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BANGUI, April 21, 2017: After fighting between armed Christian and Muslim groups displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the Central African Republic in 2013 and 2014, five Christian and Muslim youths returned to their homeland late last year and brought back with them something new to the country – capoeira, a Brazilian martial art combining dance, music and acrobatics.
“We, the youth, studied capoeira a lot in the camp since we didn’t have school or anything like that,” explained Vicky Nelson Wackoro, who sought refuge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for three years. “And the capoeira for the people, it was the only means of entertainment.”
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Wackoro had only previously seen capoeira in movies.
“I didn’t really know what capoeira was,” he said. “It was my first time of practicing it in my life.”
Wackoro and a group of other Central African refugees received scholarships to study capoeira at an association in Kinshasa for three months. While there, Wackoro achieved Level 5 Orange Cord.
When Wackoro and four of his fellow capoeira students returned to their homeland in November, they formed an association to share the martial art and its message of tolerance with their fellow citizens.
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“It’s become a passion for us,” said Oussein Christian, who is the group’s president. “We really like that.”
They volunteer at the local Fondation Voix du Coeur orphanage, teaching the martial art to about 100 children every weekend. They practice in the courtyard in groups, with adults watching from the sidelines.
“Our country has just gone through a crisis. And the children are a little traumatized. And we are there to help and give them a little advice, and I think that helps to calm them down,” Christian said.
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Fourteen-year-old Frankie Mongbanzi, whose parents died several years ago, arrived at the orphanage in September 2016.
“When I came here to the orphanage, I found a big family,” he said. “I’m happy to play capoeira with my brothers. At the beginning it was difficult. But when the professors come to correct us (they) help us to improve.”
Christian said their group of capoeira enthusiasts tries to impart to the orphans the values of capoeira – tolerance, fair play, discipline and respect. They hope it can help the children foster a more peaceful future for the country.
“In the other arts like taekwondo and judo, they hit each other,” Christian explained at the orphanage, “but in the capoeira, we don’t hit each other. And in each ‘round,’ even if someone makes a hit, you have to say, ‘Oh, he touched by mistake.’ You hug each other and say, ‘Excuse me, excuse me.’”
There’s been a difference in the children since they started playing capoeira in November of last year.
“The children are fighting all the time. They spar all the time. And they don’t forgive each other easily,” said Ange Ngasseneno, the director of Fondation Voix du Coeur orphanage. “But, I saw that with the capoeira, the children are learning to forgive each other. Today, they have learned to resolve their problem and ask for forgiveness.”
The capoeira association also meets weekly at the capital’s stadium and throughout the week in the surrounding neighborhoods. They want the organization to be an alternative for youth at risk of being recruited into armed groups.
“We in the ‘rounds’ just play. It’s not a question of religion. It’s not a question of nationality. It’s not a question of ethnicity,” Christian said. “We are all just ‘capoerists.’”
Reconciliation is an ongoing challenge for this country still struggling with divisions over religion and the impact of a bloody civil conflict.
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.