Jospin is ten years old. With his parents, three brothers and his sister, he had to flee the village of Nassolé in the west of CAR in April 2018, when armed groups marched into the area. They were able to find refuge with a host family in the city of Berberati. Since then, Jospin hasn’t been able to go to school because his parents couldn’t afford to do so.
“I’m really upset about this, because I had friends in school and I really wanted to hang out with them, learn things and have fun”, he says. “But it’s really not my parents’ fault, they just don’t have the money to send me or my siblings to school”, explains Jospin.
The world’s most neglected crisis
NRC declared the he Central African Republic the most neglected crisis in the world in 2017. The country has been in turmoil since a violent takeover of power in 2013. Violence spread as armed militias fought each other and took revenge on the civilian population. In the aftermath of the presidential election in 2016, a relative calm had returned in the country and hope for peace emerged. In late 2016, however, fighting resumed between armed groups, including ex-Seleka factions and anti-Balaka militias, both controlling vast areas of the country.
This new spike in violence has led to the highest level of forced displacement ever recorded in the Central African Republic, with a 70 per cent increase of internally displaced people in 2017. It is currently estimated that more than 1.2 million people have been forcibly displaced.
On 6 February 2019, the Central African government and armed groups signed a peace and reconciliation agreement to facilitate the return of displaced persons.
Dreaming of the future
Despite living in the midst of conflict, Jospin has great ambitions. He would like to show his friends that you can amount to something, even when you’re missing out on school. One day, he had the idea to build small, doll-sized bamboo houses. “I was really bored at home, so I wanted to do something fun instead of doing nothing”, he recounts.
Jospin’s dream is to become an architect. He’s already thinking about building a big houses made of clay for his parents and siblings. Until then, he’s learning the trade on the go. As soon as he sees a house he likes, Jospin copies it with the help of small bamboo stems. This takes time and effort: to have sufficient wood, he sometimes needs to search for the right bamboo sticks for up to three hours.
When Jospin finishes his little bamboo houses, he either tries to sell them at the Berberati aerodrome or at the market. On good days, he can make up to 5.19 USD per house. “Each time I sell a house I give the money to my mom. That way, she can try to save and maybe send me to school next year”. But saving up is difficult, when the family also has to spend money on water, food, housing and other essentials.
Too many children don’t get an education
Close to three million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in CAR and more than half of them are children. In 2018, over 70 per cent of the country’s children were forced to abandon their schooling and in some areas this percentage can even go up to 100 per cent.
While Jospin has been able to make the best of a difficult situation and is looking forward to hopefully going back to school at the start of the next school year, many more children like him won’t be able to do so. This is why NRC has endeavoured to support the public education system at national, local and community level to provide quality education to children. NRC makes sure that children who have missed out on their education are able to catch up with their peers to try and reduce the number of Jospins who are still out there, desperate to go back to school.
In addition to education, NRC is building and repairing houses, supporting communities to restore their livelihood, running water, sanitation, and hygiene activities and giving information, counselling and legal assistance to displaced people.