Hope for begging talibe children, St-Louis Senegal

by Maison de la Gare
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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
Marabout Thierno Yeril Sow
Marabout Thierno Yeril Sow

Issa Kouyaté praises an important ally in the struggle to improve the lives of the begging talibé street children

"You can’t miss hearing his name in Saint Louis if you are speaking about modern or exemplary daaras.  Thierno Yéril Sow has committed his life to early childhood care and he continues to demonstrate this working with organizations dedicated to vulnerable children, assisting them with the care and integration of victims of trafficking and of other abusive situations into safe environments.

Thierno Yéril Sow has also provided Maison de la Gare’s center with invaluable support in dealing with the challenges that can often impede our work, in particular attacks by some Koranic teachers.  Most of these Koranic teachers or marabouts think that the reception centers have been established to stop Koranic teaching.  Recognizing this, Thierno Yéril Sow realized that he could make an important contribution by clarifying Maison de la Gare’s role with other marabouts, and by supporting us in getting closer to the daaras so that we can better aid the development of modern Koranic education.

A man of great integrity who is involved in almost all our activities, Thierno Yéril Sow is one of the marabouts who has dedicated themselves throughout their lives to Koranic education for the benefit of talibé children.  He set up his daara thirty years ago in the Fouta region of Senegal, before moving to Saint Louis.  Since that time, he has contributed to the emancipation of daaras in the Saint Louis region, truly earning the designation of “modern marabout” which his colleagues have given him.  He has become very involved with national and international organizations working for child protection, participating in forums and workshops in which he has demonstrate repeatedly his values as a marabout of integrity.

Consistent with his beliefs, Thierno Yéril Sow has supported his talibé students in participating in educational opportunities provided by child protection organizations such as Maison de la Gare.

Thierno Yéril Sow has now joined with Maison de la Gare as a marabout facilitator.  He makes a unique contribution supporting investigations of abusive situations and of children found living on the streets, as well as participating himself as a member of our “night rounds” team.  He has also returned some of the children found living on the streets to their home communities and is very involved as a mediator between runaway talibé children and their marabouts.

Thierno Yéril Sow’s role as a mediator has served a vital educational role for the marabouts of the Saint Louis area, helping them to understand the critical importance of the work being done by Maison de la Gare and other child protection organizations.

We pay tribute to him for the countless hours that he spends for the benefit of the talibé children and Senegalese society."

___________

One of the objectives set out in Maison de la Gare's bylaws is “To work in synergy with Koranic teachers to improve the living conditions of talibé children”.

Marabout Sow is a shining example of the relationships that we strive to establish.  He does his best for his talibés within the limitations of his means ... they must still beg for their food.  However, there is no abuse in his daara and there are no runaways.  Many of the children are connected with "Godmothers" in the community who provide them with regular meals, and the sleeping arrangements are much better than typical daaras.  And Marabout Sow supports the older youth in becoming established with small businesses.

Marabout Sow joined Maison de la Gare as a Member at the recent Annual General Meeting, where he spoke passionately of the importance of working with the talibés from conviction, with mutual respect.

Marabout Sow teaching young talibes in his daara
Marabout Sow teaching young talibes in his daara
In front of his daara with Issa & other marabouts
In front of his daara with Issa & other marabouts
Issa with Marabout Sow and his wife, in their home
Issa with Marabout Sow and his wife, in their home

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Let the party begin!  Over 400 talibes at MDG.
Let the party begin! Over 400 talibes at MDG.

Sonia shares her impressions and feelings from an incredible day

“World Talibé Day is celebrated all over Senegal, and it was certainly well celebrated by the talibé children of Maison de la Gare.

Talibé Day is a holiday for the forced begging street kids of Senegal.  Not for profit organizations, including Maison de la Gare, put on special programs for the kids to enjoy, including games to play and food to eat.  A few demonstrations were organized by some associations to raise awareness about the plight of the talibés.  But, for the hundreds of talibés at Maison de la Gare’s center on this day, it was a chance to relax and enjoy a party.

The day began as most other days.  Not long after Maison de la Gare’s doors opened, kids started to trickle in.  The trickle soon increased to a regular stream.  At about ten o'clock, karate kids started to arrive and put on their gi's in preparation for the Friday morning class.  As the kids gathered on the sand with Sensei, board games were beginning under the grape vine arbor in the garden while other boys climbed the vines as a jungle gym.  Some kids made their way over to the infirmary for treatment of their ailments and some TLC from nurses Abibou and Awa.

