My Family

My Family

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Talibe Center

On Friday we headed to the Talibe Center.  We were given a briefing the night before about what all this place is about from Ms. Jane, the lady in charge.  The Talibe Center is a small area beside a church that a couple of ladies volunteer in to help talibe boys out each day.

Here's a little about the talibe

What is a talibe?
Talibe is a word derived from Arabic that means disciple or follower.  In Senegal, talibe is the term used for a boy who is forced to bed on the streets as part of his Koranic education.

Where do the talibe children live?
Most live in a daara - a run down shack that doubles as a Koranic school and is shared with up to 25-30 other boys.  The daara is controlled by a marabout (teacher) who receives the cash collected by the boys.  Their humid, cramped, airless living quarters provide ripe conditions for the spread of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.  latrines and running water are non-existent.  The children rarely bathe.  They sleep, eat and work in the same clothes.  Some marabouts insist that children don't bathe or wash their clothes so people will pity them and give more.  They have no choice but to beg neighbors for dinner leftovers - often their first and only meal of the day.

How do children in Senegal become part of the talibe system?
Their parents - usually poor farmers - send their boys, ranging in age from 5 to 14, to the city to study Islam and memorize the Koran.  But the pupils actually spend little time studying and are forced by their marabout to beg on the streets for cash and food.  Many parents are not aware that their children are being exploited in the city.  In Senegal, the problem is particularly complex, entangled with religion, economics, politics, social values and ethnic traditions.

So after hearing all of this from Ms. Jane, we thought we might be ready for the next day.  However, nothing prepares you for what we saw.  Ms. Jane opens up the Talibe Center for the talibe boys to come in and take showers, wash their clothes, get a meal and get any medical treatment.  There were about 25 boys there during the hour we stayed.  While we were there we played Jengo, colored with the boys, passed out vitamins, helped make the food (which was like a porridge), or assisted with the medical help.

One of the neighborhood kids looking in

It's amazing how music brings people together.  Daniel was able to teach this boy a little about the guitar.

Devin was able to assist with the medical needs and this little boy broke my heart.  He was screaming due to an infection on his foot.

Passing out spoons.

Sitting around eating their food.

There was a little boy who came in with scabies and chicken pox as well as secondary infection.  It was so sad because even though they treated the disease because he would probably never get rid of it.  Since the boys live in such small quarters, they would just pass it back and forth to each other.  At that point I realized I took so much for granted with my boys and I need to be more thankful.

It was an interesting and eye opening experience.

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