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” I like this school, but don’t have a father anymore”

There are tens of thousands of people still living in IDP camps in Bangui, capital of Central African Republic. The violence that has lasted for the entire year has forced people to seek security in the camps. Many have homes nearby, but they are either destroyed, or it’s not safe to return to them. Here five children, who are studying in temporary learning spaces that Finn Church Aid has built, share their thoughts on what it is like to go to school in an IDP camp and what are their expectations for the future.

  • Josue, 12 years, temporary school of FATEB

    “I used to live in Miskine (a district of Bagui). I saw people being killed there. I saw it. We had to leave. That’s why we came here in December with my two sisters and brother. We have school from seven a.m. until eleven. I like going to school because I like doing assignments. I like math most, because it’s easiest for me. It’s important to go to school so that later you can continue your studies. I think I’d like to be a mathematician when I’m grown-up.”

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  • Theresia, 8 years, temporary school of FATEB

    “I like this school, but my father is dead. I no longer have a father. We came here in December from home in the Fifth district. Our relatives living in here asked us to come, because it was not safe there where we lived. I have two brothers: one is eleven and one nine months. I have a mother, but no longer a father. It is sad. I take care of my little brother and play with him. I help out my mother that way. Today, my brother turned nine months. In school, I like math and French most. It is important to study for the future. When I grow up I want to a president. Then I can tell people what to do.”

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  • Christopher, 10 years, temporary school of the Adventist church’s camp

    “There are nine of us here: mother, father and my six siblings. We came here from Mgbenguewe, in the Fifth district. You could no longer live there. Now we sleep in a tent back there. In school, I like math and dictation most. I am good at them. When I grow up I want to be a minister. I am not really sure what ministers do. But I want to help my country. That’s why it’s important to study: so you can help. Maybe it would be best to be a Minister of Education.”

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  • Salomon, 9 years, temporary school of the Adventist church’s camp

    “This school is good, but the former school was nice too. Sometimes I miss it. I used to live in Basange, which is in the Fifth district. Seleka (guerilla group, which is mostly Muslim) was there, and we could not stay there. We came here on 5th of December, when this place opened. We have now been here eight months. I have a mother, father and an older brother and sister here. I am the youngest. I go to school because of the future. When I grow up I want to be a school director, so that I can organise school to be as well functioning as possible.”

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  • Hilarie, 12 years, temporary school of the Adventist church’s camp

    Seleka came to us in the Fifth district, and that’s why we had to come here. I and my three sisters and two brothers have been here since 5th of December. I have a lot of friends here and in the afternoons we play together. I like going to school. It is important to go there so you can learn things. I don’t think there is any difference between girls and boys in the school. Both can study as well as the other and become as good as the other. I like reading and algebra most. When I grow up I want to become a doctor, so I can help especially women.”

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In order for children to be able to go to school in even in emergency conditions, Finn Church Aid has built three temporary learning spaces in the vicinity of the refugee camps in Bangui. Some of the children live in the camps by themselves, without their parents. Schools offer security and shelter in chaotic circumstances. There are over five hundred children and youth studying in the schools every weekday.

 

Up till the beginning of August, there were even more students, but the fourth temporary school built by FCA was closed in July.  Its students were able to return to a permanent school of Sica 2, also built by FCA.

Due to security reasons, all the children interviewed are presented by their first names only.

 

Text: Satu Helin
Photos: Ville Asikainen