Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal

by Maison de la Gare
Play Video
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal
Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal

Joey shares his impressions from his Senegalese volunteer experience

Before my time in Senegal, I understood the idea that it takes a village to raise a child as an old proverb to encourage community and communal support. Now, I have seen firsthand a more profound meaning of this saying.

Nestled on the coast in the old capital city of Saint Louis, just off the main street across from the soccer stadium, you will find the organization Maison de la Gare. But “organization” does not do it justice. When I think of an organization, I think of front desks, nametags, big donors, and board meetings. This is not the case at Maison de la Gare. Maison de la Gare is truly a group of people, a tribe, a tribe that takes the safety, security, and success of each talibé boy personally.

When I arrived in Senegal, I had read a bit of the history of the former French colony, but I did not understand the impact of the system that still governs the country. Maison de la Gare is made up of people who stand for equity and for a fighting chance for the young and neglected talibés. But they are not just fighting a situation, they are fighting a government and a culture. The system of daaras, marabouts, and the talibés is antiquated, but it is engrained in the country systemically, legally, and culturally. This uphill battle can only be fought by people who truly believe in a better, brighter future.

The battle for a better future is fought on two fronts at Maison de la Gare. Firstly, in investing in the boys. Boys are found living on the streets by Amadou, made to feel at home by Noël, taught to play sports with Lala, taught literacy by Abdou, taught to sew by Kalidou and Baka, taught to raise poultry by Samba and Cheikh Ablaye, and taught to give back by Issa, and this is just a small part of the Maison de la Gare family. This is investment in the boys, in their future, in their lives. When the boys grow a bit older, Ndaraw can help them develop a business plan, and they can receive a loan to start a business and become self-sustaining earners.

But this is not enough, as the far away families of distant towns perpetuate the system of daaras by sending their boys away to abusive marabouts. Maison de la Gare attacks the problem on this front too, advocating and hosting meetings with various UN agencies, spreading the word to families about the corrupt system, and working with marabouts to teach them how to properly take care of the boys.

I equate Maison de la Gare to a village, not because one person teaches sports and another sewing, but because it is made up of leaders and adults who are exemplary in their demeanor, actions, and values. You will never have a conversation with Adama without her cracking up as she walks away, and Diodio will tell you herself that her favorite sport is smiling. And of course Issa, who has dedicated his life to the betterment of thousands of boys. He is the man who seems to never sleep, always has something to do, the local hero, the well-builder, the UN correspondent, whatever you want to call him … and still most days he has time to get some soccer in with the boys and, yes, he is a good player. So, despite the inordinate number of issues that seem to bring impending doom on this little village, somehow, I left feeling hopeful.

I left feeling hopeful because the talibé boys are in good hands; they live amongst people who, with every bone and cell in their bodies, genuinely care. I arrived to volunteer at an organization but found myself immersed in a village of noble souls, and that taught me more about being a good person than any organization could.

 

To the people of the village of Maison de la Gare, what you are doing is working, garnering international support, and improving the state of the world. Thank you, and I hope to come back soon.

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Emmanuelle struggles to understand the situation of the begging talibé street children

This is Emmanuelle's second report, written while she was a volunteer with Maison de la Gare in May 2021. In it, she tries to develop some understanding of how it is possible that thousands of children beg on the streets while others in society, who see them every day, seem unaware of their plight and of the injustice that they live.

___________________

"I want to talk to you about contrast. Always this striking contrast, but this time more precisely about the talibés.

The contrast that struck me throughout my stay in Saint Louis concerns habits. Already, as the days are passing very differently from my daily life in Paris, some new habits are taking root little by little.

Taking my cold shower in the morning, a habit that I will appreciate from now on. The pipes warm the water up a bit, thanks to the sun. It’s not too cold here, at least not for me, although it’s not unusual to see some children shivering in the morning in the streets, either students on their way to school or the young talibés with empty stomachs who arrive in the city center to beg.

There too, my gaze gets used to it little by little. And theirs to mine too. Some of them come to Maison de la Gare’s center and, when I pass them in the street, they call to me and say hello with a wide smile and without asking me for anything.

I used to like to say that HABIT IS DESTINY, and I am not the only one. All the personal development books remind us of the importance of routines, routines that structure you, organize you and cause you to repeat a sequence of actions that will eventually become automatic. Then, motivation will take a back seat and will no longer be as essential to completing your tasks.

However, if habits can be beneficial, they also have the power to make people accept the unacceptable. And I am realizing this here, a wake-up call like a big slap in the face.

Hundreds of children who have no access to basic hygiene, who don't eat properly, who are dressed in torn and oversized clothes, who beg on the streets all day, this is the daily landscape of downtown Saint Louis and everyone has accepted it, again by habit.