I had not realized it until this day but, terribly, the tiny malnourished talibé living in the emergency shelter, Seydou, had disappeared the night before.  A frantic search of several hours around the neighborhood revealed nothing.  A report was made to the police, but there is not much hope of finding him that way.  Why would he have run?  Seydou was developing a close trust relationship with a Belgian volunteer and seemed happy to be at Maison de la Gare.  Could he have been taken?  Did something spook him?  How can we know, and how can we find him?  He could not possibly survive for long on his own given the weakened state he was in.  Such a disaster at home would be all consuming, bringing life to a stop.  Here, it seems to be another sad but not uncommon African tragedy.  Hopefully, Seydou will be found and returned to this safe place.

Meanwhile, children continued to arrive. Many watched the karate training in action.  One adorable little boy on the sidelines practiced his own version of oizuki, a future karateka perhaps.  Other talibés began an enthusiastic game of soccer.  As the soccer ball disappeared over an eight-foot wall, soon too did a tiny little talibé boy hoping to retrieve it, which he did. 

In the afternoon, even greater numbers of kids arrived at the centre.  Both classrooms were full of students concentrating on their studies while outside the party was ramping up.  Maison de la Gare teacher Abdou Soumaré organized music broadcast through loudspeakers while he and older talibé leaders took turns with the microphone acting as Em Cee to the joyful crowd.  Amazingly, the students in the classrooms continued to devote themselves to their studies throughout the commotion and excitement happening just outside the window.

Lala Sène, a regular volunteer at the centre and a member of the national women’s soccer team, led a soccer tournament while a dance party started up in the sand nearby.  Whenever a team scored, everyone erupted into wild cheers and applause.  Then the game and the dancing would resume.  As the classes and games progressed, Oumou, Maison de la Gare’ cook, prepared a nutritious mixture for the sandwiches that would feed the crowd.  Older talibés assisted in chopping peppers and other ingredients to add to her pot.

Abdou took over the microphone, leading the kids like the pied piper around the Maison de la Gare compound while the staff and older talibés helped out frantically preparing sandwiches for hundreds of hungry celebrants.

Eventually the soccer winners were declared, the grand trophy was awarded and circulated around the centre in a victory lap and the winners were properly adored and celebrated by the crowd. 

Then the dinner line formed.  It seemed impossible that there could be room for everyone, or that the meal could be handed out in any kind of calm or order.  But, the seasoned Maison de la Gare staff had done this before and all were fed, at least this time.

As the last sandwiches were served, Abdou ramped up the music once more and dancing resumed despite the late hour and the dark.  Even my Dad went a little crazy, dancing like a teenager.  This was a time to let some of that pent up emotion out.  Understandably, no one wanted this magical party to end and volunteers, staff, and talibés alike set aside their worries for a moment and joined together to just celebrate life for a little longer.”

Grape vine arbor in garden becomes a climbing gym
Grape vine arbor in garden becomes a climbing gym
Friday morning karate class, as always with fans
Friday morning karate class, as always with fans
Volunteer Christoph with very vulnerable Seydou
Volunteer Christoph with very vulnerable Seydou
Tiny talibe disappears over 8-ft wall, after ball
Tiny talibe disappears over 8-ft wall, after ball
Cook Oumou prepares nutritious filling for buns
Cook Oumou prepares nutritious filling for buns
Soccer game in midst of dancing, cheering crowd
Soccer game in midst of dancing, cheering crowd
.. and, at least this time, there was food for all
.. and, at least this time, there was food for all

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Just a car engine?  No!  A path to the future ...
Just a car engine? No! A path to the future ...

Issa shares his dream to become an auto mechanic

Issa Bâ is a talibé from the region of Kolda.  Kolda is in the far south of Senegal, far from Saint Louis.  Issa has been in Saint Louis for years begging and working to meet his quota for his marabout and studying the Koran a few hours a week, while spending as much time as he can at Maison de la Gare where he has friends and can rely on people to watch out for him.

Now, as an older talibé transitioning away from forced begging, Issa is taking full advantage of the opportunities Maison de la Gare has to offer.  A few months ago he was offered a leadership role at the center, which he proudly accepted.  Now he is responsible for general maintenance and cleanliness of the center’s emergency shelter as well as assisting the younger talibés with hygiene.  The possibility for some older talibés be to members of Maison de la Gare’s staff provides a stepping stone between forced begging and independence, allowing these youth to be freed from forced begging even though they have not yet developed enough in education, skills or training to live successfully on their own.

While working daily at Maison de la Gare, Issa Bâ is also a dedicated mechanic's apprentice.  Upon learning of opportunities to acquire skills though Maison de la Gare's apprenticeship programs, Issa spoke up at the organization’s annual general meeting last November about his dream of learning to become an auto mechanic.

