Arriving to Smiles in the Central African Republic

by | Aug 28, 2017

There have been smiles at every step upon our arrival in the Central African Republic. The airport is small and still rebuilding from war, but the security and customs staff is warm and welcoming. I expected tension and unease in this capital city, Bangui. The country is in crisis, with reports of chaos and violence in many places outside of the capital. I am grateful for iACT to have the opportunity to work next to parents and teachers in starting little ripples of peace in this strikingly beautiful country.

I can see Congo across the river. The surroundings are green and lush. It is so calming to watch the fishermen on their long canoes gliding across the water. It’s going to be a hot and muggy day, but right now the morning is still pleasant. We head out soon to meet parents of children that will be attending the preschool we’ll be working with, training its teachers in the Little Ripples model.

Yesterday I received an email from the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. It was an “atrocity alert” that included CAR. When you click into their report, they state: Populations in the Central African Republic face an imminent risk of mass atrocity crimes committed by various armed groups and militias.

In times likes this in CAR, some might ask: Why come to work on preschool education? To this, we say: It is the exact right time. Children are the most vulnerable within an already vulnerable population, and preschool age children are going through a key developmental stage that will have a huge impact on the rest of their lives. This is the time to support their teachers and parents in creating spaces where these children can thrive and be the future of a more peaceful community, country, and region.

It is early on this first full day in CAR. I’m looking forward to learning from the people I will meet, and I’m really looking forward to exchanging more smiles.

Little Ripples: Central African Republic

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