People speak to me of tenacious beliefs, of ignorance, of ultimate solutions for feeding the children, of a scourge that cannot be stopped any more as there are so many new daaras being set up. I believe that these people do not realize the tragedy of their words.

Of course, there are the shopkeepers and sometimes some passers-by who will give a coin, or a small bag of rice. Here again is a habit that avoids questioning by helping with the most urgent, the most vital needs.

Among the social actors, those who work with the children, I have also seen some who, because they are used to being confronted with misery, pay less attention now to what is in front of their eyes every day. They sometimes forget the importance of their task, and the extent to which they have in their hands the power to change the future of these children who have been left all alone to face the very worst.

And finally, the worst of all, the most unbearable and difficult to see and describe, is the habit of misery for these children.

They have only known this, they are only in contact with this. They receive no education, no care, no attention... but they remain children who laugh, who dance sometimes and who are together with others, often from the same daara.

I believe that the first mission of a volunteer here, and by far the most important, is this …

Whoever he or she is, no matter his or her origin, education or skills, to remind us through their tearful eyes, through their constant astonishment, their dejected looks, their silences or their questions, that everything that happens here in Saint Louis is not normal, that it is not right, that it is not tolerable, and that we cannot stay and watch this scourge out of habit, but rather stand up and act!

There is nothing that can justify a child begging in the street without shoes, it’s that simple. Just imagine the dangers of all types that surround these vulnerable little human beings!

Finally, some photos, maybe not the best, but some images that touched me more than others, and then this contrast of course, between the beautiful tourist Saint Louis and the daily life of these young talibés."

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
This photo demands our attention on several levels
This photo demands our attention on several levels

Emmanuelle reflects on Maison de la Gare’s motto, stimulated by her experience in a daara

Maison de la Gare is drilling wells to provide clean water in several of the worst daaras in Saint Louis. That's a story for another report. Here, Emmanuelle shares her feelings as she watches the work in progress.

___________________

"When I know that most of them instinctively answer without thinking that they would like to become a marabout when they grow up, I struggle to understand how new role models can support them and guide them on a path to more dignity and self-respect.

Today, I am working on producing a video about Maison de la Gare’s installation of drinking water wells in a very precarious location. I have spent a lot of time over the past several days with the team that is carrying out this project.

Making this video is particularly complicated for me because the work is technical and I have taken hundreds of photos and made numerous videos; the sorting is very time-consuming, working with each shot, and organizing them so that I can turn them into a coherent story about this project.

But today, while sorting through the photos, I saw one in particular that I wanted to share with you, because it represents perfectly my understanding of the people whom I have met since my arrival here.

There are those who are in the foreground in this photo, so few in number. These few are humble, committed, willing and available, and they work actively to achieve real change. Here, it is Abdoulaye (who lives in the room next to mine, who’s from Casamance and came to work for this project) and Souleymane (a former talibé who was born in Gambia and grew up in a daara in Saint Louis) who are starting the work on construction of a well in a daara where hygiene conditions are worse than questionable. The existing well is open to the air, filthy, and a breeding ground for bacteria and other contaminants.

I am so in awe of who they are, what they do, and the hope they represent. I'm really happy to have met them because being surrounded by people like them is precious, even more so here.

Behind, in the background, you can see some of the talibé children from this daara. These talibés, everyone agrees, are the Men of tomorrow, who here in this daara do not go to school, sleep with more than 15 in the same room, and go out to beg for a few coins or food early in the morning, sometimes until very late at night.

When we arrived, they were discreet and amazed by our presence. Then, they quickly approached us to see what we were doing, to understand, to help.

All of them except one, who can't get up by himself, because he broke his leg several weeks ago and he hasn't been treated, so he stays here all day, without moving.

It's distressing, yes, clearly. But when I see them around the team participating and smiling, I tell myself that all is not lost, and that everything is still possible for them.

And then, finally, there are those in the far background. The most elegant in their clothing, the most smiling too and the most welcoming to the arrival of a white woman.

They are the marabout of the daara with some relatives or neighbors, I imagine. They stayed there in their beautiful clothes all day, sitting in the shade talking to each other. No effort, nothing, no gratitude for the team, no special attention for the children.

It's so revolting!

Anyway, I hope you took the time to read my text, which goes with this first picture, and to look at the few other photos that I'm adding. Because this picture doesn't just show two men in flip-flops digging a well. This photo shows all the action and energy of some people in the face of the cruelty and immobility of others, all in front of a generation of Men in the making.

So, don't misunderstand this photo looking at it quickly, because here you can see eloquently that the real men are those who wear flip-flops and have their feet full of mud!"

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Three more cases of talibé children subjected to a brutal contemporary form of slavery

Almost every child who comes into Maison de la Gare’s center is a victim of a contemporary form of slavery, whether they come to participate in our daytime programs or they have been rescued from the streets by our night rounds team. Each child has a different story, but what they all have in common is that they were separated from their families at a young age and forced to live in severely abusive conditions for many years while having to beg or work for their own food as well as for money for the person controlling them.

