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In Bangui, Father Sells Tea To Support His Displaced Family

In the Central African Republic, WFP is providing food assistance to thousands of people who have fled the renewed violence in December. Distributions are taking place in hospitals, orphanages, churches and mosques - wherever people take refuge. Wilfred Feizoure, a father of two, was one recent recipient. But he is far from passive. He is doing what he can to support his family in this chaotic time. 

Bangui, Central African Republic - Wilfred Feizoure’s life has been turned upside down. But the father-of-two is trying to restore some order to his personal chaos by selling much-needed cups of tea in a church compound, where he was forced to flee with his family at the beginning of December. 

"At about 3 o’clock in the morning, I heard some gunshots. I thought it was not a big deal because this happens very often these days. But then I heard people crying in a compound next to mine,” the 28-year-old, from the Doloko neighbourhood in the capital Bangui, said.

That was 5 December when armed gangs went on the rampage in Bangui, killing around 1,000 people, according to Human Rights Watch, and displacing more than 200,000 people.

Feizoure soon realized he was witnessing a new round of horror in a country where violence has intensified in recent weeks. 

“I saw armed men knocking at the doors, one after another, beating people, looting houses and shops, and killing young men. As I tried to figure out what was going on, I saw three people shot dead in front of our compound. That forced me to leave the area at once,” said Feizoure. 

He and his family sought refuge in the Saint Joseph Mukasa church, two kms south of Bangui’s international airport and now home to around 12,000 people. Feizoure left his home with very little as most of the family’s goods were looted by the attackers.

In a bid to provide for his children, and offer some comfort to other families forced to seek shelter in the church grounds, Feizoure, who had been a student at the Technical Centre for Rural Development, decided to sell tea and coffee. 

He still had a cooking pot, a small wooden table and a few tea cups. He also had 750 Central African CFA francs (about US$ 2) and with that he bought a handful of green tea leaves and one kg of sugar. 

Cupful of Warmth

As the sun climbed into the sky on a recent Wednesday, people queued in front of his table to buy the sweet, warm tea.

“These men and women have been sleeping all night in the open air with little protection from dust and cold. I am offering them a cup of hot tea and coffee to warm them up,” said Feizoure. 

However, the money he earns is still not enough to secure food for his children in a city divided by armed gangs, even if he did feel confident enough to leave the relative safety of the church compound. Across CAR, food prices are high and volatile because of the disruption to markets. 

The very next day, Feizoure was among thousands of people at the church compound who received food rations from WFP, which is working to distribute assistance across this fractured city under very tense and complex security conditions.

At the Mukasa site, WFP distributed maize meal, split peas and vegetable oil to cover families’ immediate needs for 10 days. So far in December, WFP and its partners have distributed nearly 500 tons of food to more than 118,000 people in Bangui.

WFP is scaling up its emergency response to provide more than 1 million people with life-saving food support over the next six months. WFP assists refugees and internally displaced persons, and also carries out nutrition activities for women, children and people affected by HIV, as well as school meals programmes and livelihood projects. It also provides safety nets for the most vulnerable.

Feizoure prays day-and-night for peace and stability to be restored so that he can return home and resume his studies.