Central African Republic: One Teacher Goes Against the Tide

Elaine from the Central African Republic writes: “I’m a teacher in a Catholic primary school. Ever since I became acquainted with the spirituality of unity I’ve felt it my duty to put the Gospel into practice even when it means going against the tide, against the common or popular ways of doing things.

When our country was threatened by guerrilla warfare, I presented the Time Out for Peace to my students. This is a moment of prayer during which people around the world pause to ask for the gift of peace in war torn areas and in the hearts of all people. So now we pause each day and pray for peace.”

The school children commonly purchase chalk from their teachers, which they then use for writing on wooden boards. Eliane gives the chalk to her students freely, while another teacher charges them 25 francs, which she uses to buy her lunch each day. Noticing Eliane’s approach, this colleague asked her the reason for her generosity: “I tried to make her understand that it wasn’t correct to force the children to pay for chalk, because children deserve justice, and also because Jesus says: “Insofar as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

The studies prefect learned of Elaine’s lifestyle and asked her about it. “A short time later” Elaine recounts, “he and his wife asked me to be godmother of their youngest daughter. I joyfully accepted and now I feel truly part of their family.”

Elaine’s colleagues later proposed her as a candidate for personnel representative under the supervision of the Labour Inspector. She now carries out this role of both mediation and supervision of the smooth running of the school and respecting of rights and duties.

The women involved in this group also decided to pray the Time Out. Elaine concludes: “Now, many voices are raised in asking for peace not only in Central Africa, but in the whole world.”

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