Obert and his wife, Boimbona, were away from home doing farmwork when armed groups raided their village of Bozango in March 2013. It was a month that saw increased violence in the ongoing conflict that has affected the Central African Republic (CAR), including a coup against the country’s government in Bangui.
Obert and Boimbona’s five children, aged 3 to 13, were at home when the attack occurred. As it was not safe to return to Bozango in the aftermath, Obert and Boimbona had no means to locate their children, or to even confirm they were still alive.
Still, they searched.
With support from the United States Agency for International Development, Plan International and War Child launched a project to identify children—like Obert and Boimbona’s—affected by violence and, where possible, trace and re-unite them with their closest relatives.
With no home to return to, Obert and Boimbona traveled in search of their missing children, from Berberati, to Bouca, and finally to Bangui, the capital of CAR. After arriving in Bangui still with no information, they settled into a new reality of a changed family, one without any children.
Unbeknownst to Boimbona and Obert, their children were able to escape the violence that engulfed Bozango. They traveled a safe distance away from the village with their neighbors, who later sent the children to live with their uncle Mathias about 75 km away in Bolangba. Mathias, Obert’s brother, had also been searching for Obert and Boimbona following the attack. However, Mathias had few resources to conduct the search, as well as family obligations of his own to attend to. Progress was slow.
Still, Plan’s project provided crucial food and non-food support to Mathias, as well as information to be used in his search for Obert and Boimbona.
Eventually, Obert and Boimbona were successfully located in April 2016.Together, they traveled from Bangui to Bolangba to see their children for the first time in three years.
Upon first arriving in Bolangba, both Obert and Boimbona were “filled with tears of joy and grateful for this opportunity to see their dear children again.”
Mathias’s neighbors gathered to witness the moment and have welcomed Boimbona and Obert to their community. Now that it is safe to return to Bozango, the family plans to go back home and establish a new life. Since September, 2015, the project has done work tracing work and providing food and non-food items in temporary families for 250 children. There have been 170 children who have been reuinited with their families through the project.