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...
Aug 2, 2013

Launch of Maison de la Gare's New Web Site

Top of the English welcome page of the new website
Top of the English welcome page of the new website

Maison de la Gare has just launched its totally renewed website, now in both French and English.  Volunteer Michaël Gobert of France developed the new site while he was in Saint Louis, working with Issa Kouyaté, Aladji Gaye, Mapaté Bousso and other volunteers and members of the Maison de la Gare team.  The result is spectacular, a wonderful resource for learning about this organization dedicated to improving the lives of the begging talibé street children.

The sliding window on the welcome page is a magical entry into Maison de la Gare’s many activities ... clicking here is an opening to the myriad ways in which this organization is changing lives.  New entries will be added regularly to this page, so regular visits can be very rewarding!  We have added linkages with social networks so that you can easily share these exciting developments with your friends, and play your role in promoting Maison de la Gare’s activities.

Other pages introduce Maison de la Gare, its origins, its aspirations and people.  A page is dedicated to the talibé children themselves, and provides links to the most current developments in understanding and addressing this unconscionable human rights abuse.

For those who want to contribute, a large section of the site presents Maison de la Gare’s volunteer program, and the many different roles that volunteers can play.  A comprehensive volunteer manual, developed with the help of earlier volunteers, provides all the information needed for a safe and rewarding experience working with the talibé street children.

This new site is a rich resource for everyone wishing to understand, and change, the lives of the talibé street children.


Links to MDG
Links to MDG's new website, in English and French
In-depth information on the talibe problem
In-depth information on the talibe problem
MDG
MDG's amazing volunteer program - your chance!

Links:

Jul 12, 2013

A Garden Oasis for the Talibes

Talibe children checking out the flowers
Talibe children checking out the flowers

Even before the walls of Maison de la Gare's center were first raised in 2010, founder Issa Kouyate had a clear vision of a green, productive garden sanctuary to welcome and inspire the talibés of Saint Louis.  He intended that the garden be planted and nurtured by the talibés themselves, so that they could feel a true sense of ownership of something beautiful.

Today, the garden is an oasis from the hot and dusty world of forced begging.  It contributes welcome shade, colour, and a feeling of peacefulness to Maison de la Gare’s centre. Banana, date, lime, mango, mandarin and Nebedaye trees grow taller and stronger with every season.  Papaya and coconut trees will soon also take hold, contributing to the bounty of the garden.  An iron trellis trains grape vines over a patio.  And the talibés coax regular harvests of sweet potato, tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, mint, melons and beans.

An older talibé, Mamadou, is the primary guardian of the Maison de la Gare garden.  He arrives early each day to water thirsty plants and tend young seedlings.  Ablaye also enjoys working in the garden, helping it to thrive.  Both boys attend Maison de la Gare classes regularly and have email relationships with students in Canada.  Mamadou is too old to have a realistic hope of being registered in the public school system, even though his French language skills are improving.  However, he is developing valuable skills as a gardener which should help him integrate successfully into Senegalese society later on.

Mamadou is looking forward to the maturation of his melon crop.  He will be able to use the proceeds from selling part of the crop to pay his daily begging quota of money to his marabout so he can spend more time at Maison de la Gare and may no longer be forced to beg on the streets of Saint Louis.

All of the talibés who visit Maison de la Gare's centre enjoy the garden's beauty and its bounty.  The mandarin tree's delicious fruit was recently enjoyed by many hungry children.  And, all feel welcome to shelter there.  Occasionally a misdirected soccer ball or high winds and rain may take out a young sapling or wipe out a tender crop.  Not a concern; another will soon be planted in its place as the children who nurture this garden tend to the continuing cycle of life here.

Mamadou watering mint, lovingly tending the garden
Mamadou watering mint, lovingly tending the garden
Issa framed by thriving grape vines
Issa framed by thriving grape vines
Ablaye is a faithful garden helper
Ablaye is a faithful garden helper
Garden highlights: Nebedaye, citronelle, lime, ...
Garden highlights: Nebedaye, citronelle, lime, ...
Jun 21, 2013

Talibe Day

Let the Games Begin - Talibe Day at MDG
Let the Games Begin - Talibe Day at MDG's Centre

May 2nd will be engraved in the memories of the talibé children of Saint Louis for many years.  The talibés face daily challenges no child ever should and live in unimaginable conditions which violate all of the provisions of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of The Child.  Yet, children they are, with a love of play and fun.  Talibé Day, organized by the volunteers and staff of Maison de la Gare, was all about the fun!

Designed to be a day off from begging and the daily challenges simply to live, Talibé Day was for the kids.  Many children arrived early to help tidy up the centre and convert the classrooms into play places.  There was an awareness that something special was about to unfold.  Activities began around 11 a.m., with around 100 talibés arriving along with Maison de la Gare’s international volunteers, representatives of other associations and some marabouts.

Volunteers organized hours of games the kids had never played before - sac races, water balloon, blind man's bluff, tag games and wheelbarrow races. There was also soccer, of course, and table tennis (without the table). The games were enjoyed enormously by all, big and small.  The little ones, in particular, loved dancing to the music of a live D.J., and did they have the moves!

Two classrooms were full to overflowing with children colouring and finger painting.  It was apparent that this was the first time doing so for many of the boys, who have missed out on a normal childhood. Some older teenage boys were as intent on colouring dinosaurs inside the lines in their colouring books as were the young ones.  It was enough to break one's heart and make it leap for joy all at once.

Massive quantities of Senegalese roasted rice with chicken, bags of water and orange juice were presented just in time to revive the exhausted children.  This was a feast far beyond the normal experience of the talibé children, and every last scrap of it was enjoyed.  After the meal, new clothes and shoes (a first pair for many) were distributed to the children.

After hours upon hours of games and fun the volunteers were exhausted, but the children clearly did not want the day or the opportunity to truly experience childhood, if only for a day, to end.  The children danced, sang, played and coloured until the long, wonderful day drew to a close.

Talibes line up to have Madison paint their faces
Talibes line up to have Madison paint their faces
Community women prepare a feast for the children
Community women prepare a feast for the children
... and the children enjoy every morsel!
... and the children enjoy every morsel!
Anta organizes children to receive new clothes
Anta organizes children to receive new clothes
Michael & Madison treat dozens of talibe children
Michael & Madison treat dozens of talibe children
Talibes children color intently - a new experience
Talibes children color intently - a new experience
Older talibes relax playing djembe
Older talibes relax playing djembe
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