Maison de la Gare, Saint Louis, Senegalhttp://www.mdgsl.com
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1000s of boys between 3 and 19 years of age beg on the streets of Senegal for their food and for money to give the "teacher" who controls them. In Saint-Louis, Maison de la Gare is changing this. Maison de la Gare's new centre in Saint-Louis is a secure
Tens of thousands of talibe children beg on the streets of Senegal for 6 to 10 hours each day for their food and for money to give the "teacher" or Marabout who controls them. They live in unconscionable conditions in "daaras", without access to running water, rudimentary hygiene or nurture, often without shelter and subject to severe abuse.
Maison de la Gare is acting with the objective of ending talibe begging in Saint Louis, estimated to include over 7,000 boys between the ages of 3 and 19. Having started in rented quarters in the former train station or "gare", a permanent welcome center was built in 2010 with the financial and organizational support of international partners. Programs at this center support the talibes of Saint Louis in obtaining a basic education or, for older talibes, learning marketable skills.
All talibe children touched by Maison de la Gare's programs develop a vision of what life can be beyond their daaras. We are integrating 25 to 50 per year in formal schooling, and providing older talibes with tailoring and gardening skills so 15 to 25 per year become autonomous contributors to society. We participate aggressively in local, national and governmental efforts to develop strategies for elimination of talibe street begging, and to agree on concerted actions to achieve this.
Three volunteers arrived at Maison de la Gare at the beginning of February 2013, a French couple (Michael Gobert and Gwen Gueguen) and an American student from Oregon, Madison Burgdorfer. All three chose to contribute in the health and education activities defined in Maison de la Gare’s volunteer program. The volunteer's mornings are taken with health care in the daaras where the children live, and with a myriad of other tasks. Then every day beginning at 5 p.m. there is a rush at Maison de la Gare’s center, as the talibé children arrive to meet with the volunteers. The volunteers first identify any children who need medical attention, and then they gather in the classrooms with the children for French, Math and English instruction. The children are making great progress from a very low base, many of them reading, writing and performing simple calculations.
After school hours, volunteer Michael Gobert brings his students to the library to continue their introduction to computers. With his help, their skills have improved greatly and many of them are communicating regularly with Canadian school children, the program launched in November by a Canadian student. Michael has taught the children to prepare better messages so as to be able to better communicate with their Canadian friends.
Madison, Gwen and Michael have now been joined by Christine Thuault of France and Tommaso Arosio of Italy. All five live with Senegalese host families, and greatly appreciate their introduction to Senegalese life. Working with one of Maison de la Gare’s teachers, Aida Dieng, Christine initiated literacy classes for talibé children in Daara Serigne Thiam; more than fifty children attend this twice-weekly introduction to French education. Tommaso supports all of Maison de la Gare’s activities, but he is making his greatest contribution in his field of choice ... animating the sports program. Tommaso organizes tournaments between teams of talibé children, and he is much appreciated as a referee.
With their gentle and respectful approach, the volunteers change the lives of talibé children with whom they are working. But they will also be changed themselves. They are all making invaluable contributions to Maison de la Gare and to the talibé children it serves, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
Maison de la Gare organizes regular football (soccer) tournaments for the talibes of Saint Louis. Football is universally adored, and the talibe children demonstrate an impressive level of skill as they play, despite poor nutrition and hydration and a lack of shoes on their feet. What they have no shortage of is determination, competitive spirit, and love for the beautiful game.
As the children waited for the bus that would transport them to the Senegol Field in Gandon, about 15 km from Saint Louis, they got pumped-up with djembe drumming, dancing, and a general spirit of celebration. On the bus, which was packed to its limit with excited children, the celebrations continued with clapping, drumming, and chanting.
The tournament included three games, played among the teams fielded by associations dedicated to improving the talibes' lives, Maison de la Gare, Taliberte and Claire Enfance. Younger talibes, hopeful of a future spot on a team, watched attentively from the sidelines.
All the talibe players demonstrated heart and skill. But, Maison de la Gare's team was triumphant, winning both matches, 2-0 and 3-0, emerging as the victors for the day overall. The proud spirit of victory and sense of happiness clung to the Maison de la Gare children, staff, and international volunteers alike for the rest of the day, and beyond.
