After Riad, 20, lost his leg in a shooting, he feared that he could not care for his family. Today, with the help of Humanity & Inclusion’s psychosocial support, physical therapy and a new prosthetic leg, he can’t wait to show his family what he can do.
On February 15, Riad and his family heard gunfire outside of their house in the Central African Republic. The shooting continued for hours, so they fled in search of safety. Like many others, they sought refuge in a mosque in Bambari. But their safety was short-lived, as gunmen soon entered and opened fire on the families inside, taking several innocent lives. Riad was shot twice, once in his left ankle and once in his right leg. He lay wounded on the ground until the next day, too afraid to seek help until then. By the time he was taken to the hospital, his injury had become so severe that his right leg was amputated 21 days later.
The operation was a success, but Riad worried about the future. He lives with his mother, his siblings and their children in Bambari. His greatest fear after losing his leg was that he would not be able to take care of his family. After the amputation, Humanity & Inclusion psychosocial specialists helped him overcome his fears, cope with the pain, and start adjusting to life with a disability.
Always accompanied by his older brother, Riad has been attending physical therapy with Humanity & Inclusion specialists twice a week in Bambari. Ready for an artificial leg, Humanity & Inclusion recently paid for the brothers to visit the Central African Republic’s only fitting center in Bangui.
“I can’t wait to receive my prosthesis,” Riad said during his fittings. “I hope to be able to walk again and take care of my mother. I’ll be able to go get food and spend my day working outside of the house. I think I’ll feel brave again.”
After a week of casts and learning to walk again, Riad received his new prosthetic leg.
“I used to look at my leg and cry, but now I feel stronger,” he says. “I feel that I will have less to worry about from now on and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from HI, from my amputation until now. I can stand up and walk again. I can’t wait to show my family!”
Header image: Riad practices walking with his new artificial leg at a fitting center in Bangui. Inline image: Riad and his brother at a rehabilitation center in Bambari. Copyright: A. Servant/HI
An evangelist by trade, Zoumatchi was unable to work after a gunshot wound caused him to lose his left leg.
Zoumatchi is a 48-year-old father of four children. He was shot while working in Bangui during the 2014 crisis in the Central African Republic. After his leg was amputated at a community hospital, he returned home to his family in Bambari.
“I was in a very difficult position,” Zoumatchi says. “I was in a lot of pain, and I had difficulty getting around. For years I felt that I was useless.”
In September 2020, he started treatment with Humanity & Inclusion teams in Bambari. By November, he was ready to receive an artificial leg.
Zoumatchi went to Bangui to be fitted at the rehabilitation center (ANRAC), a project supported by Humanity & Inclusion. In December, he began rehabilitation with Humanity & Inclusion physical therapy assistants William and Peggy. As the sessions progressed, Zoumatchi regained his walking ability and experienced less pain. With his crutches, he is finally able to walk in neighborhoods all over Bambari.
“Over the past few days, I’m proud to say that I can even walk short distances without my crutches,” Zoumatchi says. “I’m so happy. Now that I can walk again, I can continue my work spreading messages of peace and love.”
Humanity & Inclusion staff member Jimmy Müller Baguimala Kobé offers a glimpse into life on the logistics team during conflict in the Central African Republic.
Jimmy Müller Baguimala Kobé is not your average delivery guy. He delivers life-saving goods in a life-threatening environment. While it may be said that “neither snow, nor rain, nor heat” can stop the postal service, for Jimmy and his colleagues “neither heat, nor armed conflict, nor land mines” can stop their vital work.
Jimmy is a logistics officer for Humanity & Inclusion in the Central African Republic (CAR), based in Bangui, where millions of people and numerous NGOs depend on him and his team to deliver essential supplies amid tense and dangerous internal conflict.
“We transport goods for humanitarian aid throughout the country. This includes medicine, kits of essential items, and coal to fuel generators in hospitals without electricity. It is extremely important to have this delivery system in place because the people need supplies, and so many organizations and NGOs providing aid here are not able to transport these items on their own. They come to us, and we make sure it gets to the [communities] for them. I love the work I do because it does such a huge service to the population.” —Jimmy Müller Baguimala Kobé, Logistics Officer for Humanity & Inclusion
Already considered one of the poorest countries in the world, a recent blockade at the border has forced the CAR to depend on surrounding countries for goods, causing prices to skyrocket. More than 2 million people are experiencing dangerous levels of food insecurity and rely heavily on humanitarian aid to meet their needs.
“Safety is a major concern,” Jimmy explains. “Some of the internal roads are finally starting to open back up, but they are dangerous, which can block trucks and slow down road deliveries. There have been several serious incidents recently where vehicles were set on fire. Mines are also a problem, causing both injuries and deaths.”
Transportation in this context is already difficult due to fragmented infrastructure and security threats, but movement is even more constrained by Covid-19 restrictions. This further isolates the people disproportionately affected by crisis such as children, aging people, women and people with disabilities.
“The population is experiencing a terrible crisis and urgently needs humanitarian intervention, and the work we’re doing makes that possible,” Jimmy says. “We are asking our supporters to continue helping us bring this aid to every part of the country. These goods are essential in order for help to continue, and for the benefit of the people.”
While Jimmy recognizes the immense value in his work, he ultimately hopes for an end to the conflict and a return to a time where these efforts are no longer necessary.
“I wish with all my heart that things would go back to normal. I don’t want to relive the situation we’ve been in,” he says. “For now, people are depending on us.”
Header image: The Humanity & Inclusion logistics team delivers a truckload of supplies in the Central African Republic in November 2020. Copyright: Adrienne Surprenant/HI; Inline image: Portrait of Jimmy Müller Baguimala Kobé. Copyright: HI
In 2017, Humanity & Inclusion transported 8,590 tons of goods to some of the most isolated corners of Central African Republic (CAR), a country that has been devastated by decades of violence and instability.
On the Human Development Index, CAR ranks at the bottom. Nowhere else in the world are the challenges to life and dignity so prevalent. Sixty-seven percent of the mainly rural population lives on less than a dollar a day and just 30% have access to clean water. An armed insurgency that began in 2012 has resulted in the severe deterioration of the country’s infrastructure.
Delivering humanitarian assistance such as food and medicine is a major logistical challenge, particularly as most people live in remote areas. Roads are poorly maintained, communication networks are unreliable, and many areas are too dangerous to travel. This means that large areas of the country are only accessible by air.
Our teams have taken on a coordination role in the county in order to improve logistics for all humanitarian associations trying to reach those in need. One of the first priorities is to restore airfields and landing strips in remote areas so that humanitarian flights can land safely. We work with local communities to manage repairs and maintenance, such as filling potholes and clearing vegetation.
Our logistics team coordinates deliveries by air, pooling together the goods to be sent in order to improve efficiency. HI manages the schedules, security checks, and loading of humanitarian cargo planes from Bangui M’Poko airport and coordinates safe arrival.
Since January 2016, Handicap International has worked to ensure that the most vulnerable people in Central African Republic receive the life-saving, life-enabling aid they need after three years of acute crisis. In a country where disease is rife, infrastructure is lacking, and half the population (2.3 million people) is in “dire need of assistance,” Handicap International’s logistics expertise fills a crucial gap, allowing humanitarian organizations to deliver aid the extra mile, despite sometimes harrowing road conditions. Cyril Chérie, Handicap International’s logistics project manager in Bangui, recently took time to tell us more.Read more