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‘Capoeira’ Works Wonders for Traumatized Teens in Central African Republic (CAR)

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A capoeira instructor teaches orphans the proper techniques of the martial art inside the Fundation Voix du Coeur orphanage in Bangui, April 20, 2017. (Z. Baddorf/VOA)
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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.”

Young orphans practice capoeira on the grounds of their orphanage. The martial art was developed centuries ago by African slaves in Brazil, April 20, 2017. (Z. Baddorf/VOA)
Young orphans practice capoeira on the grounds of their orphanage. The martial art was developed centuries ago by African slaves in Brazil, April 20, 2017. (Z. Baddorf/VOA)

Capoeira was developed centuries ago by African slaves in Brazil.

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.”

A young Central African Republic woman performs capoeira at an orphanage in Bangui. A group of refugees brought the martial back with them from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 20, 2017. (Z. Baddorf/VOA)

A young Central African Republic woman performs capoeira at an orphanage in Bangui. A group of refugees brought the martial back with them from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 20, 2017. (Z. Baddorf/VOA)

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.

Several young orphans practice the capoeira moves needed to participate in a “roda” — a “round” where the participants dance and perform martial arts moves to music, April 20, 2017. (Z. Baddorf/VOA)
Several young orphans practice the capoeira moves needed to participate in a “roda” — a “round” where the participants dance and perform martial arts moves to music, April 20, 2017. (Z. Baddorf/VOA)

The capoeira classes include participants of Christian and Muslim faiths.

“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.

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)