News from Maison de la Gare
Coronavirus Leaves Begging Talibé Children without FoodTweeter
Confinement and curfew tragically complicate the lives of thousands of children. With no one on the streets, there is no one to beg from.
"The situation is explosive," says Issa Kouyaté.
In Saint Louis, you normally can not take a step without tripping over a child dressed in rags who asks for some coins for food. However, since the coming of Covid-19 everything has changed. The measures taken by the government to try to contain the spread of the virus and the fear that is beginning to spread among the population have resulted in people staying in their homes. Thousands of begging talibé children are left with no access to food. Some families in remote regions of the country demanded that their children be returned home. However, the government’s prohibition of travel between different regions of the country prevents this.
When this crisis first arrived in Senegal, Maison de la Gare responded quickly by closing its center and providing soap, disinfectant and hygiene instruction for the children in their daaras. We reported on this last month. However, we soon realized that this is not enough. The children have nothing to eat, and we have committed all our resources to feeding them.
We are now providing nutritious daily meals to over 1,500 talibé children each day in their daaras.
How is this possible? It is thanks to the brave and dedicated women of the Ndèye daaras, the “Godmothers” in each neighborhood of Saint Louis who have committed themselves to responding to the desperate situation of the talibé children. We are working with groups of these amazing women in each of ten neighborhoods of Saint Louis, including the north and south island, Pikine, Balacoss, Ndiolofène, Darou, Diamimar, Médina Course, Eaux claires and Léona.
In each of these neighborhoods, the women are cooking each day for the children of four to seven daaras located close to their base. Each of these daaras typically has 30 to 70 children, so many children are being reached. We provide funds at the beginning of each week so that the women can do the shopping. They are very effective at this, asking vendors in the market for their support for the needy children. Many respond generously, with the result that the funds go much further than they normally would.
The food is distributed to the children’s daaras in the large stainless-steel bowls that are very common for communal meals in Senegal.
With this program now underway, we have been able to give more attention to hygiene awareness for the children and everyone involved. The apprentices in the sewing program in our centre have been working long hours fabricating face masks; over a thousand of these have now been distributed.
We are deeply grateful to everyone who has responded to this situation with emergency support of our efforts. We received emergency grants from Global Fund for Children and from GO Campaign which will allow us to keep going for over five weeks. Many individual donors have also stepped forward to help us sustain the effort. And other organizations in Saint Louis and the city government are beginning to adopt this model in neighborhoods and daaras that we have not been able to reach.
Thank you, everyone. The struggle continues.