The testimony of Farah*, 26 years old, patient, at the Gbaya Ndombia maternity in the highly insecure PK5 district of Bangui.

I live in the PK5 district of Bangui. I am the mother of 4 children who are six, five, three, and the youngest was born one week ago.

I gave birth at the Gbaya Ndombia maternity in the afternoon of the 30 October 2016. The birth went very well. Afterward, I was transferred to a room to rest. I was there with my sisters when suddenly we heard gunshots.


 A midwife does an exam on a woman who has just given birth in the post-partum room of the Gbaya Ndombia maternity clinic. Photo: 
Sandra Smiley/MSF

I wondered what was happening. I then heard someone knocking on the gate, and then the wounded people started streaming in. There were lots of them, and they were everywhere. All the beds were occupied except mine. I was scared.

They were screaming and bleeding. I heard that a moto-taxi driver had been killed, so I left the room where I was to check that it wasn’t my brother, who drives a moto-taxi. The bodies had been placed in a small room off the hallway. Thankfully my brother wasn’t one of them. But it was terrible. When I looked in, I got dizzy and nearly fainted.

After that, the midwives asked us to leave the room where we had been resting to spare us the sight of what was happening. The injured people were transferred elsewhere, and once the room had been cleaned, we were able to go back in. But after that, it was hard to relax. I am still getting over the experience.

The insecurity is permanent in this neighborhood. Gunshots can often be heard, and every two or three days there is a fight. People get into an argument and then they pull out their weapons, and the person who has the most powerful one is the winner.

Weapons are everywhere. Everyone has one, not just the bandits. Even good, honest people have an arm to protect themselves.

My family and I are Muslim and we moved from another neighborhood to live here in PK5 a few years ago. Now we can no longer leave. Still today it is not possible for us to live and feel safe in another neighborhood of the city.

We have nowhere else to go, but I am disgusted by the place where I live. I worry about my children. What will happen to them? Sometimes they can’t even do to school because of the insecurity.

Life is going to be hard for them. My hope is that my children can go to school and that we can raise our kids in a good environment. I just want peace in this country, and here in PK5.

 

In January of 2016, the Gbaya Ndombia maternity unit in the PK5 district of Bangui opened with the objective of offering quality healthcare to women and their babies. Gbaya Ndombia and the Castors maternity, both run by MSF, are the only health facilities in Bangui that offer free maternal healthcare, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Gbaya Ndombia maternity is the only maternity clinic in the PK5 district of town.

As well as maternal health care, the MSF team at Gbaya Ndombia maternity proposes family planning consultations, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, and medical and psychosocial care for victims of violence. The staff is also trained in emergency and trauma case management. Since opening in January 2016, the maternity has had to deal with nine mass casualty events.

 In the first six months of 2016, the MSF teams assisted at 250 births, treated 26 victims of sexual violence and carried out 1 800 family planning consultations.

 

Find out more about MSF's work in the Central African Republic.