Maison de la Gare staff and international volunteers accompagnied thirty talibe children on a field trip to the Guembeul Natural Fauna Reserve, a half hour drive from Saint Louis in northern Senegal. The excursion was a welcome holiday from the regime of forced begging that the boys live with every day. For some the talibes, it was the first time they had left the city in over five years and, for many, it was their first exposure to the rich natural environment that is part of their African heritage.
Young talibes were fascinated to hold baby sulcata turtles in their hands and they were astonished at the size of the turtles' 72-year-old father. The children enjoyed searching for and spotting scimitar-horned onyx and dama gazelles, now all extinct in the African wild.
The day was a delight for the children and adults alike. It was a day of freedom to play, explore and simply enjoy being a child. And, it sure beats begging.
Maison de la Gare has benefited enormously from its association with GlobalGiving over the past year. Donations have totaled over $9,900 from 210 donors. We are grateful for your support of hope for a new life for the begging talibé street children of Senegal.
Thanks to your caring, Maison de la Gare’s projects in Saint Louis are flourishing and changing children’s lives. The five pictures in this report were taken in the past weeks by two volunteers from France, Gwen Gueguen and Michael Gobert. They represent well five core programs for the children:
- Sports, giving hundreds of boys an opportunity for a break from their daily hours of begging, to simply play and be children.
- Providing nutritious food, allowing the talibés to take time from their usual begging for this food, and to participate in literacy and arts classes, sports, gardening and other Maison de la Gare programs.
- Arts activities and excursions, an enormous enrichment for a life of begging and abuse.
- Health care and hygiene instruction, both in the infirmary in Maison de la Gare’s centre and in the daaras where the children live.
- Working in the productive garden in Maison de la Gare’s centre, and selling its produce in the market.
TODAY is a perfect opportunity to renew your commitment to Maison de la Gare, and support the continuation of this incredibly valuable work.
Today only, Wednesday, March 13th starting at 9:00 a.m. E.D.T., GlobalGiving will add 30% to your donation, until the available funds run out.
Please, seize this opportunity. Thank you.
A 16-year-old Canadian high school student from Montreal, Ann Pille, spent a week with Maison de la Gare in September of 2012 with her aunt Karen Hornby, a registered nurse. Ann has prepared a moving report on her experiences, her understanding of the situation of the talibé street children of Senegal, and Maison de la Gare's work to improve their lives. Her full report is attached. Here are three excepts:
Maison de la Gare: A Ray of Hope - "Maison de La Gare is a non-profit organization, a political and secular, founded in 2007 by ten Senegalese to help the talibés of St-Louis. They provide medical care, food, education, clothes, emotional help, lessons on hygiene, access to showers and hope to the boys living in this terrible situation. They help boys who have run away return to their families and investigate claims of child abuse. The most important thing that they do is provide a safe place for the talibés to come and just be kids for a while. They give them hope for a better future where their life is not spent begging for the person who is supposed to protect them."
A Story of Hope - "Now I have a message to pass on. It is a message from one of the marabouts that we met. It is a message of good will. Not all marabouts are the same, however they get painted with the same brush. This particular marabout did not choose this profession to make money. It was handed down to him by his father. He does not make his boys beg for money and he does not beat them. In fact, all he asks that they do is go to their “maraines” houses to get the food that they leave out. He is always calm and willing to ask for help in order to improve the boys’ lives. He is letting his boys be enrolled in school and has taught them about the importance of good hygiene. He is really doing his best considering the situation. He has said that if the government were able to give him enough money to move all of the boys, then he would go back to the country. This would mean that the boys would be able to live with their families and only come to him for classes. I think that this message is important because it shows that in some cases the marabouts are also victims of the system."
Something Truly Amazing - "There is one thing that I noticed on this trip that will stick with me, no matter where I go. This thing is the amazing spirit of the boys. They live in a situation that we cannot even imagine. Every day they face beatings, lack of food, injuries and diseases. In this situation many of us would give up hope, but they are the complete opposite of hopeless. They are filled with curiosity and a genuine willingness to learn. They are incredibly smart and creative. They find a way to be happy, which I found incredible considering that those of us who are fortunate enough to live in industrialized countries are so unhappy with everything. These boys gave me a gift, even if they didn’t know it. I went to Senegal with the goal of discovering how I could help them, but I think that they helped me more then I was able to help them. They showed me that if they can be happy with so little, than I should be happy with everything I have. They showed me that it’s not what you have that makes you happy but rather who you’re with and your attitude towards the world. I will always be thankful for that. This experience has definitely changed for the better the way that I look at my life."
