Laura Lora / JRS

Protect…/

To guarantee that children will have access to quality Education and the support they need to live a dignified life.

Teddy is 14 years old, and his dream is to finish his studies and be a judge. “I’ve experienced war. Our house, together with our neighbours’ houses, was burned down by Seleka (an armed rebel group). But I was lucky: no one in my family was killed. But I still can’t talk about the terrible things that I’ve seen, all the bodies I’ve seen strewn on the ground. It’s very difficult because each time the memories come I feel sick.”

“I like school because studying gives me knowledge that will help me one day to get a job, and to have a safer future. However, nothing good will be possible here if there isn’t lasting peace, which is why I am frightened that my dream will never become a reality.”

“I want to be a judge because I will be able to see that injustice doesn’t prevail, and that people respect the law.”

The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world, caught up in humanitarian, political, and economic crises since the year 2012. This crisis has provoked massive displacement of people both inside and outside the country. At the beginning of 2017, the country again descended into a tailspin of violence, with a large spike in the number of displaced: a fifth of the country's population, 4.6 million people, have had to flee their homes. Half of these displaced people are children. In addition, CAR is home to close to half a million refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and Cameroon.

In situations of conflict such as this one, children are the most vulnerable section of the population: they are at risk from various forms of abuse and regarded by armed groups as fodder for recruitment as soldiers. Child soldiers are forced to take an active part in these groups as fighters, cooks, spies, munitions-bearers, and other forms of labour and exploitation. This is in addition to the sexual exploitation suffered by girls, who are often taken by the fighters as sex slaves.

Laura Lora / JRS

The education system, already very fragile as a result of a long period of instability, has deteriorated greatly, and access to education for children in CAR is now extremely limited. The crisis has led to the closure of 25% of all schools, and to an acute shortage of schoolteachers. The closure of schools has led to a corresponding closure of protection spaces for children. Every school closure is the closure of a place where children are made to feel safe and secure.

We work in the educational sphere at all school levels -pre-school, primary, and secondary- offering children psycho-social support; promoting livelihoods training and opportunities for families; rehabilitating former child soldiers (particularly in Bambari); and encouraging values such as reconciliation and peace-building.

Together with Entreculturas, we accompany more than 14,500 refugee children in Lebanon, Chad, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In partnership with Entreculturas we have been working since 2008 in the zones of Bangui-Mbatha and Bambari to offer children a safe place where they can learn, develop, and play in a safe environment.

Laura Lora / JRS