Raising three children in a camp amid the insecurity of the Central African Republic: A single mother’s story

Published: 11 June 2014 7:34 CET

Nelly Muluka, IFRC

As the security situation in the Central African Republic deteriorates due to a sudden surge in violence in the capital of Bangui, the lives of families continue to be thrown into chaos. Thousands have been forced from their homes, taking up refuge in camps for the internally displaced.

Tatiana Feikiram, 30, is a mother of three, currently living in a camp for displaced people in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. She has just given birth.

“I was living with my husband and our two children in Bangui. Then one day, after the fighting began, he did not come back home. I later learned that he had been killed by unknown people. I was four months pregnant,” says Tatiana.

She takes a moment to breastfeed her three day old infant who is lying on the floor at the camp before continuing. “On the evening that we left the village, I was in the house with the children. The shooting was just too much, the sounds were getting closer, the children were scared. I was also scared for them. I had to protect them, so with that in mind, I carried one on my back and held the other one’s hand and we started walking to this camp.”

On arriving at the camp, she found her elderly parents who had also been chased from their home. The following day, she braved a journey back to her village amid the sound of gunshots to get some basic essentials for her family.

“I was shocked to find only embers where our house had stood the previous evening,” says Tatiana, adding that she lost all her belongings in the fire.

Tatiana says life at the camp with an infant is not easy. “First, I have two other young children to look after, then there is the extreme heat during the day and the cold at night. There is also smoke inside the tent throughout the day since we all cook from here, and that too is not good for the baby,” she says, adding that, she hopes one day life will be different, with people being able to return back to their villages and living peacefully.

She does not know how long that will take, so, for the foreseeable future, this congested, unhygienic camp will be home to her family. One of her greatest concerns is the education her children will miss out on if schooling is not provided in the camp. “The children’s education has been disrupted. If we had somewhere to take them to school, I would do it willingly. But the village is a no go zone for me. I can’t stand the sound of gunshots anymore.”

The Central African Red Cross Society, in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other partners, continues to support affected families with health services, water, sanitation and hygiene. Through an emergency appeal of 1,136,640 Swiss francs, the National Society is assisting at least 50,000 people affected by the civil unrest.



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