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Congolese Aid Worker Reaches Out With Seeds in Central African Republic


A young Congolese man,, uses his education and his own experience growing up in a war to help others survive in a war-torn corner of Africa. What Aime Balagizi does seems simple -- he distributes seeds and hoes for planting. The work is grueling and he says the sacrifices are great, but that so are the the rewards for those displaced by war in Chad, the Central African Republic and Sudan. In this installment of VOA's Making a Difference, Correspondent Nico Colombant caught up with Balagizi in Birao, in the Central African Republic, near the border with Darfur.

Aime Baligizi, Humanitarian worker and seed sower. Birao is a barren place, cut off from much of the rest of the world in a region overrun by conflict, banditry and displaced people.

At the crossroads of Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic, this village was ravaged by fighting between Central African rebels and soldiers last year.

Congolese 29-year-old Aime Baligizi is one of several aid workers trying to help the locals and the 300 Darfurian refugees who now live here.

He recruited and directs a group of local workers for the French aid group called Triangle.

Today, they are preparing to give out seeds, and also food rations for about 900 families.

Baligizi calls out women from a particular area of Birao who have been selected for distribution, while their neighborhood chief checks everyone's identity.

"We need to show them that we may be giving them food but we will not giving it all the time, which means they also have to produce something for their families and the future," he said.

The work on this day is quickly interrupted by rain. Baligizi, though, has prepared for this.

"They will not move. They will be waiting," Baligizi said. "They have got a place to stay and they will be waiting for the rain to stop."

When he takes seeds and food outside of Birao, Baligizi says the pickup truck he uses sometimes gets stuck in mud, and he continues on foot.

Afternoons, when the work is done, Baligizi brings a few soccer balls to a local dirt field to play with young children, some of them refugees from the nearby Darfur conflict.

He says, it is important to bring happiness to lives shattered by violence.

Baligizi, himself, fled violence from his home region, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. He says with the help of many others, he found the determination to study in Uganda and in Europe.

He says he feels he has an advantage here over many other humanitarians.

"I am working with my fellow Africans here in Birao. Sometimes I just feel like I am working in the DRC," he said. "There are cultures, social values that you have to respect and just do your job in a way that respects everybody. I think it is easy as an African to be working in Africa."

Baligizi lives in a barren room, but he says, his own situation is not that important, when there are so many people who need help just to survive.

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