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Who are the talibé children of Saint Louis?

Census campaign led by Gwen Gueguen, volunteer from France

Maison de la Gare has undertaken a census of the talibé children of Saint Louis and its surrounding region. Contact is made with the marabout of each daara where the talibé children live, and a comprehensive list of the children is prepared. Then each child is questioned and photographed.

We have created a database containing all the information necessary for identification of the children: their name, year of birth (approximate because children do not usually know their age), village or region of origin, and their date of arrival in the daara. We also collect information about the marabout (name, identity card number, telephone number) and the daara (GPS coordinates).

All this information helps to:
- identify children who run away, and find them more easily thanks to their photograph.
- allow the talibés to have improved access to health care through reductions in hospital costs offered on presentation of census records created for each daara and validated by the social services of Saint Louis.
- identify the children coming to the center, to be able to better monitor each of them (frequency of participation, grade, class attendance, behavior, ... ).
- allow some children to be registered in formal government schooling.
- create a map of the Koranic schools (daaras) in Saint Louis.

As an example, we were able to trace the recent history of one little boy, Ibrahima Diallo, aged 6. He is from Guinea, and was sent away to Saint Louis by his family when he was only five years old. Ibrahima now lives in a daara where he studies the Koran. He spends a lot of time each day on the streets to beg for food and for money for his marabout. Every day Ibrahima comes to Maison de la Gare's centre. He works hard in class, knows his alphabet, can write a few syllables and can count. Most of the time, he has a smile on his lips!

Who are these children? They come from daaras around Saint Louis. They come to Maison de la Gare's center to regain their sense of childhood. In general, their origins and their families are far, far away .

This is why Maison de la Gare works to learn about the children's origins, and to help the children themselves to understand so that they can keep alive the dream of one day returning home and reuniting with their families. It is vital that every talibé child feel completely at home in the centre, to learn and enjoy reading, writing, creative activities, gardening and even playing sports or going on excursions. We encourage the children by posting their photos and identity information in the centre, and letting them post it in their daaras where they live, so that they can themselves follow their development.

We strive at Maison de la Gare to open places for all of these talibé children in our lives, by accommodating and welcoming them as our own children and brothers.

You would like to support our efforts? Please click here: