News from Maison de la Gare

Christmas Magic for the Talibé Children

A thousand smiles for Santa Claus

Under the bright winter sunshine of Saint-Louis, Maison de la Gare and its partners created a symphony of joy and generosity at this year’s Talibé Christmas celebration. This exceptional day brought together more than a thousand talibé children in a festive atmosphere, with games, shows and an unprecedented spirit of solidarity.

The magic of preparation - On the eve of the event, a team of volunteers and dedicated Maison de la Gare staff transformed the center into a winter wonderland. Shimmering garlands and magical light displays adorned every nook and cranny, instilling a warm Christmas spirit. Every gesture, every detail of the decor was lovingly thought out, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the cause and the celebration of generosity.

The dawn of a memorable day – By mid-morning, talibés from all corners of Saint-Louis were streaming in to take part in the special event, a highlight of their difficult lives. With the invaluable help of members of the Saint-Louis Scout troop, volunteers and Maison de la Gare staff, the children were registered as they arrived and organized to participate in the games.

A fun-filled morning - The morning unfolded with a symphony of carefully planned games. The sack race sparked infectious laughter from the participants and everyone watching. The penalty shoot-out triggered friendly competition. A competition filling water bottles was drowned in outbursts of laughter. Another game in which blindfolded children attempted to find and cut free prizes hanging on strings added suspense and excitement. The sparkling looks on the children's faces testified to their unreserved joy.

From fun to education - After three hours of lively play, the atmosphere became more serious. Maison de la Gare’s Noël Coly took the stage, and the children gave him their full attention. Noël talked about their activities at the center, emphasizing responsible behavior and urging them to avoid anything that might harm them or damage the center's equipment. He also encouraged them to avoid dangerous acts in the street. It was a valuable lesson, one that transcended the festive celebration to touch the heart of Maison de la Gare's mission.

A symphony of enchantment – In the afternoon, vibrant melodies from an enchanting symphony filled the center, courtesy of the Bibaline Family group. They drew the children into spontaneous dancing, creating a joyous and unforgettable atmosphere. The “faux lions” (false lions) then made their entrance, a much-loved Senegalese cultural tradition. They captivated the audience with graceful movements and lively tam-tam rhythms. It was an extraordinary show that transported the talibés into a fairytale world, far removed from the difficult realities of their daily lives.

The magic of Santa Claus - The highlight of the day was the metamorphosis of Maison de la Gare's president, Issa Kouyaté, into a benevolent Santa Claus. With high-spirited dance steps, he distributed smiles and gifts, prompting bursts of laughter and looks of wonder from the talibé children. Every child received a gift of soccer jerseys in the colors of their favorite teams, a highlight of an already unforgettable day. And just as magical for these children who must normally feed themselves by begging, there was food for everyone.

A moment of happiness and hope - This Talibé Christmas will be remembered as a shining example of the power of solidarity and the ability to create magical moments, even in the most modest of circumstances. Maison de la Gare, with its partners and dedicated staff, continues to write new chapters of happiness for talibé children, offering a beacon of hope in their lives.

We are grateful to Élodie Demontoux and Association Lëkkalé for their central rôle in making this magical day possible. Their generous donors in France covered most of the cost, and they worked with us for weeks in Senegal planning the event and contributing on the day to its success.