Jun 6, 2012

Reflections of a Departing Swedish Volunteer

Oscar Kvamme with talibe children
Oscar Kvamme with talibe children

Soon eight months will have flown by in the land of Teranga, and the time spent here has broadened my perspective of how hard life really can be.  Entering Saint-Louis, it didn’t take long time before I noticed these young boys, talibés, with dirty clothes walking barefoot by the side of the road, begging.  I’m really thankful to have been a part of MDG’s family, giving my best to be there for the kids who struggle with their everyday lives.

Living with a host family the first six months helped me to quickly get into the new culture. I got to see how a normal family lives, meeting their friends and families and celebrating mayor holidays such as tabaski and magal. In the beginning my French was very poor and I had a hard time getting by.  But the people here were kind to me and had patience.  Now my French has improved and I speak with an African intonation and sun in my voice.  Living in Senegal such a long time gave me the possibility to travel and see different parts of the country.  Green lush forests with waterfalls and chimpanzees down in wild Bassari country was my favorite.  Overall, this experience has shaped me to be slightly more Senegalese than Swedish, and opened my eyes to a different reality.

Talibés come all the time, morning and afternoon, to MDG’s centre in Saint Louis.  There’s no secret that they love it here.  Eager to get in, they wait outside until the gate opens – or climb over the high wall.  Once inside they’re in an oasis in the dessert, a place where they can escape their life for a while and just be what they are, kids.  Tending the garden, having classes or just talking, whatever we do together, it’s with happiness and love.  We are in some way all a big family and I think a lot of the kids feel the same.  Far away from their real homes, they know they’re not alone.

Their second family is called Maison de la Gare.

May 29, 2012

Soccer Championship Tournament in Saint Louis

Large banner announcing the soccer tournament
Large banner announcing the soccer tournament

The soccer tournament organized in April by the American Peace Corps in collaboration with Maison de la Gare was a total success.  Many of the organizations working for children’s rights in Saint Louis cooperated together to make this event possible.

The opening ceremony on April 5th marked the beginning of the tournament.  The matches followed one after the other, in the morning on the soccer field in Djoloféne, and in the afternoon at Wembley stadium in Balacos close to Maison de la Gare’s centre.

Maison de la Gare’s team qualified for the finals after a series of victories, each more challenging than the one before.  It was one of the invited teams, from a soccer school in Saint Louis, that succeed in overcoming its competition to face Maison de la Gare in the finals.

A large banner proclaimed the day of the finals on Friday, April 6th, a showdown held in the regional stadium Maître Babacar-Sèye, located on avenue Charles de Gaulle just across from the entrance to the Maison de la Gare centre.  A couple of hours before kick-off this enormous stadium was already full, swamped by fans from every corner of the city who came for the great spectacle.

In this amazing festive atmosphere, everyone present was united behind a single, unique objective ... the struggle against Talibé begging.  The participation of local authorities in the event should help bear fruit for this struggle.

The show was magnificent, constructive and unifying.  The “Jeux de faux lions” ... a popular Senegalese street spectacle, majorettes, a demonstration of martial arts, and dance and music with a rich mix of folkloric rhythms all contributed to the success of the event.

The entire event was characterized by a peaceful and happy community ambiance.  The Ndiawlingua soccer team squeezed out a victory in the final, after 120 minutes of play without a goal.  Nevertheless, Maison de la Gare’s team had every reason to be proud of its performance, losing in the final shoot-out with a score of 5 to 4!

Special appreciation is due to the American Peace Corps, which contributed prizes to all of the participating teams including jerseys, soccer shoes and soccer balls.

We intend to organize this tournament again next year and every year, as a part of the continuing struggle against begging and to improve the conditions of life for the Talibé street children. 

Maison de la Gare's team, with a Swedish volunteer
Maison de la Gare's team, with a Swedish volunteer
Amazing entertainment at the championship match
Amazing entertainment at the championship match
Talibe enthusiasts get in the spirit
Talibe enthusiasts get in the spirit
May 1, 2012

Maison de la Gare succeeds! Thank you!!

We are thrilled to report that, thanks to your donations during GlobalGiving's Open Challenge, Maison de la Gare has earned a permanent spot on GlobalGiving.org.  This is enormously important as Maison de la Gare works to diversify the association's sources of revenue, to provide a sustainable long-term base for its work to improve the lives of the begging talibé children and to give them hope for a productive future as contributing members of Senegalese society.

We received 71 donations during the open challenge, for a total of $5,032 :

 - 1 donor provided the funds to support a teacher in Maison de la Gare's Saint Louis center for one year ... $1,300.

 - 20 donors dedicated their contributions to offering nutritious food for the talibé students ... $1,010.

 - 5 donors contributed funds for gloves, sutures, compresses, bandages, cotton, alcohol, betadine soap, etc. for the infirmary in the Maison de la Gare center ... $360.

 - 6 donors supported the monthly soccer tournaments for the talibés ... $240. 

 - 2 donors designated their support for registering and supporting talibé students in formal schooling ... $180.

 - 1 donor financed purchase of a djembe drum for the music program ... $80.

 - 36 donors contributed funds for use where most needed ... $1,862.

Maison de la Gare appreciates this support enormously, and will keep you informed in these reports of the project's progress. 

We hope very much that you will continue to be our partners in our commitment to the talibés. 


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