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Talibe children beg to survive

a talibe takes a break from begging in a market in the Medina Gounass suburb of Dakar, Senegal on Sept. 24. The Quranic students rise before dawn to study, and then spend hours begging for money and food to bring back to their religious teacher, or marabout.

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
a talibe takes a break from begging in a market in the Medina Gounass suburb of Dakar, Senegal on Sept. 24. The Quranic students rise before dawn to study, and then spend hours begging for money and food to bring back to their religious teacher, or marabout.



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In this Sept. 24, 2013 photo, Quranic students known as talibes sleep together in the crowded room that serves as their classroom and living quarters, at a daara, or Quranic school, in the Medina Gounass suburb of Dakar, Senegal. The students rise before dawn to study, and then spend hours begging for money and food to bring back to their religious teacher, or marabout. At many schools, talibes who don't bring back the daily quota of around 50 cents are beaten.

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In this Sept. 24, 2013 photo, a talibe counts his earnings to make sure he's reached the daily begging quota of 300cfa, about 60 cents, in the Medina Gounass suburb of Dakar, Senegal. The Quranic students rise before dawn to study, and then spend hours begging for money and food to bring back to their religious teacher, or marabout.

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In this Sept. 24, 2013 photo, a talibe counts his earnings to make sure he's reached the daily begging quota of 300cfa, about 60 cents, in the Medina Gounass suburb of Dakar, Senegal. The Quranic students rise before dawn to study, and then spend hours begging for money and food to bring back to their religious teacher, or marabout.

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In this Oct. 10, 2013 photo, Four-year-old Fatou Ba, who was born with one leg shorter than the other, adjusts her sarong as she sits inside the one-room home she shares with her parents and brothers. Fatou's mother hasn't yet had the heart to tell her that her older brother Ali, 7, was killed when a fire struck the Dakar shack where he was sleeping along with other Quranic students. Tradition, as well as poverty, dictate that Fatou's surviving brothers will also be sent to Quranic boarding schools, where they will face harsh living conditions and forced begging.

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Talibes memorize Quranic verses written on wooden tablets, in a temporary school where they both study and sleep, in the village of Ndame, Senegal. Diallo had been living with his students in a shack in the capital, Dakar, when a fire broke out and killed eight of his young pupils. In the village, the students live in cleaner conditions and don't have to beg, but when Diallo decides to return to Dakar, the students will go too.

NDAME, Senegal — Seven nights a week, 13-year-old Cheikhou and his younger brother Bamba would make their way to a wooden shack they shared with dozens of other barefoot child beggars, blanketing the floor with their tired bodies...

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