27 December 2016
In October school was scheduled to start, and everything was ready: the parents, who believe education is important for their children; the children themselves, who want to return to school; the teachers, whose salaries are paid jointly by the government, the factory and NGOs; the classrooms, which have recently been renewed… But a mere 300 meters away from the school, a self-proclaimed general uses a Kalashnikov (and less pretty words than mine) to declare that he has no intention of moving from there. So the parents ask us: ‘how can we send our children to school?’
Just before starting our journey back to the capital, we heard that another site where displaced people live, in Ngakobo, just 1 km from the factory, had been attacked. In this scenario, who dares return home?
Violence has taken control of the Central African Republic and it is difficult to imagine any possible solution. The country is a powder keg and the slightest spark turns into a spiral of violence, be it a herd of cows being stolen or someone from some group being injured in a fight… the consequences are always disproportionate: villages are burnt to the ground in a radius of 40 kms, entire communities are massacred with machetes, and hatred and fear grip people’s hearts. It doesn’t matter whether you are a seleka or an anti-balaka or any of the variants of each group. Attempts at peace never materialize and the government is incapable of imposing order.
The only option left for our children is to attend an improvised ramshackle school where they can seek to continue learning. Because here violence rules, leaving room or nothing else: no education, no development, no peace, no life…
…and an unanswered question is raised in our hearts: ‘how can we give hope to people bound to live in a factory?’
Nadezhna Castellano, JRS Education Specialist