In the Central African Republic (CAR), a project supported by Islamic Relief is providing 8,000 children with support to overcome the traumas of war.
Fighting between government forces and armed groups has forced over one million people from their homes. 700,000 remain displaced, and half of these are children, many of whom have witnessed violence and have lost parents or family members.
Whilst many have fled the country, there are thought to be at least 3,000 children who have been separated from their families, and the Ministry of Defence estimates that 10-15,000 children are now associated with armed groups, an increase from 6,000 last year.
Working with War Child UK and its local partner Enfants Sans Frontiers (ESF), the Child Friendly Spaces offer children respite from the hostile environment, and the opportunity for children aged three to 18 to take part in informal education and psychosocial activities.
Bénédicte works with children affected by the conflict
Bénédicte, 25, is an anthropology student at the University of Bangui, which has been closed since fighting erupted in December. She now works as an animator, entertaining and working with children in one of our three Child Friendly Spaces in the outskirts of Bangui – where hundreds of families have fled fighting in their own communities.
“My favourite thing about working here is the children themselves,” said Bénédicte. “They have a lot of energy and can be difficult sometimes. They saw violence and weapons, and you can see this in some of their behavior.
“When they come here, it changes the dynamic. They play again and have access to some informal education and activities – which is important as the schools are closed.”
Each day, Bénédicte holds a morning class and an afternoon class with children aged five to eight. She leads the sessions with young children in which they have fun singing, dancing, drawing and playing educational games that encourage them to interact with other children and express themselves. Children are also informed of their rights in the sessions in accordance with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
“Thank you for providing this project for the children, I hope you will be able to continue to support us and the children here.”
In addition to helping vulnerable children to overcome the traumas of war, Islamic Relief is also providing vital food aid to those affected by the crisis and is working as part of inter-faith efforts to secure lasting solutions to the crisis.
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