Maison de la Gare is delighted to announce that a new member has joined its project team in Saint Louis, Mapaté Bousso. As Maison de la Gare has grown, so has the urgent need for a member of the team to take charge of the myriad administrative details that need attention every day.
Mapaté holds a Master’s degree in Commerce and International Business Management from the Faculty of Economic Science and Management of Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar. He takes his new role with Maison de la Gare very much to heart. In his words in his letter of motivation:
“I am deeply moved by what I have read and seen of Maison de la Gare’s work, and feel very proud of how you have struggled on behalf of these children. I agree with you on the question of talibé begging. It is a public calamity which corrodes Senegalese society at its core. All human beings must struggle for its eradication, whatever their social class, race or religion. Aren’t these individuals born free and equal? It would be a grave injustice – even a crime – to not take action in the face of the intolerable situation of the talibés. These children, left to themselves and deprived of their most fundamental rights (food, clothing, medical care, education and happiness), deserve our full attention. Wouldn’t it be a happy thing to fan the flame of hope that has been extinguished in them since they were labelled ‘talibés’? Thus, I can only embark with great enthusiasm on such a noble mission.”
Mapaté is assuming responsibility for all administrative and financial aspects of Maison de la Gare’s operations, working closely with Issa Kouyaté and other members of the team. He will administer Maison de la Gare’s web site (www.mdgsl.com), set up and maintain records of the talibé children participating in the association’s various programs, prepare monthly reports following the development of Maison de la Gare and of the children whom it serves and, with Issa, take charge of financial reporting and financing efforts.
A very warm welcome to our team, Mapaté. We are counting on you!!
Sports are pretty well the most popular activity for talibé children, contributing to both their physical and emotional development. They also support development of bonds of comradeship with other talibés and provide them with rare and precious moments of relaxation.
For these reasons, Maison de la Gare organizes soccer tournaments each week on Thursday and Friday for talibé children from the different daaras that it works with. Besides being valued very highly by the children, these tournaments serve to reinforce their linkages with the Maison de la Gare’s centre and its other programs.
In this tradition, Maison de la Gare organized a tournament on Thursday, November 22nd and Friday the 23rd. The showdown took place in the mythical Wembley stadium located in the Diawlingua area of Sor in Saint Louis. Six daaras participated: Daara Serigne Diamanka, Daara Serigne Arona Kandé, Daara Serigne Arona Baldé, Daara Serigne Ousmane Sow, Daara Serigne Mansour Baldé and Daara Serigne Mamadou Baldé. In total, close to two hundred talibé children were involved, divided into twelve teams with each of them representing a daara.
The teams competed in two categories:
- The junior category for younger ages, typically 10 to 14, representing six daaras in Balacoss, Diawlingua and Darou. After the elimination rounds, the daaras of Serigne Ousmane Sow (Diawlingua) and Serigne Mansour Baldé (Balacoss) qualified for the final. Serigne Ousmane Sow was victorious, winning by a score of 5 to 4 in a final shoot-out.
- In the senior category, typically 15 years and older, six daaras again competed. Only Serigne Ousmane Sow (Diawlingua) and Serigne Arona Baldé (Balacoss) reached the finals. It was again Serigne Ousmane Sow that took the championship, by a score of 2 to 0.
Each of the finalist teams was recognized with a small prize, to help them meet their obligations to their daaras for the day and also to reinforce their enormous sense of satisfaction in enjoying their favorite sport.
Maison de la Gare is working to establish more and more activities of this sort to occupy the talibé children so that they have less time and incentive to return to the streets.
A grade 9 student volunteer has been successful in establishing one-on-one e-mail linkages between talibé children involved in Maison de la Gare’s programs and students in her high school, Ashbury College in Ottawa, Canada.
The student, Rowan Hughes, guided 12 talibé boys and their teachers in each establishing a personal gmail account, and then helped them to compose and send their first ever emails to their correspondents in Canada - also students of French as a second language - and to their teachers who were waiting to receive these messages and reply in kind. The email exchanges were followed up with a Facebook video chat, in which the pairs of correspondents were able to introduce themselves to one another in person. The younger class of talibé students was also invited to Skype video chat with a class of students of similar ages from Manor Park Public School in Ottawa.