We recently shared elements of three of the 85 case studies that we have prepared since 2012 for our applications and reports to the United Nations Fund for the Struggle Against Contemporary Forms of Slavery. We share three more of these case studies here, to further illustrate the situations of these children and to introduce other members of our dedicated staff who struggle every day to give them a chance in life. Once again, the boys' names and places of origin have been changed for their protection, and we are not including any photos of them.

Abdoulaye (16 years old)

Our street educator, Ndeye Aby Bâ, reports that Abdoulaye was sent to a daara in Saint Louis at a young age by his family in central Senegal. He was neglected in his daara, forced to beg for his food and for money for his marabout. Now 16, Abdoulaye has not seen his family for many years. He has run away from his daara several times over the years and was brutally beaten each time he returned.

Abdoulaye’s marabout abandoned his daara at the beginning of the pandemic, and Abdoulaye ran away once more. This time he lived alone on the streets for several months, suffering extreme deprivation and hunger. Mamadou Gueye and the night rounds team found him sleeping alone, and Abdoulaye agreed to accompany them to Maison de la Gare’s center. He stayed in our emergency shelter for several days, recovering his health, eating nutritious meals, and having his injuries treated by our nurse Awa Diallo in the infirmary.

Aby investigated Abdoulaye’s case, exploring possibilities with him. He refused to return to his village, as he no longer has any links there and would likely just be sent back to his daara. Abdoulaye agreed to register in our poultry farming apprenticeship program, to learn the skills he needs to become self-supporting. While in this program, he is living with some other older talibés in transition in an apartment provided by Maison de la Gare. He is at our center regularly to wash, eat and receive hygiene and medical support. He also participates regularly in the karate program, which provides strong reinforcement of his growing sense of self-respect and empowerment.

Moussa (10 years old)

Moussa was sent to a daara in Saint Louis from his home village in Guinea Bissau when he was only 6 years old. Although his family had understood that he would be learning the Quran, Moussa is effectively a slave, forced to beg for his food and for a financial quota to pay to his marabout. Living without access to potable water or hygiene facilities, he was filthy, in bare feet and wearing rags when he first came to Maison de la Gare two years ago. He had discovered our center by word of mouth from other talibé children.

Abdou Soumaré reports that, when Moussa first came to Maison de la Gare, he seemed small for his age, malnourished and very timid. After his first few visits, he began to eat regularly, take showers, and pass his time participating in games and playing with the other children. Moussa started to watch the morning karate classes in the center. He became interested but stayed shyly on the sidelines. Finally, after a month, his curiosity got the better of him and he asked Abduramane Buaró, the instructor, if he could join.

Once he started karate, Moussa never missed a class. He eats regularly at the center and has gained strength and stature. He now comes every day to the center. He is full of confidence, respectful and listens attentively, skills learned through karate. Moussa now has a sense of self-respect, evidenced by his efforts to keep himself and his clothes as clean as possible. He participated in his first karate tournament at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic struck.

Moussa is only 10 years old, so he could continue in his daara for another 10 years. We expect that Maison de la Gare will be a big part of his life during this time. We are now encouraging him to participate in French literacy classes, and he is very motivated to advance in karate and to earn higher belts, as many of the older talibés have.

Alioune (13 years old)

Our street educator Aby Bâ reports that Alioune began coming regularly to Maison de la Gare’s center in 2017. At the time, he had already been a talibé for almost five years, having been sent to Saint Louis from his home in central Senegal when he was only five years old. His parents had not been involved in his life since he was sent to Saint Louis, and he suffered enormously from the harsh living conditions and from being forced to beg on the streets for many hours each day for his food and for the quota of money for his marabout.

In Alioune’s case, his marabout was often away, and he had to give the proceeds of his begging to the “grands talibés”, older boys in the daara acting on behalf of the marabout. As is often the case, these grands talibés are the worst abusers, perhaps living out the abusive behavior that they themselves had been subjected to, and perhaps feeling a sense of power in their lives with little to look forward to.

Alioune’s marabout was away during the worst of the pandemic, leaving the grands talibés in charge. They collected the daily quotas on behalf of the marabout and sent the money to him, but otherwise left the young talibés to fend for themselves, without food or any sort of care or supervision. They beat Alioune brutally when he failed to submit his quota.

In September of 2020, Mamadou Gueye and the Maison de la Gare night rounds team found Alioune sleeping alone on the street. Since he knew Maison de la Gare well, he agreed to come with the team to the emergency shelter. He stayed in the shelter until his marabout was able to come to answer questions about the beatings that he had received. The marabout assured Aby that he had not beaten Alioune himself and that he had now returned to the daara and would ensure that the beatings would stop. However, later the next month the marabout was again away, and Alioune ran away after another brutal beating. The night rounds team found him again. This time, the street educators took Alioune home to his village and found his family. They agreed to register him at a local daara so that he can live at home with them. As soon as it is safe again after the pandemic, our street educators will make a follow-up visit to the village to ensure that Alioune is safe and that his new daara is well supervised.

