Changing mindsets to eradicate child begging in Senegal through leadership training

22-10-2020

DAKAR   Thousands of children in many Senegalese religious boarding schools live in conditions of extreme squalor, face physical abuse, and are deprived of adequate food and medical care. Known as talibés, instead of learning the Quran, they are forced to beg on the streets for hours.  

Low income earning parents often send their children to these school in the belief they’ll get a good education. However, the sight of young boys begging at traffic lights remains common in Senegal.  

The UNODC TIPSOM programme recently held a  Leadership and Behavior Change training workshop in Dakar with 16 Ndeyou Daara - women working to protect talibés children attending such schools, from 12 to 14th October.

The activity is part of the project to combat forced begging implemented by UNODC with four municipalities in Dakar (Pikine Nord, Diameguene-Sicap Mbao, Medina and Gueule Tapée Fass Colobane) funded by USAID.

  
Volunteer social workers known as Ndeyou Daraas working on the eradication of child begging during the workshop

Anna, a Ndeyrou Daraa from the neighbourhood of Ngor said: “This training will not only help me find resources to deal with obstacles in the field as far as child begging is concerned but it will also help me deal with family and personal problems.”

The objective of the workshop is to strengthen the capacities of the women working on the frontlines and arm them with tools and techniques to help them garner support from the community to put an end to child begging. 

Their biggest challenge remains pushing for a change in social norms within their communities. 

“The social norms are related to the acceptance of child begging as a long-standing practice. The training aims to equip them with the means to convince other members of the community to turn their backs on these harmful practices and to commit to respecting the fundamental rights of children,” said Issa Saka, TIPSOM project officer at UNODC. 

UNODC organised a Leadership and Behavior Change training workshop in Dakar 

Another Ndeyrou Daraa taking part, Safietou Gueye, from Mermoz-Sacré Coeur said, “This training is so important that it should be extended to our Mayors and Political leaders as most of the problems we meet on the grounds are related to lack of leaders and leadership capacities.”

The women's activities include monitoring the hygiene of the boarding schools, and the health, nutrition and education the children receive.  The Ndeyrou Daraa’s organise lessons so the boys are able to follow an education rather than forced to beg on the street.

For more information:

Homeless shelter for children doubles capacity due to COVID-19 in Senegal, recipient of UNODC aid