Ivory Coast Unrest Felt By Local SCSU Students

By: Ryan Atkins 0 Comments   5/2/2011

The average SCSU student’s anxiety may increase as finals are approaching; the computer blackens hours before a paper is due following an all-nighter working on the previously mentioned paper, a break up, or where to find change to grab that $5 pizza from Little Caesars.

Sadly, SCSU has numerous students whose worries are much greater than a paper, significant other or pizza. I have written three previous stories regarding the Ivory Coast incident and today I will add the fourth installment, demonstrating the internal battle students have battled as their loved ones live in the same country where thousands have died due to the Presidential uncertainty that turned the Ivory Coast into a war zone.

Two SCSU students with family residing in the Ivory Coast reveal an introspective look into their lives as they attempted to finish the semester strong, while they’re thoughts drifted to those they care about who live oceans apart.

Third year student Henri Ouraga spent the end of March and April, using any free time he had , scouring the Internet looking for any news that appeared credible, which would hopefully provide peace to his soul as he worries for his family.

“CNN and those kinds (of media) show what the French are showing,” Ouraga said. “They don’t show what the Senator of Oklahoma (James Inhofe) said... The focus of the international media has been about the people, but about the incumbent President, Gbagbo, to step down.””

Ouraga cares deeply about the people who are being affected by the battles in the Ivory Coast.

“I am very worried. I have friends there (Ivory Coast) and I don’t even know if they’re alive,” Ouraga said. “ I use to talk to them on facebook. But not anymore. If I log in I don’t see them. I’ve known some people alone time and I don’t know how they’re doing right now and that’s painful.”

The uncertainty and worry has affected Ouragas sleep cycle, which has been as low as two or three hours in an evening to an extreme of 15 or 16 hours.

Third year student Elishaba Balle, took time to reveal the pain and uncertainty that plagued her as she spent much of Wednesday March, 30 unsure of where her father was.

Balles family lives in the Capitol city of Abidjan, the location where much of the violence took place.

Balle, an engineer major, was preparing for a test and a lab for the following day. She had been attempting to reach her father, Jules Balle. She did not see Jules on SKYPE nor did he answer any phone calls. It wasn’t until 5pm on Thursday that Balle heard from her father.

Jules took her through the day, how he left home to run errands and as he was about to return to Abijan, he was warned war had broken out. Jules witnessed French takes and other vehicles filled with weapons.

“Then as he (Jules) was driving young people stopped the car and pulled him and his friend out,” Balle said. “They took all of the money, the phone and they had weapons. They looked at the ID to see name to make sure it was the same ethnic group of the President (Ouattara) He wasn’t. A machete was placed across his neck. The individual with the machete said ‘I’m going to kill you,’ as others said ‘Let him go’.”

The vandals took the car, leaving Jules and his companion to walk five hours to their homes.

“French and rebel forces were out destroying everything. My father had to behave as a plunderer to look the part,” Balle said. “All were so worried as he (Jules) was gone for so long. It didn’t sound like he was scared, but thank God they took the car so he stays home. "

Ouraga, Balle and other Ivory Coast students have been assisted by SCSU, who presented that counseling was available for the students. SCSU has been attempting to work with the students as the stress is difficult for the students.

In my final story regarding the Ivory Coast saga I will reveal how the situation has contributed or hurt, Ouraga and Balle in their faith in God.

Stay Tuned... Here is part 5.

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