“Peace is really important, isn’t it? If there’s no peace, we can’t come to school. That’s why the team from Aegis came to educate us.”
It’s a hot day in late January as the Principal of Lycée Barthélémy Boganda, a school in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, addresses 2,000 students about to take part in a peace education workshop with the Aegis Trust.
Through recent months, international donor support for development in the Central African Republic has fallen in the face of rising insecurity. Rebel destruction of a convoy of trucks bringing goods from Cameroon in January led to Cameroon closing its border with CAR.
However, despite challenging conditions, the Aegis Trust’s peace education team in CAR has extended its work, engaging thousands of people – both students and community leaders – in workshops which help participants deal with their own experiences of conflict-related trauma and gain the skills to help themselves and others avoid being drawn into violence.
The workshops feature a mobile exhibition developed by Aegis containing the stories of Central Africans from different backgrounds who have taken risks to protect the lives of others, or to extend a hand of forgiveness when their starting-point had been a desire for revenge.
“I think the mobile exhibition panels are a key tool for raising awareness among the Central African population,” says one lady widowed by armed violence in CAR who took part in an Aegis workshop at the end of December.
“I have participated in many workshops, but the content Aegis presents is really specific and traces the real history of our country,” says Pastor Amitié Pascal, another recent participant. “Today I am moved to see these panels which will help young people to change their mentality, because they are the future.”
Back at the Lycée Barthélémy Boganda, students think it’s time this peace education programme was implemented much more widely.
“I’m amazed by it,” says Delph Nganadangai, a final year stude
nt. “Now I know the real history of my country from Barthélémy Boganda until now. I learnt many things are not going well in CAR, but this workshop helps us by giving some solutions. I tell you – do more in every school. This is what I have to say.”
The work of Aegis’ team in the Central African Republic depends on your generous support. You can contribute directly by donating or fundraising through the Marina H Smith Foundation: https://marinahsmithfoundation.org/campaign/marina-h-smith-foundation/team/5/