Now, Issa is in training at the mechanic shop Atelier Mame Dabakha Sy.  The manager, Daouda Sy, is impressed with Issa's dedication and diligence and thinks he should be ready to work independently as a mechanic in two years.

Issa arrives at the shop every morning at 9 a.m., remaining until 3 p.m.  Two days a week he returns to his daara to study the Koran for about an hour. The days he does not have Koranic studies he remains at the shop longer, eager to put in the training hours that will lead him closer to his goal.  Then, at 5 p.m., his work at Maison de la Gare begins.

Issa is also a karate student and trains each night at the Sor-Karate dojo for several hours, developing his passion for martial arts.  A few years ago, he became curious about the morning karate classes in Maison de la Gare’s center, and he soon joined in.  Issa is in training for his orange belt now.  Donors have sponsored him for membership at the Sor-Karate dojo.

Issa dedicates himself to each of his pursuits with uncommon dedication, recognizing his opportunities for what they really are: hope for the future.  Due to his skill and persevering attitude, he was invited to join the karate competition team and has had the opportunity to travel with the team several times for regional and national combat and kata competitions.

 

After years of forced begging, Maison de la Gare has made it possible for Issa Bâ to come a long way in a short time.  He is a leader, a role model for young talibés on their own and far from family, talibés without education or skills or any idea of how to obtain them.  Issa is apprenticing for work he loves.  And, his development as a martial artist is gaining him not just self-defense skill but confidence and respect.  And, the stamina and discipline to help him through the long days that are necessary to achieve his goals.

Issa Ba, from Maison de la Gare website
Issa Ba, from Maison de la Gare website
Issa speaks at AGM about his car mechanic dream
Issa speaks at AGM about his car mechanic dream
Issa with his mentor, mechanic Daouda Sy
Issa with his mentor, mechanic Daouda Sy
Deeply involved in the intricacies of a car engine
Deeply involved in the intricacies of a car engine
Issa receiving his yellow belt from Sonia LeRoy
Issa receiving his yellow belt from Sonia LeRoy
Issa (smiling) with Sor-Karate competition team
Issa (smiling) with Sor-Karate competition team

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Rowan and boys the morning after, in MDG's shelter
Rowan and boys the morning after, in MDG's shelter

Sonia shares the horror, and the hope, of a recent “night round”

“Since we discovered several years ago Issa Kouyaté’s personal night time habit of searching the dark alleys, transportation yards and dangerous, dark corners of Saint Louis for runaway talibés after midnight, "night rounds" have become part of Maison de la Gare's regular activities.  Teams now head out from the Maison de la Gare center at least twice a week in search of young boys who have run away from their daaras, typically due to abuse or fear of reprisal for failing to meet a begging quota.

The boys are at terrible risk when on the run. They try to strike a delicate balance between not being found, and not being too alone and thus subject to the whims of sexual predators or others ready to take advantage of them.  Their vulnerable lives become even more outrageously exposed to the chance of meeting evil when they are living on the streets at night.  During the days, the worst the talibés need to deal with on the streets is usually injury, hunger, exhaustion and bullying.  Imagine how bad it must be to know what awaits at night, and to run anyway.

Each time we have joined Issa or another team for a night round, we begin with barely suppressed excitement co-mingled with anxiety.  And, fear.  Not our own, but a sense of what the boys we are searching for must be feeling.  Excitement that we will find them and help them.   Anxiety that we might find them - we always hope there will be none on the streets tonight.  But, sadly, there are always many.

The very first time my dad, my daughter Rowan and I went out on a night round, what we saw branded us forever.  We had been intending to go out the night before, but were waiting for a news crew that wanted to follow Issa with cameras.  So we put it off.  The second night the news crew wanted us to postpone again but we decided to go.  We found four boys, huddled together in the cold tucked into their t-shirts.  One little one was more difficult to approach, more reluctant to trust us.  Rowan eventually won a tiny smile as she gently zipped her Lululemon jacket around him.  We learned later that he had been sexually assaulted the night before while on the street.  THE NIGHT BEFORE!  This knowledge is now part of me, will always be.

Last Tuesday night Idy and Bathe, leaders of the Maison de la Gare night round team, met Rowan and me at midnight at Maison de la Gare’s center.  We took taxis out to the Gare routière (the Saint Louis bus station) at the edge of town.  This is a large area full of hundreds of busses, trucks and cars all ready to take off first thing in the morning to different parts of Senegal, The Gambia and beyond.  The runaways often hide out here with the idea that they could steal away on a ride home.  How often do kids inadvertently end up in another, unknown country?  I cannot bear to imagine.  And, sometimes, as the kids sleep under vehicles to stay out of reach of potential predators, they are run over as the wheels start to move earlier than expected, before the sun rises.

