Timothy L. Smith, a Lt. Colonel with the State Department, stationed in the U.S. embassy in Bangui, the capitol of the Central African Republic (CAR), was the guest speaker at the Constantine Rotary Club meeting Tuesday (August 3rd).
Smith presented a slide show with commentary, assisted by his father, the Rev. Dennis Smith.
The US Foreign Service employs 12,000 men and women. Only two percent of applicants get into the Foreign Service field, Smith said.
Well traveled, places Smith has served at include Panama and Barbados, in the Caribbean.
Smith’s presentation included the following information:
• This country is the size of Texas. There are 99 students for every teacher. It has the highest AIDS rate in central Africa and the CAR is one of the poorest countries in the world.
• As far as the economy, mining is important. Diamonds are 45 percent of the exports.
• “There is potential there to be wealthy, but there is a different set of rules in Africa. Officials do what they want to do. It’s totally unbelievable,” Smith said.
• “Our main concern is humanity and security,” Smith said. “We don’t like it when millions die. If we had more stability, developed countries could come in and assist.”
• “People dig pits near rivers and pan for diamonds,” Smith said. “One project we recently began is to build a road, we employ potential insurgents,” he added.
The presentation was attended by approximately two dozen Rotarians. A catered meal preceded the talk.
Rotary meets at noon on Tuesdays at Wesley Hall, adjacent to the Constantine Methodist Church.
Source: Story and photo contributed by Angie Birdsall
Editor’s Note: According to the U.S. Department of State, the population of the Central African Republic (July 2009 estimate) was 4,511, 488.