This past Christmas was a suspended Christmas. Due to the limitations on travel in Italy and between the various countries, many found themselves spending this day away from loved ones and very often stuck in the city where they live and work.
But what is it like to spend Christmas in Africa at this time during the elections? The stories come to us 8from the through the voice of colleagues in the field.
“It’s hot these days, the temperature reaches 35 degrees, we are in the dry season, only a few occasional showers remind us of the rainy season that has just passed, heat and red dust fill the streets of the capital. Ours is a “short-sleeved” Christmas, without coats, without scarves, without fireplace, there is no white of the snow but only the white of the health workers who work at the Bangui Pediatric Complex, a hospital for children only, it is the only one in Central Africa where CUAMM has been working for a few years. ” says Filippo Pistolesi, who arrived in Bangui a few days before Christmas, who spent his Christmas in quarantine using technology as a bridge to connect Italy to Africa, but also to communicate with colleagues, who live in his own home.
In the Central African Republic it was a special Christmas, not only for the restrictions imposed by Covid-19, but also for the tense electoral climate that crystallized the country in the weeks leading up to the elections, held on December 27.
“December 27 was Election Day, to put it in the American way. The date had hovered over our heads for weeks now. The silence was surreal; you could not hear a fly flying, you could hear the sound of your breath… a sensation perceived more at night, not suitable for a hot sunny day at 10 in the morning. Then some children went out to play in the opposite compound, a rooster crowing, someone hoeing… it seemed more like a Sunday like any other.
In recent weeks, there have been clashes in many parts of the country, the armed groups of the former dictator Bozizé have brought chaos and violence, and above all fear, to the people who still have in their eyes and hearts the destruction perpetrated by the militias in the past.
Now we are all waiting for news, to know what will become of Central Africa and its people, if these elections will have any validity and will maintain the stability, albeit precarious, of the country or will create an institutional gap that will leave room for an even more serious destabilization.” tells Daniela Ramadani, project administrator for Doctors with Africa CUAMM in Central African Republic.
A different Christmas that of Bangui, which in any case smells of hope especially at the pediatric hospital that Doctors with Africa has been running since July 2018, where despite the pandemic and the tension for the elections at Christmas, children’s beds are filled with small bags of rice, some biscuits and pieces of soap. There are no shiny toys and plastic superheroes down here, the only superheroes are them, the hospitalized children, and perhaps the greatest gift is being able to witness the dignity and determination with which they face treatment.