Feesabililla’s primary goal is to build a Quran school that will enable children from impoverished families to gain an education without being subjected to the exploitation and abuse so rampant in Senegal today.
Thousands of children in Senegal are sent away from their families and homes and into the care of so-called religious teachers in order to learn the Quran. Once in these shady and dubious institutions many are abused and forced to beg, often beaten if they don’t reach daily quotas. Under the guise of education, they become cash cows for the owners of these madrasas. Made to sleep in overcrowded, inadequate living conditions and deprived of the childhood they deserve.
“These children are in a system that benefits everyone but them…. The child works by begging for goods and for money, which will be given to his parents or taken by the Quranic teacher. And the child, 5 or 10 years later, hasn’t even finished learning the Quran…. If the country does not … care for these children and tackle the Quranic education problem once and for all, in 10 years we will have a huge problem on our hands, because we will have to deal with these children.”
– Senegalese Civil Society activist, Dakar, January 2014
Unfortunately, the cost of education for these children can be even greater still. Alongside squalid living conditions and overcrowding comes the serious risk of fire. There have been several fires at religious gatherings perhaps most notably an incident that occurred in March 2013. A makeshift shack housing somewhere between 45 and 60 children caught fire late on Sunday. At least 9 children burned to death.
“At least nine children died in the fire late Sunday night in the dense Medina neighborhood here, residents and Senegal’s state news agency said. Seven of them were Koranic students, or talibés, as they are called here, small boys entrusted by impoverished parents to study under the holy man in the evenings and beg for him by day.
The seven had been locked in their room in the wooden dwelling and could not be saved, residents said, as flames, fanned by high winds from the nearby Atlantic Ocean, consumed the house. The other children managed to escape, they said, or had been sleeping outside.”
– Adam Nossiter, New York Times, March 2013
Feesabililla’s aim is to end the exploitation and instead provide these kids not just with a legitimate Quranic and Islamic education but also to give them a livelihood by which they can eventually lift themselves and their families out of poverty. We hope that by working with educators, students of knowledge, and local communities we can develop a program that will teach kids skills like carpentry, sewing and motor mechanics in addition to providing them with a solid and trustworthy grounding in the Deen.
Please help us to make a positive impact, a small gift of a few pounds will go a long way towards changing lives.