We found five boys.  After meeting three more members of the team we split into two groups, Rowan in one with Idy and me in the other with Bathe.  We prowled through the narrow alleys and shone our flashlights under cars, into parked busses, behind crevices.  My light soon shone upon a grown man, huddled under a blanket, hidden behind a half-wall.  As my light moved along, it soon shone upon a tiny bundle, opposite to the grown man.  Ibrahima!  Bathe estimated his age at ten.  How could this little waif have been older than six?  Bathe gently woke him and spoke with him in Wolof.  The boy was convinced to follow us.  But I stayed a step behind, with a hand hovering and ready to leap just in case he chose to run. 

We soon found three more boys, piled together under canvas rags.  As they were gently woken from sleep, reality began to hit me hard as it does every time I do this.  Nothing to do but just DO.  After all, what is what I feel compared to what they lived?

We met up with Rowan's group and paused to note the names and daaras of the boys, and to learn something of their stories.  The night here is cold at this time of year.  Little Ibrahima was shivering, perhaps from the cold, perhaps from fear.  Rowan removed her favorite sweater (deja-vu) and put it on Ibrahima.  As he huddled into the new-found warmth, Rowan peeled a few oranges and handed them out.  Then, we hopped into taxis to return to the emergency shelter at Maison de la Gare.  As we were leaving the Gare routière, another little talibé came up to the car.  He had been watching.  We must have looked like help and not hurt.  He hopped in.  Then he fell right asleep.

When we arrived back at the center, the boys were registered with the social worker who is always on duty.  Rowan and I helped find the bedding and set them up in the shelter’s bunk beds, likely the first beds they had ever known.

 

Rowan and I returned in the morning and settled in with the little runaways.  They seemed to trust us, and were soon out of their shells, playing chase and tickle games, reading and dancing to music.  One by one, the social worker sat with them to try to figure out where they were from, which daara, which village, country?  Had they been abused?  Did they want to go home?  Did they have a home to return to?

This time only one boy, Amadou, will be returned to his distant home.  This is planned for later next week, after his marabout can be located and has been called to account.  The others will be returned to their daaras later today.  A difficult thing.  But, the Palais de Justice has spoken, and the boys did not choose home - maybe none exists any longer for them?  But, Maison de la Gare now knows them, and they now know Maison de la Gare.  Maison de la Gare will watch their daaras.  Their marabouts know they will be watching.  This helps.

I saved writing about our night round until we were safely on our way home, flying back toward my usual reality.  Each one of us seems to know just what we can take.  These talibé boys seem to be able to take more than most of us.  But, for the love of God, why must they?”

____________

We are grateful to all of our precious supporters who make our work for these children possible.

Three boys piled together under a canvas sheet
Three boys piled together under a canvas sheet
Idy wakes them, and gently convinces them to come
Idy wakes them, and gently convinces them to come
Bathe reassures a reluctant talibe runaway
Bathe reassures a reluctant talibe runaway
Tucked into a bunk bed, under a warm quilt
Tucked into a bunk bed, under a warm quilt
Aby & Amadou encourage a child to share his story
Aby & Amadou encourage a child to share his story
Amadou, happy with his decision to return home
Amadou, happy with his decision to return home

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Chuck in conversation with talibe children
Chuck in conversation with talibe children

Chuck is an inspiration to us all

"When I began the search for a volunteer post in French speaking Africa, it was just by accident (or luck) that I ran across Maison de la Gare.  I thought I'd find a place to teach English, as I'd done in three previous postings at schools in Thailand, Laos and Mexico.  I had come to international volunteering late in life, but what I'd found had been both fascinating and adventuresome, a compelling combination for me.  So, at 80, I was not going to back off quite yet. 

The Maison de la Gare website was immediately appealing, a chance to help out with these boys who are forced to beg daily on the streets of Saint Louis.  I didn't know how exactly I could lend a hand, but thought that perhaps I could teach something - or just do whatever was asked.  I sent off a query to Issa Kouyaté, the director.

And received an immediate reply.  I took the live-with-a-family option (over the hotel) and family living turned out to be key in my plunge into the local scene with all the challenges and satisfactions that go with cultural immersion.

