Child protection: getting counselling, learning new skills

A child friendly space in Kaga Bandoro (not featured in the story.) Photo: OCHA

CAR | 2023 | CBPF

CAR, Ouham-Pende. Like many communities in the Ouham-Pende region of the Central African Republic, the villages of Bikanga, Bossanbina and Sangrélim have faced years of armed conflict, which has driven displacement, disrupted social structures, and left families struggling to get enough food.

One in five Central Africans is either internally displaced or has fled abroad due to the ongoing violence. Children are particularly at risk and need additional protection.

Child protection and psychosocial support

In Bakouma, with funding from the CAR Humanitarian Fund, local organization Esperance has been addressing urgent child protection needs. They help children and young people who have left armed groups or survived other forms of violence to access mental health counselling and practical livelihoods training.

Similarly, in Bikanga and neighboring villages, national women-led organization, AFPE, with funding from the OCHA-managed CAR Humanitarian Fund, invested in improving community-based protection services, including for example, safe spaces for women, child protection committees, and community watch groups to identify and resolve protection issues.

A key focus has been on children who were previously associated with armed groups and are now trying to return to normal life. Fifty children joined classes teaching them vocational and business skills, based on their interests and what the community needs. “I’m happy with what I’m learning now, I think it will help me in the future,” said Noel*, a young participant.

Another young woman built up a soap-making business, selling to neighbours so that she could support herself and her children.

Overall, some 13,000 children and young people in the area benefitted from these child protection services. For young people and children who have lived through extreme circumstances, it is a small step toward normalcy and recovery – and hope.

*Names have been changed.

For more information on the CAR Humanitarian Fund.