Abdou, Lalla, Adama, Jade Wheldon and all Maison de la Gare’s team create a day of wonder for the talibé children
Christmas came and went at Maison de la Gare without our usual Christmas party for the talibé children … our finances were just too tight at the end of the year, and we couldn’t do it.
But Abdou, Lalla, Adama and other staff members were very unhappy about Christmas coming and going without a celebration for the boys. Jade, our English volunteer, started to raise some money from friends and family. Then a friend of Abdou’s in France made a generous donation. Suddenly the party was on, just before New Year’s!!
Abdou, Adama and Jade came up with a plan to have balloons, music, and entertainment and lots of little goody bags for the children. Also, a special gift for the students in Tata Aïda’s literacy class to encourage them for having worked so hard this year.
Everyone pitched in. Oumou cooked a feast, fried chicken with a nutritious vermicelli enriched with carrots, onions, paprika, peppers, parsley, celery and finely chopped green apricots. Oumou’s team prepared 100s of food trays, enough for all the children. Abdou, Lalla, Adama and Boury blew up balloons and put up decorations, transforming the center. Awa, Aïda and many others packed goody bags and wrapped the prizes for the games and the gifts for the lucky students.
And what a party! Word spread quickly, and over 500 talibé children came; it was a roaring success. “It was definitely a huge team effort,” Jade reports. “Once we knew it was going ahead, things unfolded quickly; it felt so great to work together as one big team. Adama was a key organizer and totally brilliant. Lalla and Abdou were amazing with the kids.”
We started with games, to music. And a dance competition. Jade taught the boys how to play ‘Pass the Parcel’, which they loved!! Then the drummers turned up, Sidy Bouya and his band of merry drummers, and the children danced in a big circle. After some time, beautiful dancers emerged in their traditional clothing. They enacted a story for the children, to the beat of the drums. Lalla and Abdou had the children singing and clapping the entire time.
As the sun went down, there were rumblings that Père Noël might be making a visit. And Abdou quietly disappeared to make their dream come true. The rest of the evening was magic.
The gifts were the goody bags for all the children, along with surprise packages for the winners of Pass the Parcel and other games. The diligent students from Aïda’s class were rewarded with tracksuits and shoes.
Jade said afterwards that “It was truly amazing to see them all smiling and having so much fun. There is something really beautiful about everyone – Muslim and Catholic – celebrating each other’s holidays together.” Adama commented simply “We are exhausted, but it was super!”
Abdou remembers “An impressive party with so many children enthralled by the show and a very dedicated organizing team. The gifts that we were able to offer to the children thanks to our donors made them feel like children living in a family.” Lalla adds “We have to do this every year. It was a very good party, and the children were very happy. Really, thank you for everything.”
Our most sincere thanks to Joe Moreth, Debbie Warden, Rick Bisby, Kay Cooke,Uli Henking and a friend from France, whose Christmas donations made this incredible event possible.
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