So, after a few days in the chaotic, colorful capital of Dakar to get my Senegalese bearings, have a look around and get tuned in to the local French accent, I arrived in Saint Louis on the doorstep of Mme Soda Beye with just enough time to meet the family - son, daughter and grandson - before sitting down on a carpet and sharing the main meal of the day from a large common bowl and eating either with fingers or a soup spoon (my choice) and, this being a Muslim country, right hand only (I only had to be reminded once or twice with a poke in the ribs).   The meal was the national dish called Thiéboudienne, cooked fish and vegetables over rice and covered with a spicy, tasty sauce.  I was to see numerous variations of this dish over the coming weeks.   Sitting side by side with family members, sharing from the same large pot and engaging in animated conversation, made me feel like one of the family right away.

The next morning, Issa picked me up and walked me the 20 minutes to Maison de la Gare's center just off a main street across from the soccer stadium.   Staff members were warmly welcoming and, although the first boys I met initially looked wide-eyed at the stranger, it wasn't long until they were all smiles and high-fives.  The Maison de la Gare compound is made up of a basic office/computer and TV/library building, a common outdoor clothes washing and bathing area, a row of toilet stalls, a kitchen, an emergency shelter, three classrooms and, separately, an infirmary, all grouped around the central play yard of sand.

After some orientation and observing I wandered into the infirmary and there found my place.  After seeing a succession of these boys aged 5 to 15 - mostly in ragged, much used clothing - be treated for wounds and cuts (to bare feet), abrasions, skin and scalp conditions and sometimes burns or scabies, I was asked to help out.

And so began my daily routine, showing up at the opening bell and taking my place beside my co-workers, Awa and Abibou.  It wasn't difficult to learn the routines of cleaning, bandaging and assisting other procedures, but it was very rewarding to offer these helpful treatments to the boys, the talibés, so poignantly in need of comfort, support and attention.  It wasn't long before I felt like one of the team. 

Often the infirmary wasn't so busy in the afternoon and the activities director Abdou, a wonderful, talented guy, got me involved in helping run the simple games, races and more that these kids so loved.  Watching them enjoy themselves, happily free and at play, was sheer joy.  After helping hand out a late afternoon snack, I went to a classroom and taught basic conversational English and French.  The lack of materials was sometimes frustrating but the kids were so enthusiastic and full of energy that it was a happy class experience nonetheless.  Yet when the gates closed, it was sad to think of these happy faces going back to the squalid, overcrowded and often abusive living conditions to which they are subjected by the so-called Koranic teachers who exploit them.

I'm a longtime city biker, so Issa found me a bike which not only took me daily to the center, home for lunch and back for the afternoon session, but also propelled me to explore all corners of the city and, on the weekends, the countryside as well.  There was much to take in, from colorful markets to teeming shopping streets and stark, gritty poverty.  Saint Louis, once the vibrant capitol of all of French West Africa, is now a tale of faded glory.  Yet exploring the remnants of French colonial times, the vital fishing port with its hundreds of brightly painted boats and the Artisan Village that was home to many friendly and talented craftsmen, these were just a few of the myriad of wonders to be discovered during my stay. 

This has been about the journey of a volunteer, yet the real story is about the boys, the talibés, sent from impoverished rural homes to Saint Louis to 'study' (read memorize) the Koran and who find themselves beggars, horribly exploited by their teachers.  The practice is in fact illegal, but so ingrained in the local culture that it stubbornly persists.  Maison de la Gare has made important inroads, provided heightened awareness, improved hygiene, nutrition and, perhaps most importantly, given hope to so many boys.  Yet there remains much to be done.

To my colleagues Abdou , Bouri, Awa, Abibou, Mamadou, Kalidou who taught English with me, Souleymane who led karate class, Aïda my French teaching friend and Issa, just to name a few of the dedicated staffers, I was in awe of your fierce dedication to the talibé cause.  It doesn't take long, observing these rag-tag boys washing themselves and their clothes, brushing teeth (many for the first time), making friends with one another and playing their games, to understand the dedication to their cause that grips the staff as well as the international support network that sustains their efforts."

High five with a young talibe
High five with a young talibe
Chuck greets Maison de la Gare nurse Awa Diallo
Chuck greets Maison de la Gare nurse Awa Diallo
Treating a child in the infirmary
Treating a child in the infirmary
Chuck and Abdou organizing afternoon games
Chuck and Abdou organizing afternoon games
A much anticipated and desperately needed snack
A much anticipated and desperately needed snack
Teaching talibes students in an evening class
Teaching talibes students in an evening class

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Organization Information

Maison de la Gare

Location: Saint Louis - Senegal
Website:
Project Leader:
Rod LeRoy
Saint Louis, Saint-Louis Senegal
$130,526 raised of $139,500 goal
 
1,652 donations
$8,974 to go
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