Two weeks ago, I wrote about Gearing Up for the Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) Humanitarian Aid project in the Bohong area of CAR. Today, I want to share some news from the other side of the border. It is true that I have not been in the Central African Republic, but some of those working on the project have been to Garoua Boulai to get supplies for the work. They have brought news and some pictures. Here’s a little information about work that is getting started and getting done!
First, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church – CAR (EEL-RCA) went to five villages to explain the project to village leaders. After discussion, they enrolled the teams. The next week, they returned with tools – in pieces for easier transport. Now, teams of villagers are working together and sharing tools.
To build houses the teams are making mud bricks, but this is the dry season. So, they first need to pump water (with motors provided by the project) into large 1,000 liter containers (also provided by the project – and pictured in the blog two weeks ago). Bricks are then fired in a village-made kiln to make them stronger.
Walls are built – with even the youngest helping at times! Later, grasses (cut in the bush) will be tied together and attached to the roof frame.
Building Spring Boxes
Many springs in the area form small ponds where women have gone for water. The problem is that this water is stagnant, often dirty, and a breeding ground for mosquitos and other germ-borne illnesses. The first picture shows women getting water from such a spring and transporting it to their homes on their heads. (Note: do you know how heavy water is? It weighs 8 pounds a gallon – so these basins probably weight more than 30 pounds each.) Once women arrive at home the open containers also present sanitation problems as germs can easily contaminate all the water and provide other places for mosquitos to breed.
The Project for the Development of Springs (PASE) workers already work in the region around Baboua. They were included in this project to build/repair spring boxes in the same villages where the houses are being built. The PASE team also built a roof so that women don’t stand in the sun or rain (when that season comes) as they get water. The other picture is a women getting clean water and putting it in a container with a cover to help keep it clean. (Note: it still weighs a lot! And, is still carried on her head.)
In the same villages children are being vaccinated and basic health care is provided. I don’t have any pictures of this work yet, but here is a photo of the project team being welcomed into the village. People cut some greens to wave in celebration. You can imagine how thrilled they are to have support to begin rebuilding their lives.
Last year, emergency humanitarian
aid proved seed to some villages. Seed, though, is still hard to get – because of lack of availability and because most people don’t have the money to buy what is available. Sometimes people put their money together to try to get what was needed, but the situation is still critical. Of those who got seed last year, some could not save any to plant this year – the hunger situation was too extreme and they needed to eat that they grew.
This year’s aid will provide seed in March at the beginning of the rainy season. In the meantime, the Association of Volunteers for the Protection of the Environment (AVPE) team members are planting demonstration gardens to help villagers learn methods that are better for the environment.
A lot of work is being done by village teams and EEL-RCA project staff in order to implement the LDR Humanitarian Aid Project. I am sure that what I have reported here is just the tip of the iceberg. Along with all of the material progress, these people are also rebuilding their communities and their hope for the future.