After many postponements of his visit to the Catholic University Center of Bangui-RCA, it was finally from March 10 to 16, 2023 that the Director of AJAN stayed in the Central African capital. This long-awaited visit by the Peer Educators of the CIEE-CCU is part of the logic of proximity and communion that characterizes the mode of governance in the works of the Society of Jesus.
We can describe the dynamics of Father Ismaël MATAMBURA, SJ’s immersion visit in four verbs: see, listen, feel with, and guide.
Throughout these visits, the Director of AJAN was able to listen to the testimonies of the partners on the work done by the CIEE-CCU at the level of the city of Bangui. They expressed their admiration for the commitment of young people in the fight against AIDS, while congratulating the actors who support youth initiatives. Above all, they wanted to see the actions of the CIEE-CCU extend to other localities in the CAR to have a better positive impact and make our content benefit the populations of the provinces.
The meeting with the Peer Educators was the culmination of the visit. A day of discussions with the 14 student leaders of the 14 Health Info Clubs (CIS) provided a better understanding of the internal organization of the CIEE and its functioning. The leaders had a moment of free exchange on their experiences as peer educators, the benefits received and the changes that had been made in their lives thanks to the content of the AHAPPY manual. They consider themselves lucky to have learned many useful skills for their human growth. These student leaders benefited from a little leadership training with Father Ishmael.
A cultural evening was organized so that the Director of AJAN could also meet the peer educators themselves. He was able to feel the dynamism of these young people, their joy in being part of this network of young people across the continent, engaged in the mission of compassion, protection and care. They did not hesitate to express their pride in being AJAN ambassadors and witnesses of the AHAPPY program. They were grateful to AJAN for its multiple support and accompaniment, and appreciated the approach of youth initiatives that allow them to find solutions on their own to the problems they identify. Through a sort of fictitious trial, the peer educators staged a situation of discrimination and stigmatization towards a person living with HIV/AIDS. Through this skit, they intend to challenge everyone to respect the dignity of people regardless of their HIV status. They undertake to fight against all forms of discrimination and stigmatization against people living with AIDS.
ENDJINGBOTE Fortuné Vianney, 2nd year master’s student in political communication and crisis management at the Central African Institute of Social Sciences and Management in Bangui. The head of Club Info Santé N°13 at the Catholic University Center of Bangui declares: “It has been almost two years since I became familiar with the Catholic University Center of Bangui as a peer educator. During these moments, I not only had many friends from different religious denominations, but I had to benefit from many trainings that helped me to grow well and to take care of myself and better help others.
Among other things, there is the training of peer educators based on knowledge of STDs/HIV AIDS and their modes of transmission, not to mention the study of the AHAPPY Generation manual that we use at every moment of our meetings. This document is written in a simple and very accessible language with rich content that I consider an asset to better build my life. Also thanks to my insertion among peer educators, I had to participate in the training of online peace leaders with the unwavering support of Father Charles SOMDA. This training, although in a language that I do not master well, allowed me to understand how important it is to be at peace with oneself in order to better impact one’s society.
Another and the very last thing I want to testify here is that every time I arrive at the center, I feel like I am at home, I am always happy and full of joy! May God bless all those who work for the proper functioning of this center, whether they are in the Central African Republic or elsewhere! All my gratitude to AJAN for its multifaceted support, I am proud to belong to this conscious generation which strives to contribute to a fairer world through its commitment. AJAN Ambassador forever!”
After listening to some testimonies, seeing and feeling the joy, commitment and determination of the peer educators, Father MATAMBURA did not fail to congratulate them for the work they are doing. He expressed his joy and satisfaction to know that the CIEE-CCU is doing good to Central African youth and that AHAPPY is making changes in their lives. He took note of their call to expand the presence of the CIEE in the regions of the CAR. Above all, he asked them to think about the practical ways to share their actions and knowledge with other young people on the outskirts. He promised to make a certain number of documents available to enrich the educational talks.
Before ending his visit to Bangui, the Director of AJAN gave some advice and guidelines for the diversification of partners, the visibility of the actions and initiatives undertaken and the culture of monitoring and evaluation to account for the use of the funds that we give the financial partners. Credibility is a strength that will ensure that partners will always be ready to make funds available for work. In all to God be the glory for the grace he gives us to do good to others through AJAN.
By, Charles SOMDA, SJ
Coordinator CIEE-CCU, Bangui-RCA