Earlier this year, I met 19-month old Grace-a-dieu, pictured here with his grandmother who has been his sole caretaker since he lost his parents. One of Concern’s community volunteers detected that Grace-a-dieu had become malnourished. Now his grandmother brings him each week to the mobile clinic site where he is weighed, measured and receives treatment in the form of a highly nutritious peanut-paste. His grandmother told me that she did not have many resources to take care of him and had been very worried about his condition. Now she’s grateful for how much healthier he has become over the past few weeks and is feeling more positive about his future.
Concern supports 20 health centres and a number of mobile clinics such as the one attended by Grace-a-dieu. We’ve treated over 12,000 children with malnutrition and illnesses such as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia, and are now beginning a new maternal health programme.
Concern in CAR also addresses some of the causes of malnutrition by supporting farmers with seeds, tools and training, restarting vegetable gardening and fishing activities, improving access to clean water and latrines and promoting good child feeding and hygiene practices.
Many days, I worry about the future of CAR. I worry about the fact that armed groups are once again attacking villages and causing people to flee -displacement is now back at levels not seen since the peak of the crisis in 2013. I worry about how much people might lose again, and how they will feed their families next year if once again forced to leave everything behind. I worry about how little attention is given to the situation in CAR, and how little funding and few resources are available despite the growing needs.
But I also feel hopeful. People, like Grace-a-dieu and his grandmother, are strong, determined, resilient and succeeding to make a better life for themselves and their families, despite the uncertainties they face. The current situation reminds me why it is so important for Concern to be in CAR – available to respond to emergency needs as they arise, but also committed to staying long-term. Working with people and communities to recover and build a future with new possibilities.