February 2nd, 2017 — The Search for Common Ground office in Bangui was honored to receive the visit of the U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic, H.E. Jeffrey Hawkins. The Ambassador visited Search’s office, discussed Search’s programming and the current context in CAR, and participated in a social cohesion activity in PK5, a Muslim-majority area in Bangui. He was accompanied by Ms. Jillian Christie from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.
The visit started with a 20-minute discussion with our Country Director, Mr. Thomas-Paul Banze. The Ambassador was interested in learning more about Search. He mentioned the importance of maintaining a long-term presence in the country and highlighted the instability of the context in which our team works. “We need people like you in the Central African Republic,” he said.
The Ambassador also visited our radio studio, mentioning that he would gladly participate in one of our radio programs. Then, we visited the PK5 district to assist to one of our activities for social cohesion, a basketball game between youth from PK5 and Yakité. This activity is part of the project Engaging Youth and Community Leaders to Prevent Mass Atrocities in Central African Republic.
Around 650 people gathered to watch the game. In addition to the Ambassador and our Country Director, a representative from the National Assembly, the Mayor if the Third District of Bangui, and a religious leader gave short speeches.
The Ambassador thanked us for organizing this activity and emphasized the role of social cohesion to attain peace. The Mayor pointed to the fact that bringing together youth from different districts is rare; he mentioned that they should follow the example of solidarity and camaraderie set on that day. After the game, the Mayor and our Country Director concluded the event with a speech and offered a small gift to the players.
Visit our Central African Republic page to learn more about our work.