive haven for the talibe children of Saint Louis, with art work highlighting articles from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and with bright, attractive buildings and useful plantings. Children involved in the literacy classes and other programs are treated with respect, and are exposed to models of gender equality in competence and responsibility. Through its academic, sports, arts and other programs, the Center is becoming a beacon of hope to the talibe children, showing them the possibilities of life beyond the streets and their daaras. The market garden program, and planting and maintenance of other trees and flowers within the Center, are having a major influence on the talibe children involved in Maison de la Gare's programs. Many talibes contribute to this effort, while some older talibes will be more involved on an apprenticeship basis. The Center's new infirmary and its nurse have greatly expanded Maison de la Gare's capacity to effectively meet the urgent medical needs of talibe children involved in the Center's programs and in the daaras of Saint Louis. Many 1000s of talibes in Saint Louis currently have almost no access to medical care, and the new infirmary and medical resources will have enormous impact. In addition, offering medical care to children in daaras around Saint Louis serves to reinforce working relationships with the Marabouts who control the children's lives, thus facilitating the talibes' participation in Maison de la Gare's programs. Teaching basic hygiene skills is an on-going theme with all talibe children involved in the Center's programs; all staff support this effort. Maison de la Gare is participating aggressively in local, national and governmental efforts to develop strategies for elimination of talibe street begging, and to agree on concerted actions to achieve this. A key vehicle is the Plateforme pour la promotion et la protection des droits humains. Meetings are held at least monthly, with the objective of achieving concerted action with the government and all others involved.

Statistics on Maison de la Gare

Financial Statistics

  • Annual Budget for 2011: $32,542
  • Maximum Annual Budget: $32,542
  • Other funding sources: (for operations) 51% foundations, 35% international NGOs, 13% Global Fund for Children, 1% other
  • Religious Affiliation: none
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