News from Maison de la Gare
Precious moments of joy in the lives of the begging street children
Although they are Muslim, the Christmas celebration at Maison de la Gare
has always been a
highlight of the year for the begging talibé children.
Thanks to crowdfunding in France and to the incredible commitment of volunteers and staff, this year's event was a spectacular success. The talibés responded in large numbers to the invitation, and they left full of good memories and positive energy, especially happy to have received complete soccer outfits (jerseys and t-shirts) as gifts.
In the weeks leading up to the event, volunteers, staff, and older talibés all pitched in, with Élodie Demontoux and Boubacar Gano keeping everything on track. There were trips to the market, preparation of meals, and purchase of decorations and materials for the activities. German volunteer Katrin worked on the preparation of the welcome wall with its collaborative mural, displaying the values of the organization and the handprints of the children, all eager to be part of this creation. Abou Sy, Lalla Sène and Noël Coly organized the activities and Oumou Samb managed the food with her army of volunteer cooks.
On the morning of the event, a team of volunteers organized the games with the help of Maison de la Gare's staff … sack races, shot on goal, flag game, bottle in the ring and more.
Children were happy to participate, as shown by their smiles and their desire to take part in all the activities.
TV and other media were there to report on the event. Issa, Maison de la Gare’s founder and president, spoke of our commitment to the talibés and other vulnerable children. He stressed the need to continue support for the talibé children. Élodie praised the organization’s commitment to these children every day. Samba Diao spoke on behalf of the talibés, expressing how important this event was, and how important Maison de la Gare is to him and other talibés who are far from their homes and are given a chance to live in better conditions and to prepare for a brighter future.
At the end of the morning, some local actors came to perform a play about the abuse and the forced begging that the talibés endure, a play which helped the children give voice to what they live every day.
The afternoon began with the children gathered in a circle singing and dancing to the beat of the music. A dance contest followed, with the talibés in the middle of the circle dancing to the tom-toms and receiving sweets for their superb choreography.
Then, four “Lions” and a fire-eater appeared on-stage for a two-hour show, wearing colorful fabrics and beautifully made-up faces. They danced among the children who were amazed to see these artists up close. Admiration, curiosity, and joy lit up the faces of these boys whose eyes so often reflect the burdens of their difficult lives.
Next, Santa Claus took his place in the children’s hearts, offering them candy. This was Issa in disguise, totally committed to the children as always; none of them recognized him! Finally, this wonderful day concluded with a distribution of gifts and snacks.
The event was celebrated in the local media, reinforcing Maison de la Gare’s long struggle to improve the lives of these children. And the children will not forget the moments of pure happiness that they enjoyed on this extraordinary day.