News from Maison de la Gare

From the Streets to the Dojo

Amadou and Aliou’s stories show how karate opens positive horizons for begging talibé street children

The karate program at Maison de la Gare provides a vital lifeline for many begging talibé children in Saint Louis. These children typically have no access to education at home and are sent to daaras in the cities to learn the Quran. All too often, they are instead forced to beg on the streets for their food and for money for their marabout. It's a difficult and precarious life but, thanks to Maison de la Gare’s programs and caring staff, many of them have found a place where they can learn, play, and grow.

The karate program in Maison de la Gare’s center is run by Buaró, a black belt and former talibé who is now a staff member (discover his story on our website at “A Possible Dream”). Buaró sees his mission as helping the children through their difficult time as talibés and offering them a future that includes an alternative to begging. They are encouraged to pursue their dreams and learn new skills, while developing their self-confidence and ability to defend themselves.

Among the many children who frequent Maison de la Gare are Amadou and Aliou, who both regularly take part in the morning karate classes with Buaró. To understand the impact of Maison de la Gare on their lives, you need to know their stories.

Amadou was born into a poor family and was sent to a Quranic school in Saint Louis at the age of six. However, the “school” turned out to be a place where children are exploited and forced to beg in the streets for their marabout. For Amadou, life was difficult and living conditions were precarious.

Aliou, aged 12, was also sent to a daara in Saint Louis by his family in the hope that he would get a Quranic education. However, he soon discovered that life at the daara where he was sent to live was very different from what he had expected. He was forced to beg all day for food and money. He was often mistreated by the marabout and the grands talibés, the older children at his daara who often act as “enforcers” for the marabout. Aliou discovered the karate program by chance, hearing the sounds of children training. His curiosity led him to join the classes and, since then, he has become a regular participant. He says karate has taught him to focus and be disciplined. He is proud to show the skills he has learned to his friends and looks forward to someday being able to show them to his family.

Aliou explains that karate has helped him to be strong and to defend himself, but also to respect others and to be disciplined. Before karate he didn't have much hope for the future, but now he knows he can achieve great things. Similarly for Amadou, karate has changed his life by giving him a family at Maison de la Gare. He has friends who encourage him and teachers who push him forward. He wants to keep training hard and perhaps someday to become a karate teacher himself.

For Amadou and Aliou, the karate program is more than just a physical activity. It's a way to express themselves and build a strong identity while developing their self-confidence. Karate has given them the hope and strength they need to overcome the difficulties of their lives as begging talibés, and to pursue their dreams.

Aliou and Amadou's stories are examples of how Maison de la Gare’s karate program changes lives. While offering the children a healthy and productive oasis from forced begging, the program teaches them discipline, concentration, and self-confidence, skills invaluable both in the practice of karate and in their daily lives. While learning karate techniques, the children learn self-control, enabling them to manage their emotions and impulses in a positive, non-violent way.

Maison de la Gare is a safe haven where these children can train, learn, grow, and pursue their dreams as a family and a community, away from their lives as begging talibés. Thanks to your support, we can offer them hope for a future away from the streets and their difficult lives as begging talibés, while they develop new skills and build a strong identity.

Note: The 43 older talibé children who practice many times each week at the Sor-Karaté dojo are fully registered with the World Karate Federation, and they train under the supervision of Sensei Ignéty Bâ. The program for the younger talibés in Maison de la Gare’s center is also supervised by Sensei Bâ.