What happens when the talibés turn 18?
Having received no other form of education, these talibés often cannot speak French – the country’s official language – and have no professional skills. Even basic numerical concepts like addition and subtraction need to be taught to them from scratch.
Most talibés become marabouts themselves, perpetuating this corrupt practice. Many others become homeless, unemployed, and often turn to crime.
How does Projects Abroad help?
Projects Abroad runs two main programmes in Senegal, which are aimed at assisting the talibés.
We have set up a Talibé Centre which offers a haven of rest to these children during the day, as well as a place where they can enjoy some aspects of the life of a child, and benefit from some basic education, hygiene and healthcare.
Volunteers teach the talibés some basic French, English and maths and, along with our nursing supervisor, tend to infected wounds and offer treatment for sick children. Talibés are able to have a shower, wash their clothes and brush their teeth at the centre. We also offer fruit juice and healthy, nutritious food for hundreds of talibés on a weekly basis.
Volunteers organise sports and leisure activities for the talibés who visit the centre, so that they have a chance to enjoy just being children, even if only for a little while. Beyond the centre, our volunteers also go to visit the daaras and help teach the children to clean, in order to maintain some basic sanitation levels, and tend to the wounds of those who weren’t able to come to the centre.
The motivation, ambition and sense of hope in each and every one of their eyes was magnificent, and every one of the talibés had thought of a sensible micro-finance venture, which were very viable on the whole. I distinctly remember one talibé coming into the office to have his interview with the biggest smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes, merely delighted at the opportunity he now has.”
Maximilian Wieland, the first Senegal Micro-finance volunteer
This project is specifically aimed at adult talibés. With no education and no experience, it is impossible for talibés to find employment or to receive loans after they leave the daaras. We are the only institution in St Louis to offer an interest-free loan to talibés, to help them move away from perpetuating the cycle of abuse and exploitation.
Before receiving the loan, beneficiaries are taught basic subjects such as French, English, Maths and Business that will enable them to set up a small business. Beneficiaries so far have been able to set up businesses such as fruit stands, fast food stands, small shops, and so forth. By word of mouth, they are able to draw in more talibés interested in receiving a loan. Projects Abroad continues to monitor the beneficiaries, guiding them in the running of their business and how to increase their profits.
The repayment rate for many people has so far been positive, and some beneficiaries are making profit from their businesses. Though on a small scale, this project will help empower these talibés as adults.
Our plan for the future is to capitalise on the hard work of our volunteers and local staff, ensuring that we continue to provide vital care, basic education and skills training to these vulnerable members of society. Using our Global Impact Database, we can constantly monitor our progress in achieving our placement goals, such as improved literacy and numeracy skills. For example, in the past year alone, volunteers have made a significant improvement in ensuring children have access to reading materials and take part in activities to improve their French and English language abilities.
Volunteers have an important role to play on these placements in Senegal. By helping to train entrepreneurs in basic numeracy and business skills, or providing medical treatment to the young talibés, each contribution helps to improve the living conditions and future prospects of these boys.