The situation for street children or those at risk of going to the street in Senegal is desperate, as there is a significant lack of support structures offering shelter, medical care and counselling. Although it is difficult to know the exact number of street children, according recent UNICEF figures there are more than 1,000 children living on the streets of Dakar, the capital city. Street Child Africa is one of a very few British NGOs supporting work with vulnerable children in Senegal.
In Senegal it is important to make a distinction between street-connected children as defined for other countries and the specific phenomenon of talibe children. Talibe children are usually boys who have been sent by their parents to a Daara (free Koranic school) for their religious education. They often come from neighbouring countries like Guinea Bissau. At the Daara the Marabout teaches them the Koran, they receive a practical initiation into community life, and learn both humility and endurance. However, the conditions in which they live are precarious and many of them are forced to beg on the streets. Without their daily (financial) contribution to the Daara, they become easy victims of ill treatment, and often run away to the streets. It is these young children to whom Street Child Africa provides a life line.