Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hi all--

I want to tell you about the talibe boys here in Senegal. Some of you have already had the talibe system explained to you so this is just a reminder or this could be new information to some of you.
Translated, talibe means student. We are more familiar with the word Taliban which also uses the same root word. The talibe boys are common throughout West Africa, but especially in Senegal.
Dakar is considered the begging capital of the world; giving alms is one of the five pillars of Islam. As a result, marabouts and talibe boys have been moving to Dakar from all over West Africa. They squat in vacant, unfinished buildings, or construct shacks on vacant land. Most of the “homes” have no running water or sanitation facilities. In contrast, the marabout may live in a nicer home with his family.
The boys are between the ages of five and fifteen. Families give their young boys to a marabout, an Islamic religious leader and teacher. This is impossible for us to comprehend, except for the fact that many of the families are too poor to care for, let alone provide an education for the boys. The marabout is supposed to raise and train the boys in koranic education, providing a free education for them. In reality the boys become child slaves. They must beg for him and are often beaten and mistreated if they do not bring in enough money each day. I should point out that not all of the marabouts mistreat the boys, but many do, and the system itself is open to many abuses.
You see talibe boys everywhere in Dakar. They are there when you step out of the terminal at the airport and they are seemingly walking every street begging. They go out early in the morning and often stay on the streets until late at night. They carry empty tomato cans where passersby place their alms. They are barefoot and dressed in rags. Many are sick with malaria or other diseases, and nearly all are underfed. The younger, smaller boys are often bullied by the older, bigger boys who steal the money they have collected.
A marabout may have as many as 40 talibe boys. Some of the marabouts do not feed the boys, so they must get their food by begging. In general, the boys are required to give the marabout a certain amount of money each day. If they earn more, some marabouts allow them to send the extra to their families.
Even the noble gesture of giving the boys food is problematic. If you give them food, they will often sell it to meet their quota. It is possible to give them something like a peeled banana that cannot be sold and must be eaten.
I have been working at a center in a very poor area of Dakar which is run by a WorldVenture colleague of mine that provides food and care to these boys. The boys come mornings Monday through Friday and receive food, showers, French lessons, first aid care, clean clothes, flip-flops, water to drink, etc. The center started out with about 16 boys coming and now we average from 45 to 50 boys daily.
This last week the center, Xaley Boroom Bi (Children of the Lord Center), celebrated being open for one year. When we were home this last summer one of our donors gave us some money and asked us to buy ice cream for the boys. So at our party, we had cake, ice cream, games, and a program by a Christian singer who is well known here in Senegal. The boys were so excited to have a party and we are praising God for the blessings that have been mine to work with these boys this last year and show them God’s love.
A sad note regarding one of the boys. One of the regular talibe boys may have run away from his daara (the marabout’s home where they live) two weeks ago and has not been seen since. He was asking how to get to his village and how much it would cost him, so they are assuming he was trying to get back home. We are concerned for his safety as it is not safe here especially at night. There is also the possibility that he could have been kidnapped as that has been happening here recently. He is only 8 years old at the most and a very sweet, softhearted boy. His name is Ousman(oos-mon). Ousman has been with us at the center from the beginning so he has probably been gone from his family for 3 or more years. The last day he was with us at the center he saw the Jesus film in Wolof. Please pray for his safety.

If you are interested in giving to help the talibe boys, our mission has a special project that was set up to help with the daily costs of running the center and buying food and clothing for them. You can send a check to the address below with an attached written note indicating - for Talibe Street Kids – SP#6403-931. See the address below.

Some have been asking us about little girls here in Senegal; what happens to them and if they have to beg, etc. Basically, the girls aren’t affected by this as they stay in the villages to help their mothers with the cooking and farming.

Thanks again for your prayer and financial support of our ministry here in Senegal.

Change the world, one life at a time,

Jim and Ramona Adams
Serving in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa
with WorldVenture

E-mail: Jim: (the 0 is a zero)
Skype: Jim: jim_adams_n0vpm
Ramona: ramonajoy

Internet Phone: (303)586-1757 – This is a Denver telephone number. (Remember that we are 7 hours ahead of Denver )

If you feel called to financially partner with us, you may send checks payable to WorldVenture, writing our name and the account number on an attached note – not on the check memo line. (i.e. Adams / #6154-963) Mail to WorldVenture, 1501 W. Mineral Ave., Littleton, CO 80120. You can also give donations or commitments online at For donations click on GIVE. All gifts are tax deductible.