Fabien Makongo works for Concern in the Central African Republic as Programme Manager for Food Security and Livelihoods. Here, he tells us why he won’t stop until he has built a future for the world’s hungriest people.
“My father is a doctor and he used to go to rural communities where he would organise weeks or months of medical care where there were no facilities. This made me realise I wanted to bring assistance to people, but not in medicine. This led me to study agricultural economy at the University of Kinshasa.
I started this work in 2007 so I have about 10 years of experience in the humanitarian sector. I have worked with other organisations, Concern has projects that have a long term focus. At Concern, we try to stay in one place and improve the quality of life in that place.
Concern’s objectives align with my own, which is to provide assistance to the most vulnerable people and to work in forgotten places.”
“The conditions in the Central African Republic resemble the ones in my own country and I chose to come here because I felt that we could really improve people’s situations through agriculture.
The main difficulty here is the absence of state services and their limited capacity to provide support. The conflict severely affected the state’s ability to provide this support, especially in rural communities.
It is also hard to recruit people with the competencies you need to work on our projects. There are a lot of people with the desire and will to work but the skills are not always there. You need to find people who have the will and a few skills, and you need to train them and support them. I like doing this and sharing my knowledge with the staff.”
“A project that really touched me was one we did in 2015. We worked with the community to rebuild a bridge. Many people had left [the area] during the conflict to protect themselves. Seeing this work carried out encouraged them to come back home. The people who helped on the project received cash for their work and this helped them to establish themselves.
It’s difficult to live in an environment with such insecurity. For me what is important is to try to be accepted by the community. I have seen through my experience in other countries that you need to follow traditions. It’s actually important to learn how to say hello to people. These things help me become closer to the local community.”
Here in the Central African Republic there are people who don’t have anything to eat. There are people who produce crops they could sell but because of the limited road access they are not able to. There are women who die because they can’t get to the hospital. There are no management systems that will allow for people to live in dignity. People who support Concern should know that their assistance actually save lives.