All of the talibés who participated in these exchanges were astonished and very excited to be able to see and speak with students in Canada who were clearly interested in getting to know them. As the conversations progressed, the confidence of the talibés soared. A Canadian student asked his talibé friend if he understood English. The talibé replied, with a brilliant smile and a laugh, “No. Do you understand Wolof?” And, a sense of happiness and wonder spread among the Maison de la Gare boys as it became apparent that they had interests in common with their new Canadian friends, and that both groups of students were similarly challenged and yet undaunted by learning the French language.
The exchanges were a great success. The experience was all the Maison de la Gare boys talked about afterward. Being involved in such a way with Canadian students via computer captured their interest and instilled a sense of pride and awe. As word about the computer exchanges spreads among the talibés, more are becoming keen to visit the centre regularly to attend classes and eventually advance to become “email talibés” as well. Email exchanges among the talibés and Canadian students will continue, opening a window on a much wider world to the talibé and Canadian students alike, and enriching the lives of all involved.
* The title of this report is taken from a comment by a visitor to Maison de la Gare’s Facebook page, commenting on a photo and description of this initiative: “Un petit pas pour la technologie, un bond de géant pour les talibés”, an allusion to Neil Armstrong’s words as he took his first steps on the moon.
Maison de la Gare has received donations totalling more than $8,000 (or £5,000) from over 180 donors since joining GlobalGiving and GlobalGiving UK in the spring of this year (2012). A very gratifying recent spurt of donations from the UK in response to Janek Seevaratnam’s sacrifice of his magnificent and much-admired dreadlocks has brought total givings close to our current objective of $10,000 (£6,375). This has stimulated us to reevaluate our suggested donation amounts and the overall financial objective.
Our many donors have responded generously to some proposed contributions, and less to others. Our redesigned donation suggestions reflect this, while at the same time representing five of Maison de la Gare’s major strategic thrusts. The five proposed donations are:
- Nutritious baguettes for talibé students, an essential requirement to make it possible for children to be able to attend classes or sporting and other activities for a few hours instead of begging for their food on the street.
- Clothing, including a shirt, shorts and simple shoes, to replace or upgrade the single outfit of heavily worn clothes that each boy has.
- Medical care for malaria, skin diseases, eye infections and much more, from which so many talibé children suffer. This includes resources for supply of mosquito nets, compresses, bandages, cotton, alcohol, betadine soap, sutures and much more.
- Funding of soccer tournaments for up to 200 talibé boys, a unique opportunity to bring some fun and healthy physical activity to their very difficult lives. The funds cover the costs of water, photos and prizes.
- Registration of talibé children in formal schooling, including the cost of school fees, notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, books and school bags.
Your donations through GlobalGiving are making a very important contribution to financing Maison de la Gare’s activities. However, the project is on-going, and we will have to increase the financial objective from time to time as donations are received. At this time, we are increasing our objective to a total of $12,500 or approximately £7,900.
We are enormously grateful for your generous response to this opportunity to make life better for the talibé street children, and hope that we can count on your continued support.
Over the past few weeks, Janek Seevaratnam in England has obtained 66 donations to Maison de la Gare through GlobalGiving, with a moving personal sacrifice. Donations totaled £1,021 plus $138 US. The donations were
designated for nutritious baguettes for talibé students (15x), for registration and support of talibé students in formal schooling (4x), for monthly soccer tournaments (5x), for emergency hospitalization (1x), for a djembe drum for the music program (1x), and for general program needs (39x).
This is the Janek’s account of the story behind this amazing initiative: “I first met Issa Kouyate in 2006. He was working in Saint Louis, Senegal for a UK company that sent volunteers around to work at various work placements. Issa was the lifeblood of the project but was not satisfied that he was doing enough, and he told me about his dream of opening a centre for the talibés. I stayed in touch with Issa and met him again in Senegal in 2007 when he had just set up Maison de la Gare. During my second year of university, I began to raise some funds for the project by making t-shirts and putting on events, and I visited Maison de la Gare properly in 2008.
Towards the end of 2008, I became involved with a social project in Peru and spent a cumulative 18 months working there. Issa was a friend but also a role model for me in his selfless attitude, tireless determination and huge heart, and I often thought of him and Maison de la Gare. I arranged with Issa for a couple of my friends to do some volunteer work with him, and I was encouraged by the progress the project was making. After returning to the UK I was keen to raise some more funds. The right opportunity never came along until I was talking to my brother about finally cutting my hair, and he suggested that, if I did it, I should raise some funds at the same time.
