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Musician Gives Voice to Struggles in Central African Republic

FILE - Ozaguin, a singer-songwriter, is considered the most popular in the Central African Republic. (L. Schlein/VOA). Ozaguin recently visited the U.N.’s European headquarters in Geneva to awaken the world to the struggles faced by his country.
Musician Gives Voice to Struggles in Central African Republic
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Ozaguin is one of the most popular singer-songwriters in the Central African Republic. Recently, he went to the United Nations’ European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland to make the world pay attention to the struggles in his country. The Central African Republic has had a civil war since 2012.

Ozaguin sings about the difficulties his people face. He sings about the search for food in a country where insecurity prevents people from farming and harvesting their crops. He sings about people fleeing to escape the violence of armed groups. And he sings about the terrible things people will do in order to feed their families.

Ozaguin says he was forced to quit school to earn money for his family. He was the only person able to support his mother and four younger sisters. He tells VOA there were no jobs in the Central African Republic, so he went to Brazzaville, Congo in search of work.

Ozaguin says no one would offer him a job because he was too young and too small. He says he spent four years as a homeless street child. What saved him, he says, was his music.

He adds that his difficult experience also led him to create an organization to help homeless young people.

The musician notes that money raised through his concerts helps support 32 homeless children. That number includes 10 Muslim children who live in a separate district in Bangui. He explains Muslims and Christians live in separate areas in the capital. He says he is working to end this separation and to bring the two communities together.

The United Nations calls the Central African Republic a forgotten crisis. War has displaced more than one million of the country’s five million people. Nearly half that number are refugees in neighboring countries.

The World Food Program (WFP) reports that more than 1.8 million people are suffering from serious food shortages. WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says these people do not know where their next meal will come from.

He says the World Food Program supplies food to 600,000 people a month. He says the agency would like to increase that number to 800,000 but needs to raise $35.5 million by the end of the year.

Until then, Ozaguin says he will continue to raise his voice in song for the people of the Central African Republic.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Lisa Schlein reported this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.