The population living in the Haut-Mbomou region, in the east of the Central African Republic, must cohabit with thousands of refugees which come from South Sudan. Refugees escape from the conflict that has been hit their country for years. Refugees have been placed in Obo and here children face daily numerous security risks linked to the persistent conflict of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), often preventing their regular activities, especially educational ones. Thanks to UNICEF funding, COOPI intervenes in Haut-Mbomou region since December 2016, with an emergency education project for vulnerable children of Obo. It has a particular attention to the small Sudanese refugee refugees who escaped to the war in their country. Now let’s read Benjamin’s testimony: he is a South Sudanese boy who lives in the Obo refugee camp and told us his school experience in the last year.
The school in the opinion of Benjamin
«My name is Benjamin and I am 11. I attended the school until the fifth grade before the war broke out in South Sudan. When we were forced to escape to the Central African Republic, I stayed at the Bambouti refugee camp for 6 months with my dad, my mom and my three sisters. Then I spent 4 months at Obo, where my family had been relocated. I was not able to go to school for 10 months because my parents had not the resources to guarantee me an education and because the courses were in French in public establishments while we studied in English in South Sudan. I had almost renounced to finish my studies and my parents were worried because they feared I would have never learnt a good French and find a good job. But one day, COOPI’s staff began awareness-raising sessions in the camp where we lived in Obo, leading to taking care of deschooled children. They identified me and directed me to Temporary Learning Spaces where I attended remedial classes in French for 2 months and 2 weeks, with many other South Sudanese refugees. Me and the other children received educational material that allowed us to integrate in the Central African educational system. Now I can read and write in French thanks to these remedial classes! I can finally go back to school with children of my age!».