'Janek's Haircut.' seemed like a fun and simple enough idea, and I expected that people would like to be a part of it. I think that people initially showed an interest because I've had dreads (or have been growing my hair for dreads!) for the last six years - longer than I have known some of them! My first volunteering experience was in Senegal, and I have been doing volunteer work for the seven years that followed. I have met a lot of like-minded people who are interested in community work and specifically working with youth and children, so I suppose I had a strong network for the haircut stunt. However, all kinds of people from outside my 'not-for-profit sector network' have donated and have really shown passion for the cause. Though I thought people would be interested in the event, I could have never expected the level of generosity that donors have shown. I've been really touched by who has given and what they have given - not only people with huge hearts making huge donations, but others who don't earn a lot of money or are students but still give the most they can afford. Whatever their reasons for donating, the feedback is always the same - that it is for an excellent cause.
Whether you cut your dreads, make t-shirts or free fall from space for Maison de la Gare, people will always be happy to give because of the great work it does, and they know that a dedicated team is giving their all to enrich the difficult lives of these young boys.”
Issa Kouyate and Karen Hornby BScN, MSc
Circumcision of boys in Senegal is culturally sensitive and potentially a serious health issue. Circumcision is seen as a rite of passage from one stage of life to another more important one. In Muslim West Africa, it is essential that the procedure be performed before adulthood, and it is absolutely required before marriage. Maison de la Gare does what it can to support the children that it serves in this process, while respecting the traditions that surround it.
When families have the necessary means, boys are usually circumcised at birth in the hospital. For other boys, their opportunities to become circumcised are limited and not particularly safe. Many boys, particularly older ones, get enormously disabling infections due to this procedure, a consequence of the unsterile environment in which the procedure is carried out and where they have to recover.
This September, Maison de la Gare selected 30 boys to undergo the procedure and to recover safely from it in the MDG centre in Saint Louis. The boys ranged in age from 4 to 17 years old. A local doctor volunteered to do the procedures, and then followed the boys’ healing over the following week. Canadian nurse Karen Hornby supported by volunteer Ann Pille managed their pain during this week, with the help of Tylenol and some antibiotics provide by Health Partners International of Canada. They found it enormously satisfying to be able to support the boys through such a critical time in their lives.
Karen Hornby, BScN, MSc
One of the most troubling experiences during my short stay in Saint Louis working with Maison de la Gare was going on a “night run”. This consists of going out in the middle of the night (usually between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m.) and searching the streets for runaway talibé children. On our fourth night in St Louis we joined Issa Kouyaté at midnight and followed him to locations around the city where runaway talibés “hide”. Issa explained that when talibés run away from their daaras – usually due to being abused - they do not hide in dark, empty corners of the streets as this would put them at risk for further abuse or worse. They generally can be found trying to sleep out in the open, often in areas close to where other people circulate during the night.
Of the talibés we saw, we had time to speak with four boys (the youngest looked about four years old and the oldest was 14). It was surreal. We found these boys trying to sleep in front of a closed market stall, with a security guard sitting nearby. Issa woke the boys and talked to them one by one, trying to piece together their stories. The oldest boy did not say much, except that he was from the Gambia! The other three boys told Issa their names, which daaras they were from and why they had run away. Issa explained to them that we could help them go home or back to their daaras and arranged to meet them the next day.
Issa walked us back to the hotel and I couldn’t stop thinking of these poor boys, particularly the older one who did not want to talk. I found out the next day, that the older boy had followed us back to the hotel and then followed Issa back to his house without any of us noticing. He waited outside Issa’s house for about an hour and then knocked on the door. Having now established that we were “the real thing,” he shared his story with Issa. Issa has since reported that this older boy has been welcomed home by his family in Gambia, where they are now trying to find a satisfying occupation for him so that he will stay.
Caring for such children is part of how donations to Maison de la Gare are used - paying to return runaway talibé boys home. There is even a follow-up with boys once they are returned home to be sure they remain safe and well treated.
That night still haunts me and I can’t help thinking of all of the other runaway talibés out there waiting for someone they can trust to tell their story to and maybe help them get back home.