____________

With gratitude to the United Nations Fund for the Struggle Against Contemporary Forms of Slavery, and to all our precious donors. You make possible our work to bend the lives of these innocent children towards hope and justice.

Street Educator Ndeye Aby Ba
Street Educator Ndeye Aby Ba
Aby registering talibe children found in the night
Aby registering talibe children found in the night
Abdou Soumare, responsible for education programs
Abdou Soumare, responsible for education programs
Abdou teaching a literacy class
Abdou teaching a literacy class
Buaro leading a karate class in MDG center
Buaro leading a karate class in MDG center
Mamadou Gueye, key member of the night rounds team
Mamadou Gueye, key member of the night rounds team

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Katia and Mila with children in the classroom
Katia and Mila with children in the classroom

(This report was scheduled for publication in March 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. We are sharing it with you now as vaccinations are spreading and travel is beginning to appear possible again. Volunteers play a vital role in our support for the begging talibé street children, and we hope others will be inspired to follow Mila and Katia’s example.)

Mila Giraudon and Katia Figura share their experience volunteering together

My mother and I have been fortunate to travel around the world and to discover many cultures, at times seeing extreme poverty. We have wanted for a long time to get involved in a humanitarian project together, although we didn’t know what this could be or how we would do it. We therefore left home with the simple purpose of helping, of making ourselves useful within this organization.

Maison de la Gare gave us an experience far beyond our expectations, much more than a simple "project". We were able to get a feeling for the life of the talibés in all its facets … their everyday lives on the streets, their rudimentary needs (washing their clothes and themselves) and learning the rules of life in society, but also their physical and emotional wounds and their precarious living conditions in their daaras.

What a wonderful feeling to see them smile and to make them forget, if only for a moment, their lives on the streets, through creative play activities, songs and lessons in French or mathematics.

My mother (a mother of two) and I (a 17-year-old high school student) lived this experience differently ... but we shared it fully, together.

We were very moved by these children who only ask to escape their difficult lives through their desire to learn, to discover, to create and to show their pride in their beautiful drawings and other creations.

On the last day of our stay Abdou, a child to whom I had taught notions of poetry, wrote me a very powerful poem. He announced to me that he had just been accepted in a high school in Saint Louis, the lifelong dream of this self-taught child. It was a moment of emotion and pride. I felt like I had contributed a little to a "better life" for a talibé child. Teaching children basic literacy and reintegrating them in society is one of the priority missions of volunteers and members of Maison de la Gare.

I will remember the day of my birthday as both unforgettable and overwhelming because, for the talibés, it is a day like any other. These young children stood in front of me, singing and dancing, but none of them understood the meaning of the word "birthday"; most do not even know their date of birth!

Carrying out a humanitarian project like this brought my mother and me a lot closer and enabled us to support each other during certain trying times. On the last day, we agreed to accompany Maison de la Gare’s night-rounds team. That night we needed each other to overcome the images of children sleeping on the ground in the unhealthy and dangerous bus terminal. Abandoned, often mistreated, they preferred to flee their daara or their family, and they found shelter for the night at Maison de la Gare. The next morning, everything is set in motion to find the children’s families and to understand what could have pushed them to put themselves in such danger.

During these few days shared with the talibés, we became aware of the fundamental role of NGOs like Maison de la Gare that work night and day for the well-being of these neglected children. Beyond what we were able to do ourselves, it is Maison de la Gare’s values and its people that will always remain etched in our memories.

Our host Mama Touty was truly a welcoming "mother"; heart in hand, she welcomed us as her children.

We were the first mother-daughter duo to live this unforgettable experience and we warmly thank Maison de la Gare and everyone who is a part of it.

Mila treats the foot wound of an older talibe
Mila treats the foot wound of an older talibe
Mila with her art class
Mila with her art class
Mila tutors Buaro, our karate leader
Mila tutors Buaro, our karate leader
Katia helps a talibe student
Katia helps a talibe student
Katia and Mila, very moved by a visit to a daara
Katia and Mila, very moved by a visit to a daara
Mila leading games in the courtyard of MDG center
Mila leading games in the courtyard of MDG center
A moment of celebration with MDG staff members
A moment of celebration with MDG staff members

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Maison de la Gare

Location: Saint Louis - Senegal
Website:
Project Leader:
Rod LeRoy
Saint Louis, Saint-Louis Senegal
$156,839 raised of $164,500 goal
 
1,992 donations
$7,661 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Maison de la Gare has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.