On April 27th, the Federation of Associations of Ndéyous Daaras in Thiès, Senegal committed to building 12 new kitchens called ‘wagnou daaras’ (daara kitchens) in Koranic schools at a celebration event in honor of the National Day for Talibé the previous week.

The Federation of Associations of Ndéyous Daaras was formed by a group of Ndéyous Daaras, or volunteer caretakers for talibés, from 12 Koranic schools who participated in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) until 2003. They led initiatives to protect children as coordinators of their Community Management Committees (CMCs) and later federated to continue their work.

The Federation of Associations of Ndéyous Daaras developed the concept of ‘wagnou daaras’ which is to provide daily meals for talibés to reduce forced child begging. For the experimental phase, 12 Koranic schools, or daaras, were selected based on the following criteria: a daara must have at least 50 talibés, the marabout (religious teacher) must be a part of the movement for the modernization of daaras, and the CMC must be committed to monitoring activities taking place in the daara.

In attendance at the event were talibés, Ndéyous Daaras, partners, philanthropists, marabouts, and CMC members. During the event, the Ndéyous Daaras were presented with cookware and food commodities by philanthropists to allow them to start their activities.

Adja Arame Seck, a member of the federation, spoke about the importance of improving the livelihoods of talibés as part of the project of daara modernization and how days such as the National Day for Talibé help to raise awareness about improving talibés’ living conditions.

The day ended in a great mood with an appeal to advocate at higher levels for the implementation of this plan for daara kitchens and to further improve conditions for talibé.