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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Bangui - Bozoum

Fiori di mango
Fleurs de mangue

Bangui - Bozoum
On my return from Cameroon, last Wednesday, January 9th, I spent a few days in Bangui with my friends, members of the NGO, Siriri from the Czech Republic with whom we have been collaborating for years. Thursday and Friday were days full of meetings and briefings, between Ministries and several Organizations.
On Saturday morning, Paolo Silvestro and Giuseppe Occelli arrived from Cuneo. Their journey was very long, due to a canceled flight by Air France, which then forced our two friends to begin an even longer flight journey: Paris, Casablanca in Morocco, Douala in Cameroon and finally Bangui! At about 10 am, with loaded the cars, we all left, 3 Czechs and 2 Italians, towards Bozoum. The road continues to be in bad shape. Furthermore, the road construction inaugurated in August on the Bossemptele - Bozoum track has not advanced. In 5 months 13 km have been repaired (and very badly, at that).
We arrived Saturday night in Bozoum, and Sunday morning, after the Masses, I delivered the wheelchair, which I bought in Cameroon, to Gauthier: he was one very happy fellow! With the guests from the Czech Republic, we went to visit the schools. Just in recent days we had the visit of second in command for the Ministry of Education (the Director General of Teaching) who visited our high school and elementary schools, expressing his appreciation.
The preparation for the Agricultural Fair is also going to take place next week. Unfortunately, other severe problems have intensified. Our area has been disturbed by armed men for a couple of weeks. On the streets around Bozoum there are the Peuls (Mbororo, a nomadic people of shepherds) fleeing their "protectors", the rebels of the 3R movement. Occasionally also the local population is implicated, with some antibalaka attacking the villages attracted by the livestock. This triggers the rebels' reaction, with more killings and devastations.
On Wednesday afternoon they called me to go to a village, 10 km from Bozoum. Here I found a family of Peuls, who were running away: a mother (pregnant), a girl and three children. They had lost everything and were very scared. I brought them to Bozoum, and welcomed them at our Mission facilities. Today, Thursday, I took them to the hospital, where the doctor saw them, and we got them the necessary medication. Fortunately, one of the sisters knows Foufouldè, and we were able to have a brief chat.
For how long will peace be so fragile in this country?

Presentazione del Programma "Imparare giocando" ai Vescovi del Centrafrica
Présentation du programme "Apprendre en jouant" aux éveques de Centrafrique

Intervista al disegnatore Didier Kassai


George, Ludmila et Veronika di SIRIRI.ORG

gli alunni di 3a Liceo nelle nuove aule
Les élèves de Terminale devant les nouvelles salles de classe

Issa, con la sua capretta
Issa, avec sa chèvre

Giuseppe Occelli

Sunday, January 13, 2019


Friday afternoon, January 4th, I went to Bouar and by evening I was in Baoro. Just today the "pupils" of the Catechist school arrived: there were a dozen men, with their families, who will attend a program for 6 months to become "catechists".    
The catechist, in Africa, has a very important responsibility to the surrounding villages.  In the places where the priest is only able to go a few times during the year (because of the distance, and the number of villages), it is the catechist who guides the community, celebrates moments of prayer, and teaches catechism. All ten families dedicate themselves in formation training: the catechists receive a series of courses on the Word of God, on prayer and on the sacraments. The children attend the public schools of the city, and the wives on the other hand, helped by Sister Biagina and other women, will be trained on childcare, sewing etc... 
Saturday morning I visited 2 sites of great interest: we are building two primary schools in the villages of Dayanga and Dobere. It is a great commitment, but we believe in education as a "weapon of mass construction"! In the afternoon I arrived in Bangui, and on Sunday morning I left for Cameroon, to visit our confreres who work there, and in particular to meet the two Central African theology students who live there because of their theological studies. 
I traveled by plane to Douala, the economic capital of the Country, and immediately continued by bus to the capital, Yaounde. The roads were paved and there was not much traffic (it was Sunday), and in almost five hours we arrived, after maybe 250 km. Not only did I get to meet with the confreres but I also enjoyed watching through the bus window shops and business display. I was able to buy a nice wheelchair for our Gauthier, a young with disabilities in Bozoum, who will be delighted to receive it. Wednesday morning I left the convent at 3.00 am, and the bus, which has to be there at 4:00 am brought me near the airport of Douala and from here I reached Bangui.
This was also the week of arrivals: Ludmila Böhmová, Veronika Boháčová and Jiří Pasz, arrived in Bozoum for the "Apprendre en jouant" (Learning with fun) project. They arrived on Tuesday. On Friday Paolo Silvestro and Giuseppe will be arriving, they are going to help me with the preparation for the Agricultural Fair (25-27 January), while on Saturday we have Enrico  Massone arriving, who is coming to Bozoum for the construction of a church in the village of Kpari.
Good work!

Famiglia alla scuola dei Catechisti a Baoro
une fmille de l'école des Catéchistes de Baoro

La scuola in costruzione a Dayanga
L'école en construction à Dayanga

I mattoni per la scuola, prima della cottura
les briques pour l'école, avant la cuisson

la scuola in costruzione a Dobere
l'école en construction à Dobere

Monday, January 7, 2019

From Christmas to the New Year

Between Christmas and New Year
After Christmas, Saturday, December 29th we had a great gift: the ordination of Brother Michael to the Diaconate. Brother Michael is the young Carmelite who made the Solemn Profession of Vows on December 8th, and on Saturday December 29thhe became a Deacon. The Diaconate is the first step of the priesthood. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that in the very early beginnings the Church (Peter, James and others) understood that it was necessary to choose people to be in charge of the "service" of the poor. And so they chose some Christians (including Stephen) and laid their hands on them (as a consecration and outpouring of the Holy Spirit). Brother Michael will have as his mission the proclamation of the Word (is the deacon who reads the Gospel during the Mass) and the service, especially to the poorest.
Don Tonino Bello said that the apron is the only liturgical vestment worn by Jesus. "Stole and apron are the upright and the reverse side of the same sacred vestment: the stole that makes us ministers of the Gospel and the apron that makes us the feet-washers of the world. Indeed, even better, they are like the height and width of a single service cloth; the service rendered to God and the service offered to others ".
So, on Saturday morning, there was a big celebration in our Carmel community in Bangui for the occasion where we welcomed His Eminence Cardinal Nzapalainga, archbishop of Bangui. He often came to Carmel when there were thousands of refugees present and he was amazed to see the difference now that they left. The liturgy took place in one of the several sheet iron roofs, in order to welcome all the people: choirs, dancers, altar boys, many priests and young Carmelites. All of them contributed to a beautiful celebration, vibrant but attentive, joyful but also respectful of silence. After the homily, the Cardinal placed his hands on Brother Michael, and with the prayer of consecration made him a deacon. The ceremony lasted about two and a half hours, which passed very quickly.
It is now Saturday and I have to return to Bozoum for the celebration of Sunday Masses!  After eating a quick bite, I take the road to Bozoum: the usual 400 km, of which 250 are in very bad shape. I leave Bangui at 2.00 pm, and I will get to Bozoum at 8.15 pm.
Sunday December 30th we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. It is an opportunity to remember this great reality, the family, and to celebrate the wedding anniversaries, from 3 to 44 years! On Monday, December 31st we celebrate Mass as thanks for the year 2018 that is about to end. The afternoon and the evening were delighted by shouts and songs and by the endless repetition of "Bonne année".
And "Bonne année" to all of you!

Anniversari di matrimonio
Anniversaires de mariage