Birao: MINUSCA Zambian contingent provides shelter for a vulnerable family

10 Jun 2021

Birao: MINUSCA Zambian contingent provides shelter for a vulnerable family

Maria Kabatanya

The Zambian contingent (ZAMBATT VI) deployed to Birao in the north of the Central African Republic has handed over a furnished house to the previously homeless Tongoushi family – providing them with not only much-needed shelter but also a foundation on which to rebuild their shattered lives.

It was during one of their routine community outreach activities that the contingent’s Female Engagement Team (FET) found the family of four, including one minor, near the ZAMBATT Toumou check-point Temporary Operating Base. They are among the countless victims of conflict in the Central African Republic – all the adults in the family are suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

With shelter among the most pressing of their needs, the Zambian peacekeepers mobilized resources through their chaplaincy department – in the form of offertory – for the construction and furnishing of a house for the Tougouchis, at a cost of 1,109,500 CFA francs.

While handing over the house, Vakaga Prefect Leonard Mbelle described the gesture by the UN peacekeepers as “not only testament to the contingent’s support towards the community but also the love of God”. He called on the community to learn a valuable lesson of sharing with others and praised the ZAMBATT chaplain for incorporating the local clergy into his fold, as a demonstration of the good that can be achieved when religious leaders unite for the benefit of the community.

In the same spirit, the Mayor of Birao Sultan Amgabo expressed gratitude to the Zambian blue helmets for their continued support. He said that the residents of Vakaga were able to engage in agriculture thanks to the safe and secure environment that the UN peacekeepers help ensure. He further lauded the ZAMBATT Female Engagement Team for empowering the local women of Birao, Am-Dafock and other areas through providing them with capital for income-generating activities.

Bessan Vikou, the head of the MINUSCA office in Birao, congratulated ZAMBATT for coming to the aid of the vulnerable family while highlighting the joint efforts of the Mission and the local leadership to improve the quality of life of the population in their area of responsibility.

ZAMBATT contingent commander, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Sapezo, said that the contingent’s chaplaincy department actively conducts community outreach programmes which are aimed at “taking charity work closer to the people”. The Minusca Force conducts monthly patrols during which it checks on the welfare of the Tongoushi family members, who were abandoned by their relatives and lack any means to sustain themselves. The family is regularly supported with food items, clothing and medicine courtesy of both the contingent’s Female Engagement Team and chaplaincy. Significantly, the ZAMBATT chaplaincy has also footed the bill for the child’s schooling for this year.