Sometimes the simplest things are the best.
When we moved to Senegal back in 2003, one of the first things we were tasked with doing were so-called ‘Band-Aid & Boo-Boo Clinics’. Basically this meant taking a basic First-Aid kit, walking around until you came across a few talibé boys or kiddos in the village and then getting to know them as you cleaned and bandages up their scrapes and boo-boos.
This activity seemed pretty basic, but it had so many benefits. Clean wounds heal better and the risk of infection is reduced. For talibés who are often neglected (at best), the reassuring, nurturing care of an adult may go a long way in helping them feel loved and secure. It’s a great language exercise as you greet them, ask their name, where they are from, what they like to do for fun… just chatting and getting to know the boys. It can build friendships with little ones right in your neighborhood in Dakar, and with time we have found that they learn to trust you and bring you their friends who are injured or sick.
Now that our kids are older (approaching ages 5 and 8), we decided to reintroduce the Band-Aid & Boo-Boo Clinics as a family activity. Every morning, there are talibés walking our neighborhood asking for money and food. We don’t give money, but we can easily give our time, a friendly word and a bandage.
I took the kids to the nearest pharmacy and we bought hand sanitizer, cotton, an assortment of Band-Aids, gauze and medical tape, antibiotic cream and of course… the famous red Betadine. #formerFrenchcolony
All of it came to about 10,000 CFA, or $20 (I tried really hard not to think about how much cheaper it would be in the US at WalMart) and we came home to put it in a little Kayoong basket with handles.
More on talibés in Senegal: