So in 2009, after signing a contract to be the teacher at a Hand-in-Hand orphan school, I moved my wife and our 6 children (3 boys and 3 girls) to the village of Gaga. I taught in the morning and sewed clothes in the afternoon to earn a living.
Then in 2012, the Seleka (an alliance of rebel militia factions that eventually overthrew the government in CAR) raided Gaga and destroyed every single thing we owned. Everyone in the village ran to the bush for safety. All we had left were the clothes on our backs.
Once my family was safe, I wanted to return to Gaga to help Pastor Boundolo, who had stayed behind. When I got back to the village, the Seleka had beaten him and tried to shoot him in the chest, but the bullet only went through his thigh. We found someone to take him to the hospital in Yaloke on a motorcycle. For 5 hours the Seleka destroyed Gaga and killed many people.
I then ran the 37 kilometers (approximately 23 miles) back to Yaloke along with many others. Every time we heard a motorcycle, we dove flat to the ground to hide in the tall grass, knowing it was likely the Seleka. Many were killed along the road.
Wanting to finish what they'd started, some Seleka returned to the hospital in Yaloke looking for Pastor Boundolo. So I took him to the village of LaDoumie (45 kilometers/30 miles to the South), where my wife was raised.
While there I saw the Seleka shoot and kill Valery, my friend and fellow teacher at the LaDoumie school. I cried and wanted to run out to him, but was held back by others and forced to wait until after dark to retrieve his body.
Pastor Boundolo stayed at LaDoumie for only 3 months. He was the first person to return to Gaga. His courage gave others the strength to begin returning as well. I did not want to come back but remembered the promise I had made to do God's work among orphans.
I kept asking myself, “How am I going to survive? What will I do to provide for my family? How will we live when we have nothing?” I was very discouraged.
Pastor Boundolo told me to stop worrying. He said, “Aren’t you doing God’s work? Didn’t you make a promise? Doesn’t God always provide?” So I determined to honor my promise.
Soon after that, some women in the village brought my wife a cooking pot and other little pots, along with a coffee cup. And the mother of one of my previous students came from Yaloke bringing each member of my family three sets of clothes.
To me, these were signs that God was taking care of us. After the pastor talked to me and villagers helped us, I changed.
Now I teach school in the morning and rent a sewing machine for $10 a month to do tailoring in the afternoons. God is providing.
This last year was really great with no problems. When we started school many people were still living in the bush, afraid to return to the village. Pastor Boundolo went to each family encouraging them to come back so their children could attend school. Many caregivers were very cautious but as the year progressed, they saw how well things were going. I believe more kids will return to school this year.
Please pray for the village of Gaga to be restored, and that we can rebuild the school.
Photo: Pastor Boundolo and his wife of the church in Gaga.
Story by Yalimon Saint Junior