With help of Johan Velema and Lieneke Okker-van Dis from the Dutch team of CAMA-Mission, the ABC foundation came in contact with Claudio and Mirjam Steiner, a Suisse couple offering for IRIS DAKAR a save place for orphaned and abandoned children in Dakar, Senegal in foster families. See https://irisdakar.org/.
They live just outside Dakar in Briam Ndao with 3 families and 11 foster children. As many boys and girls in Dakar live in the streets, and do not attend school, Claudio and Mirjam initiated a project for these street children. They literally go into the streets to tell the Gospel, to build a relation with these children and to give them support for a better life. In day-time they offer reading and writing classes for these children in a rented building, integrated in a program with sports, games and personal coaching. In spring 2021 the ABC foundation raised funds to be able to deliver 2800 booklets and several sets with laminated plates. Thanks to the contributions of many donors we could ship these in a container with materials of the CAMA mission in Juli 2021. In January 2022 we received the message that the booklets had passed customs, were delivered to the Steiner family and distributed among the children in Dakar. Lieneke wrote the following illustrated report.
Let the children come to Me! IRIS Dakar – ABC foundation
With a pick-up full of Bible stories, we drive towards the Steiner family at IRIS Dakar. Mirjam and Claudio Steiner live some ninety minutes drive outside Dakar, the capital of Senegal. The road is fine, except for the last sandy part. The driver to set manually the car in the 4-wheel drive mode. Soon we discover the fenced area with a large building in the centre. It’s our destination!
Claudio en Mirjam foster children in their own family and coach three other fosterfamilies. Because of their good relation with official institutions, they are asked every now and than to take care for a child that is unwanted by its biological parents, became an orphan, or is unable to live at home for other reasons. In addition to the care for children in their personal life, they organise childrensclub in the surrounding villages to tell them about the Lord Jezus. They also have a project for boys living in the streets of Dakar. In day time these boys can come to school for a shower, a meal and education. At night the boys are visited in the streets to share Bible stories and provide practical help. Some boys admit that they want another life than living on the streets. IRIS Dakar can help these boys to find a save place to live.
When we arrive, Claudio enters the gate, so that we can drive the pick-up in the compound. The children arrive quickly to help us unload the boxes and carry these to the house.
We first get a tour over the compound. Each family have their own home. In addition their is a large common room for daily diners and familyevenings. We are invited to share diner immediately. Three dishes are brought filled with Mafé, een recipe from Senegal with rice and peanutsauce. We all sit around these dishes and after the prayers we eat from it, each with a personal spoon. A little girl climbs at my leap and let me help her with eating.
After diner, we set down and I got the opportunity to share a story. I tell the story of Youssouf, a boy playing outside untill he discovers a large crowd at the end of the street. He approaches, curious about what’s happening. On arrival he discoves the voice of a man, but he is unable to see. Youssef tries to sneak through the crowd but adults sent him away by saying: ‘go play outside, this is nothing for you, you are still to small’. Youssouf is disappointed and sad. But than he discovers another voice, full of love and patience: ‘let Youssouf come to me, make room for him. I purposely came to meet children like Youssouf. Do not obstruct his passage’.
The children in the house of the Steiners are full of attention when I tell them that Jesus’ arms are always open to welcome them and no one, literaly no one can prevent them to meet Jesus. They are always welcome with Him!
All children than receive a set of ABC booklets and they are very pleased with it. Wauw! Each of them having their own set of booklets with Bible stories. Some are able to read and start immediately. Mother Mirjam promisses she will write their names in the booklets. Claudio tells us that he has used this kind of material before for his streetwork and he definitely will use it in the childrensclubs. ‘It is a blessing indeed to receive this material. It helps to visualise the stories, especially because the drawings of Kees de Kort are recognisable in the Senegal culture. Many thanks to all people who have played a role in this!’
After having taken some pictures, we are invited to come in the middle of the group, so that they can pray for us. Then it’s time for the driver and me to leave for Dakar. We go with an empty pick-up, but a heart full of thankfullness.
On behalf of the staff of IRIS Dakar and all children there: Thank you sponsors, for providing the possibility to buy these booklets; thanks to the ABC foundation for providing these booklets and all endless efforts to ship these to Senegal! May God bless your work.
Yesterday night the ABC booklets were used in the project for boys in the streets of Dakar. It is so valuable to see how it works. later Lieneke also delivered large laminated plates that Johan has brought with him in his suitcase. This, gives even more opportunities to tune the work to the specific needs of this project among the boys in the street.
Finally, Claudio gave sets of ABC booklets to families in his network to encourage them to disciple their children.