Karen Hornby, BScN, MSc
Every Thanksgiving I have struggled with how to give thanks for all the wonderful things I have been lucky enough to enjoy in my life - my family, my friends, my health, my work and yes, my wealth. This year is different. I have found a way to give back that is meaningful to me. My 16 year old niece and I volunteered at Maison de la Gare working with the talibés of St Louis, Senegal.
Our main objective was to bring medical supplies and to help provide health-care to these boys. We thought this would be a story about hope and despair, health and disease, greed and generosity. We have learned that it is more complicated than that. Because it is hard and complicated, many give up without really trying, some give up after trying, and some never give up trying. We have just started trying to do something about it and we hope to be one of those who never give up trying.
This was an amazing and difficult voyage for the both of us, yet the only time I cried during our visit was the day we had to leave.
For those of you struggling to find a way to give thanks, I encourage you to support Maison de la Gare. If helping the talibés touches you like it has touched us, please consider making a generous donation to Maison de la Gare. It will make the world of difference for these boys.
This summer, a former volunteer at Maison de la Gare made an extraordinary contribution. This is her story:
“I and three friends set off on the ‘3 peaks challenge’ to raise money for Maison de la Gare. The 3 peaks challenge involves climbing the 3 tallest mountains in England, Wales and Scotland all in under 24 hours (Snowdon in Wales at 1085m, Scafell Pike in England at 978m, and Ben Nevis in Scotland at 1344m). I am happy to say we completed this in 22 hours and 17 minutes!
It involved walking up some incredibly steep mountains in 28 degree heat (82F - the weekend we chose ended up being a heat wave in the UK), and then climbing up one of the mountains in the dark through the night which was a real challenge as it was very rocky following uneven paths.
Once we completed the challenge we had a long drive home and were so stiff we couldn't walk up any stairs for at least 3 days. I am happy to say that due to the generosity and support of our friends and family we raised £1,400 ($2,300 U.S.) for Maison de la Gare. Hopefully this will help in a small way in the running of the centre and help all the volunteers to realise that people are thinking of them and their good work all the way over here in the UK.”
A wide variety of medicinal and other plants is cultivated in Maison de la Gare’s centre in Saint Louis. We are posting this update to our recent report in order to share with you the incredible growth of our garden over the past few months. Papaya, Moringa, mint, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, lemon grass, sorrel, grapes, dates and bananas … every one plays an important role in supporting Maison de la Gare’s efforts to improve the lives of the talibé children that it serves.
The garden provides nutritional support for the children involved in the centre’s programs. It also gives them the opportunity to learn valuable gardening and entrepreneurial skills, and they are responding to this enthusiastically. The centre is flexible in allowing each child to participate in the way that suits him best, learning skills and gaining confidence that will serve well in the future.
This garden has been made possible by the generous donations of our international supporters, and we are grateful. It contributes dramatically to the warm and welcoming environment that the centre provides for the talibé children, an island of calm and hope in their otherwise chaotic and challenging lives. We welcome any suggestions and technical advice to help us in improving this valuable aspect of our centre.
July 2012: The garden in Maison de la Gare’s Saint Louis centre has made enormous strides since it was renewed in April.
The garden is very popular with the Talibé children who, with the help of team member Aladji Gaye, are doing work that would make a professional horticulturalist proud!
Thus, it is with great pride that the Maison de la Gare team, and in particular Aladji who is responsible for the garden, make ready for the first harvest.
The garden has a great variety of plants, with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, peppers (green and red), and a number of other vegetables.
The purpose of this gardening activity is nothing less than a way of combating the begging of the Talibé children.
Produce from the garden will serve to feed the children, but also to support them in developing skills that will help them to become financially self-sufficient in the future.
Congratulations to Aladji and his team for the amazing work that they have accomplished.
Maison de la Gare joined GlobalGiving at the beginning of April 2012 during the Open Challenge. At the time, we set a financial objective for the campaign of $6,000.
Your generous support has been overwhelming. As of today, 96 donations have been received on GlobalGiving.org and GlobalGiving.co.uk, totaling $5,994!! Everyone working with Maison de la Gare is thrilled and grateful for this support.
This is an on-going project. Your donations on GlobalGiving will make an enormous contribution towards sustaining Maison de la Gare over the coming months and years. To reflect this in our objective on GlobalGiving, we have now reset the financial target for the project, increasing it from $6,000 to $10,000.
Thank you for your commitment to improving the lives of the talibé children, and for your faithful support.
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.
Baye Abdou Faye
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.
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.