Learn to Live: London schoolchildren meet Bangui friends via video message

‘It’s good we have seen them now and they have written back to us ... They are human so they are going to be like us’

Anna Davis
Friday 19 October 2018 17:04 BST
Students at Francis Barber Referral Unit in Wandsworth examine fabrics sent by children from Bangui
Students at Francis Barber Referral Unit in Wandsworth examine fabrics sent by children from Bangui (Jeremy Selwyn)

London schoolchildren have come face to face with refugees living in the Central African Republic (CAR) as part of our Learn to Live campaign.

Students from the Francis Barber Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in Wandsworth saw the faces of young people from Bangui, the capital of the CAR, after the two schools swapped videos of themselves.

The pupils have been linked as part of our groundbreaking school twinning project which is designed to promote tolerance and understanding between children from vastly different backgrounds.

Young people from the Francis Barber PRU kicked off the twinning by sending questions and videos to their counterparts in Africa, and this week they received a response.

The group from Francis Barber watched as the CAR children performed a song for them, and told them about their lives. They listened as Stephanie, one of the pupils who was featured in The Independent this week, spoke about her life. Stephanie was just 12 when she had to flee from militia in the Central African Republic. She witnessed the men chasing a local tribal leader and shooting him dead in the street in front of her.

She found sanctuary in a church with her family and other people and slept there for months as priests and nuns negotiated with the militia leaders to spare them.

Now aged 18, Stephanie attends an education programme called VoiceMore, which is run by War Child, our partner charity on the Learn to Live campaign.

Here she gets an education, as well as help to address the mental scars left by what she and the other children there have been through. She and her friends at this War Child education centre are now learning more about their “twins” from Wandsworth.

Kira, 14, a pupil at Francis Barber, said: “Seeing their faces made me feel like everything we have in the UK we take for granted. It made me look at things with a different perspective. Seeing the videos and letters makes me feel a personal connection to them.

“Next I would like to speak to them on FaceTime.”


The pupils from Bangui also sent the London children some brightly coloured cloth from their country. The London children are using it in their art class to create a patchwork map of the Central African Republic.

Jay, 13 said: “It is like being pen pals. It’s good we have seen them now and they have written back to us.

“When we first wrote our questions to them it didn’t feel that real. It must be hard for them to express their feelings but it is good because they are telling people what they are going through.

“I would like the children in CAR to learn our names and speak to us individually on FaceTime. We would feel even closer to them then.

“I have learnt about what music they like and their food, where they live, and what type of things they do while they are there, and the language that they speak. They are human so they are going to be like us.”

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