I had a very good conversation today with Josué and Luther, some of the local heroes we work with, who are in Bangui right now. As you may know, we have Learning Centers in two cities; Bangui and Berberati.
The situation in Bangui
In Bangui, the status remains unsettled in the parts of the city where our Learning Centers are located. Many of the children are still living at refuge sites near their neighborhoods. It has been like that now for over three months. For some of them, there has been a relative calm that has come back to their neighborhood to the point that they may venture home during the day, but then seek shelter at night back at the refuge site where many of them are guarded by peacekeepers.
Josué did tell me that there was a move last week to try and reopen some schools in the city, but then last night and into this morning there was renewed fighting and gunfire. So, the effort to try and reopen schools may be put on hold again.
The situation in Berberati
In Berberati, things are much more back to normal than in Bangui. In Berberati, stores are opening back up and there has not been outright shooting and looting now for more than three weeks, so that’s a great praise. Private schools are looking to reopen on April 1, but there are no immediate plans for public schools to begin again. Teachers have not been paid for months now, so they’re hesitant to go back to the classroom.
What things could look like
Since there has been extensive looting, particularly in Bangui, over the last months, people going back to their homes from the refuge sites find their homes pretty much empty. There will be a need for months to come of not only setting up households again, but perhaps more importantly providing for food for these families. Relief efforts for food purchase and distribution, as well as purchase and distribution of basic household items, will continue for some time.
On top of that, planting season is coming in the months of April and May and many farmers are without seed because they were forced to use it for food for their families over the last months of unrest. A huge relief effort will be needed to provide help with seeds to avoid a massive food shortage in the months to come.
Again, thank you for all your prayers on behalf of the CAR. We continue to marvel that no lives were lost to the unrest among the orphans, their caregivers and the VisionTrust staff! If you’d like to help in the relief efforts, consider providing a survival kit to help with immediate needs.