Saving Children in Senegal

We are proud to share that one of our partners Maison de la Gare (MDG) was recently featured in a CNN article. Founded by Local Hero Issa Kouyate, MDG is a non-profit organization that rescues children who are abused in the daara (religious education) system of Saint Louis, Senegal. These young children, called talibés, are sent to daaras to learn the Quran. Instead of learning their core subjects, boys are forced to beg in the streets to earn money for their teachers. Often, they are beaten when they don’t meet their daily quota.

Kouyate says there are 197 daaras in Saint Louis alone. He estimates there are about 15,000 children forced to beg in the city, but says it is impossible to know the exact number. Kouyate says he doesn’t think parents know the dire conditions their children are living in. Part of his work is trying to track down the families of these children, to let them know. He says, “This is one of my ideas, to help families to really understand, this is not learning Quran. This is just exploitation. It’s trafficking. It’s slavery.

“The families send the boys and forget them,” he says. “They forget.”

Kouyate started Maison de la Gare in 2007 by providing food and education to local talibés. From there, his organization grew and today hundreds of boys visit his facility every day to receive food and medicine. GO Campaign has partnered with MDG since 2014, and together we have made significant strides in creating opportunities for these children, allowing them to lead fulfilling, meaningful lives.

GO Campaign’s work with Maison de la Gare:

  • A grant in 2014 helped build the emergency shelter mentioned in the article, which offers safety and security to children who fled the daara,
  • In 2015 GO Campaign expended an agricultural apprenticeship that taught the talibé youth to care for a garden and sell their produce locally. The youth were given small stipends for their work, which for many of them was their first income.
  • A grant in 2018 built a school for sewing and tailoring vocational training, where the youth learn to make traditional clothing and colorful shopping bags. International volunteers and friends of MDG have even brought samples to shops in the U.S., Canada and Europe
  • In 2019, GO Campaign donors raised funds in a matter of days to keep MDG’s health clinic open and so they can continue providing care to over 500 street children per month
  • This year, a portion of ticket sales from the 2019 GO Gala went to sponsoring Boucabar, one of the youth in Saint Louis, who was a victim of the daaras and now, with the support of MDG, is pursuing his passion of kung fu.

It is because of Local Heroes like Issa that we are able to respond to the immediate needs of children without voices. It is because of our Local Heroes on the ground, all over the world that we can continue giving opportunities the the most vulnerable children. This is why we keep work. This is why we donate. THIS is why we GO.

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