The Day We Will Dance: Sylvie in the Central African Republic

Illustration of Sylvie in the Central African Republic. Credit : Sophie Le Hire

The series The Day We Will Dance is illustrated by the artist Sophie Le Hire

“Armed groups choose their target. The coronavirus, if it comes to Batangafo, will destroy everything that remains on its path. "

My name is Sylvie, I am 31 years old. I live with my husband and five children (two girls and three boys) in my neighborhood in Batangafo, not far from the site of the displaced people where we lived for a year. The past few years of conflict have left little infrastructure and many people displaced. 

To make a living, we do farming work. I am also a volunteer in a community protection committee in Batangafo, supported by Oxfam. 

When armed groups burned my house in November 2017, I lost everything. At the IDP site, I saw women and girls scared to fetch water or go to the fields for fear of being assaulted or raped on the way. 

I joined the community protection committee because I wanted to support the victims. We organize awareness-raising on the rights of women and children and we help victims of sexual or physical violence. Most of the cases are rapes, accusations of witchcraft on old mamas, or young boys tortured by armed groups. We refer them to the hospital, follow up, and make sure they are not stigmatized. 

One day, my little brother came home with Aimé *, a 26-year-old boy. I knew he was in one of the armed groups, so I started talking to him. He took up arms in revenge after his parents were killed by armed groups. Three years later, when he was out of the bush, I helped him realize that even his five younger siblings were afraid of him. It made him sad, and he didn't want to die in a fight like some of his friends. He therefore laid down his arms and continues to come every week to the awareness sessions of the community protection committee. I hope it will serve as an example to other young fighters who are reluctant to return to the city. 

My niece was raped last year. It has to stop! I no longer want to see the suffering of women. I want peace to return to Batangafo. And in CAR, my country. 

Interview by Aurélie Godet, Oxfam in the Central African Republic. 

Discover the other stories of the series The Day We Will Dance

Read the story of Rosalie the Central African Republic

                         "The coronavirus scares me, but it's not going to last forever. I remain confident." 

Read the story of Victorine* in Burkina Faso

                                       “The day I hear that this disease is over, we will dance."

*Name has been changed to protect the identity 

Read the story of Mariam* in Burkina Faso

                          "Behind us, there are attacks, in front of us is the disease. How will we cope?"

*Name has been changed to protect the identity 

Read the story of Halima in Niger

                      “Pregnant women kept falling and getting up. We have lost sight of our children."

Read the story of Tedy in Mali

"I want my children to get an education worthy of the name, to be one day part of the elite in this country. " 

Introduction and creative process