Debout Pour les Enfants (DPE) was founded in January 2018 by Saliou Sagna, Ziguinchor, Senegal and Kristina Lotén, Nacka, Sweden.
The organisation in Sweden is run as a non-profit organisation named DEBOUT POUR LES ENFANTS SÉNÉGAL and is purely concerned with raising funds for the aktivities in Ziguinchor. The Board consists of Kristina Lotén (Chair), Anders Lindegren and Pelle Lotén; the Auditor is Chri Rammer. All of them working voluntarily.
The charity registration number is 802514-2467.
The sister organisation in Senegal called DEBOUT POUR LES ENFANTS, led by Saliou Sagna, is running a centre in Ziguinchor and is receiver of the collected funds. The organisation is registered in Ziguinchor and has obtained all the necessary certificates. Co-workers to the l’Inspecteur de la Jeunesse in Ziguinchor are members of the Board. L’Inspecteur de la Jeunesse , Jean Louis Dacosta, is fully supportive.
In Spring 2015, I, Kristina Lotén, made a holiday trip to Senegal. A terrific journey full of experiences which awakened my interest for the country and its people. So a desire to find a work with some kind of relief organisation arouse.
The same autumn I went back to Senegal to work with an English organisation and to work with the talibés, the street children. I stayed with a lovely Senegalese family in Saint-Louis and worked in a centre run by this organisation. In 2016 I went back there for three months. It was a fantastic experience and I came away thinking that I could be in further help.
Living with a family like that is an excellent way of getting to know the culture.
Then in Autumn 2017 I went to Ziguinchor for six weeks to work with young adults. During this time I realized that there was nothing for the talibés in Ziguinchor like the centre in Saint-Louis. So together with Saliou Sagna, who lives there and is a qualified teacher, I decided to found an organisation to run a similar centre.
We opened our centre in May 2018 and have 30-50 visiting children every day, sometimes more. Here they can play like normal kids, draw, read books and play football. They have the opportunity to learn French and English. They can have a shower and brush their teeth (all of them have a toothbrush with their name on it). We also have a clinic where we take care of their wounds.
The street children in Senegal are called talibés which means disciples. They have been relayed by their parents, sometimes already at the age of four, to the Koran schools operated by Marabous. The intention is that the boys will learn the Quran beyond which may take up to ten years. Many of the children do not meet their families throughout that time. Most of the day, they spend on the streets to beg for food and money for the Marabou. The children are dirty with broken clothes and usually without shoes.
Daaras is the name of a Koran school. Many are located in places that we would consider to be dumped. The talibés are sleeping on plastic mats lying directly on the dirty floor. Here they also spend the time for their studies with the Marabou. Access to the toilet is of course, but not a lot of hygiene.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and what we want to achieve
Senegal has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The talibés is a problem that has been noted in recent years but changes are delaying.
In the center we have in Ziguinchor we want to give the children, primarily the talibés, an opportunity to be ordinary children playing, playing soccer, drawing and reading books. We want to teach French, which is the official language of Senegal, and also English. When the children grow older they realize that they need to learn something more than the Quran and they are very motivated for study.