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Educational Week: For a Happy, Compassionate and Committed Generation, the Education and Listening Information Center of the Catholic University Center of Bangui- (CIEE-CCU), Central African Republic

As we implement this year’s activities for the Youth to Youth Initiative which are carried out in all centers of the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN), the Center’s Education and Listening Information Center Catholic University of Bangui-RCA is opening a new chapter that aims to put young people at the center of the fight against HIV infections, stigma and discrimination through youth-led activities that include awareness raising, education , in this regard, peer educators were called upon to renew their commitment to being at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

To mark the official launch of the activities of the educational and academic year 2022-2023, the Center d’Information d’Education et d’Ecoute of the Center Catholique Universitaire de Bangui-RCA devoted a week to a certain number of activities of the November 12 to 19, 2022.

Theatrical plays presented by the participants during the event

The theme chosen for this educational year is: Happy Generation: Compassion and Commitment. It is a continuation of the promotion of the integral development of youth in the dynamics of the AJAN HIV/AIDS prevention program for youth. It was during the Ordinary General Assembly of the CIEE-CCU that the general orientation of the year was given to the 154 Peer Educators from the various university institutions and Grandes Ecoles in Bangui. They were invited to renew their commitment to work in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the university environment, but also to be actors of qualitative social change and promoters of responsible sexuality in young circles. A rereading of the statutory texts of the CIEE-CCU refreshed everyone’s memory of the vision, mission and way of proceeding of this Jesuit apostolate structure with young people in the Central African Republic. Insistence was made on the spirit of volunteerism and the desire to be trained to become balanced men and women able to act for the good of others. “The activities of the CIEE-CCU aim to bring about an inner transformation in you capable of being externalized on a daily basis in order to qualitatively influence others,” recalled the CIEE-CCU coordinator.

In addition, board game competitions, a football match, dance performances and fashion shows, events and cultural exhibitions allowed the Peer Educators to express their genius and talents. It was for them a moment of relaxation, of entertainment which nourishes and maintains a certain fraternity and a friendship between them. A space for discussion also allowed them to reflect among themselves around a theme on their experience as Peer Educators benefiting from the AHAPPY program. The theme was: The Parenting Pair: From Stigma to Compassion. Each participant found his or her benefit by talking about what he or she learned about HIV/AIDS, the changes he or she observes in his or her daily life in his or her person and in his or her relationship to others.

The inaugural lesson for the official launch of the educational year was delivered on Saturday, November 19, 2022, by Father Maurice MANAMBA, SJ, Superior of the Jesuits in CAR. It focused on the theme of the year: Happy Generation: Compassion and Commitment. Starting from a picture of the general context of multifaceted crises in our world and the risks associated with it, Father MANAMBA showed how much young people are vulnerable and exposed to despair. The need to find a lasting solution to this situation has prompted the Jesuits to clearly formulate an apostolic preference for young people: to walk or accompany young people in creating a hopeful future! He insisted on the fact that it was not a question of doing things in place of young people, but rather of listening to them give their reading of the situation based on methods and reading grids inspired by pedagogy and Ignatian spirituality.

Participants and Mr. Patrick Charly GBADEMA, representative of the Rector of the University of Bangui pose for a photo after receiving their certificates

It is about letting young people express their needs, and letting them take initiatives. He took the metaphor of musical accompaniment: “The instruments accompany those who sing, not the other way around. Father MANAMBA returned to the AHAPPY program to show how it is an initiative to support young people for their integral human development. He invited the audience not to fall into the temptation of indifference to the suffering of others, because the lack of compassion is a lack of charity, and without love, no man can live happily. A happy generation cannot be indifferent. Throughout this educational year, the Peer Educators of the CIEE-CCU are invited to make it stand out through their sense of compassion.

Which compassion should not be limited to simple pity, but rather to an inner dynamic of communion that urges to action to relieve our suffering brothers and sisters in any way. To do this, we need to have a sense of gratitude: knowing how to be grateful for what we have received from others, and leaving the trap of complaining from the eternal dissatisfied. We must consider ourselves happy in order to be able to give a smile to others, reach out to also give and not always to receive. It is about being truly men and women for others, by loving and serving on a daily basis.

The week was a real success, full of creativity and vitality. It is with joy that our guests and our partners, in this case the representative of the rector of the University of Bangui took part in these activities. They did not fail to express their satisfaction and admiration for the dynamism of all these young people involved in the CIEE-CCU.

By, Charles SOMDA, SJ

For the CIEE-CCU-Bangui-RCA

Ismael Matambura


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