For many months, a heart-wrenching civil war has been brewing in the Central African Republic. We recently received an update from Barb Wooler, who just returned from the CAR.
Barb reports that the country, including the capital city of Bangui, remains unstable with continuing violence and devastating poverty. People are struggling to process all that they have seen, experienced, and lost since the war started in March, 2013.
Regarding Project Hope & Charite (orphan care programs), Barb reports both good and bad news. On a bright note, all the PHC staff have been paid every month since the war started. Also, since January 2014, PHC has provided $35,000 of extra food and/or seed, and gardening tools above normal budget for PHC orphans. There have been no reports of PHC orphans being killed or recruited/kidnapped to be child solders. Two children were kidnapped in October, but were returned after a ransom was paid. Sadly, two orphan school teachers were hit by gunfire, including one who died from his injuries in January. An orphan in Bangui shot in the arm and leg and is still recovering. And at least two orphans died from malaria when they were living in the savannah and away from medical help. There may be many other similar cases that we are not yet aware of.
Grace Church and Lititz Christian School partner with four Hand-in-Hand schools through PHC. Here is what Barb reports on these partnerships:
Half of the 44 church-based Hand in Hand (HnH) orphan schools have managed to provide some services, though at times spotty, to their orphans this past year. Since HnH students live in rural areas and are part of the same community as their HnH teachers and church family, keeping track of them is easier. When fighting erupts in their village, they all flee together to the savannah to wait it out – usually for days but sometimes for months.
Many Grace Church attenders also sponsor individual orphans in Bangui. Here is what Barb reports on these sponsorships:
The Bangui-based orphan sponsorship model has struggled to function. While we have provided for the orphans who have returned to us (about 60%), we cannot provide for those orphans who cannot get to us. Keeping track of sponsorship orphans has become difficult and in some cases impossible, usually because they and their extended families have fled Bangui. Unlike the HnH orphan care model, Bangui’s sponsorship children are living in 30+ neighborhoods throughout the city. They attend different churches and are part of many unconnected communities. This model can work during peace-time, but breaks down during war.
Please make it a priority to pray for our children in the Central African Republic! There are 3,000+ PHC orphans who depend on churches like ours, but with failing infrastructure, it is difficult for our tangible support to get to them. Pray for the PHC leadership as they make difficult decisions regarding the ministry’s future. Pray for miraculous intervention and stabilization in this war-torn country, and for God to work mightily through our thousands of brothers and sisters there.