What once had horrible distinction as the world’s busiest slave-trade embarkation hub, is now a growing capital city with progressive ambitions. Walking shoreline surrounding the peninsula that is Dakar, Senegal, one can sense hope in the air. Engulfed in sunshine and fresh ocean breeze this westernmost protrusion where Africa stretches into the Atlantic, serves as gateway to the continent. Beach pathways needle upward through limestone cliffs until reaching the contemporary concrete and asphalt of Dakar. Her people strive for a better future. They are friendly and hospitable having made the best of what Islam and French colonialism brought to them. Here you will find traditionally seasoned communal plates shared with fresh crusty baguette. Industry is helping Senegal experience the peace that many African nations find so elusive. But, there remain some sad undercurrents below the tide of hopeful progress. One ancient institution, in particular, has suffered a divergent tack. Over time, the practice of separating young boys from their families and into the care of Qur’anic boarding schools (aka Daaras) has become a heartbreaking legacy. The boys, known as Talibe’, are sent from distant villages and put under supervision for education and upbringing in the city. But, most are poorly treated and sent to the streets to beg.
· Street life plagues the Talibe’ boys with injuries, infection, and hunger
· Beatings and abuse are all too common when they do not return with expected money or foodstuffs
· Government efforts to address the dilemma are falling short
· Some minority Christian communities are attempting to improve living conditions for Talibe’ children near them
What One Person Can Do...
Out of their meager resources, one local Senegalese congregation invests in their community by extending love to the boys in their area. In partnership with an International agency, they open their courtyard each week providing a safe place for them to gather, let down their guard, play, and laugh with the staff. They provide laundry soap so the boys can wash and dry their clothing. They give them a hot meal and provide showers and basic hygiene essentials. They also treat minor wounds and illnesses and help get the boys to proper medical care as needed.
· Support the work of local outreaches by giving to NGOs that serve in Dakar
· Pray for people of faith in Dakar that are living radical lives of selflessness in a demanding environment
· Consider your community – who are the “Talibe’” among you? How might you engage?