Over 14,000 young boys, often trafficked from neighboring countries, are forced to beg on the streets of Saint Louis, Senegal. Known as talibes, these boys (girls are not forced to beg in this way), controlled by local heads of daaras, are recognized by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch as modern day slaves. Far from home and any support of family, the boys are subject to terrible abuse, forced to deliver daily quotas of money, and do not benefit from any of the UN rights of the child.
By offering a karate program to talibe children of Saint Louis, Maison de la Gare offers the chance for talibes to develop self-defense skills, critical for surviving on the streets and in the daara. Self-confidence, discipline and a sense of belonging are also gifts of martial arts. Even more, the development of a true passion for karate offers hope, a way for these children to define themselves as something other than talibes, to set and work for personal goals.
By helping begging street children develop into martial artists, this program will provide valuable skills and help hundreds of children to see themselves and to be seen differently. In developing confidence, discipline and hope for a better future as their passion for karate grows, the children will be developing the tools to eventually take back control of their own lives and rise out of enslavement to become productive young adult members of Senegalese society.