On December 1st the Central African Republic celebrated 50 years of independence. Our town of Baboua is small (only 16,000 people), but the parade lasted over an hour. It was complete with military raising the flag, cheerleaders (see photo above), and baton twirlers. Children and adults from all the schools in town marched by: first the preschools, then the elementary schools all the way up to the Bible School and Seminary. There was even a Tae Kwon Do demonstration and motorcyclists performing circus style acrobatics.
People here are proud of their country and their independence, even though the country is racked by numerous problems. Most people are subsistence farmers living on less than a dollar a day. Over half the children do not go to school. Less than half the people do not have potable water. Only about ten percent have improved sanitation. Health care is marginal, with thousands dying of malaria and other preventable diseases each year. There are armed rebels in the eastern part of the country, near the border with Sudan.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and their partner, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the CAR are here doing what they can to improve health, provide education, and promote development. Your support means that you are here helping people struggle forward so that the next fifty years will be better than the past.
Joe and Deborah Troester
Baboua, Central African Republic
Photo: Cheerleaders celebrating on December 1 in the National Day parade in Baboua, western CAR.
Joe and Deborah Troester are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, the Central African Republic. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides clean drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation to villagers. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua. Their daughter, Christa, attends Rain Forest International School in Yaounde, Cameroon.