When armed groups attacked her village in March 2016, Geena, a widowed mother of six, fled with her family into the surrounding bush. They cut down bamboo leaves for bedding and ate forest leaves and roots they dug up by hand.
Geena knew that all that waited for them back home was violence and death, so she hid with her family for four months, determined to survive.
A nation in conflict
The Central African Republic (CAR) has been unstable since independence from France in 1960, with its most recent violent crisis starting in 2013, when a coalition of armed groups seized power. Turmoil raged, people were killed or maimed, and homes, villages and livelihoods were destroyed.
A massive 2.6 million people are now reliant on humanitarian support for their survival.
The fighting eventually moved on from Geena’s village to another part of the country, and she and her neighbours came out of hiding. They found their homes damaged or destroyed, belongings gone, crops wiped out and livestock dead. Everything they had worked for and relied upon was gone.
Geena and her community were struggling to recover when Tearfund started skills training in her village. Giving people the knowledge, equipment and confidence needed to get back on their feet and work towards a better future has led to inspiring results...
Geena learned improved farming techniques, and was given seeds as well as tools to replace those lost during the fighting. She and her family now grow corn and peanuts, providing them with nutritious food to eat, as well as produce to sell at the local market for income.
Geena is full of joy and confident that she can now earn and save enough money to enable her children to attend school, as well as work towards buying new livestock. She is filled with hope for the future.
A Christmas gift
Christmas is a precious time for all of us. A time when we often reflect on these amazing words from Isaiah. ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned... For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ (Isaiah 9:2, 5–6)
Read anytime, these words are powerful. But read alongside stories like that of Geena from the CAR, they are especially moving. This Christmas we are asking churches across the country if they will pray, and consider taking up an offering to bring light into the darkness for people like Geena. This is a unique opportunity as all the gifts made to this appeal will be matched by the UK government.
Today, life for Geena is very different to those months hidden away in the bush. She has big plans for the future, and she says, ‘I want to give a lot of thanks. Let God give you strength over strength so that you could be always willing to help other people ahead.’
A prayer to use in your church as well as your personal prayers
We pray for all those who are facing deep darkness.
We pray especially for the people of the Central African Republic whose lives have been devastated by conflict and poverty.
We pray for the Tearfund staff and church partners doing all they can to empower them to rebuild their lives.
We thank and praise you that, out of your great love, you sent your Son, Jesus, the Prince of peace, to be the Saviour of all.
May your light dawn upon those who today walk in darkness, and enable us to be channels of your grace, mercy and hope.
Thank you for your prayers. If you feel led to give as a church to our Christmas appeal you can visit www.tearfund.org/Geena to sign up and order your giving envelopes.
We pray because we're desperate for God - to walk with him... in step with his will for the world.
Join our global poverty prayer movement. Go here for more information