"I felt great pain," the Pope said during his Nov. 30 in-flight press conference returning from Bangui to Rome. "Yesterday, for example, I went to a pediatric hospital, the only one in Bangui and maybe in the country, and in the intensive care unit they do not have instruments of oxygen. There were many malnourished children there, many of them, and doctor told me that the majority of them will die soon because they have a very bad malaria and are seriously malnourished."
On Monday, Vatican Radio reported that 200,000 euros ($215,000) were raised by the project and given to Pope Francis, who said the proceeds will be used at the hospital to care for all poor children "without distinction of religious belonging, because all children need care and attention."
Christo, the artist, is a Bulgarian-born U.S. citizen and contemporary artist perhaps best known for his pieces that involve "packaging" or wrapping. Featured in the Vatican exhibit was a "packaged" fragment of Raphael's 'The School of Athens.'"
At the launch of the project, the then-Vatican Museums director, Antonio Paolucci, said that "Many years ago, Pope Julius II used Raphael to celebrate himself and his Church, (…) five centuries have gone by and another Pope is using a Raphael for a work of mercy to help one of the poorest and most marginalized countries of sub-Saharan Africa."
Bangui Pediatric Hospital was also a beneficiary of a December 2016 concert in Rome.
The Central African Republic has suffered civil war since December 2012, when several bands of mainly Muslim rebel groups formed an alliance, taking the name Seleka. They left their strongholds in the north of the country and made their way south, seizing power from then-president Francois Bozize. Their president was in turn ousted in a negotiated transition in January 2014.