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Monday, September 18, 2017

Getting ready for the school

Getting ready for the school
Schools in Central Africa, open, more theoretically that in real, on Monday September 18th. At Bozoum Mission, between Kindergarten, Literacy, Women's Training Center, Elementary, Middle and High School, there are more than 1,500 boys and girls who will reach the Mission every day.
Reopening schools after holidays means a lot of work, like cleaning, painting where necessary, repairing of benches and windows and the making of the uniforms for the students and also much training!   These days, elementary teachers worked on the first class program, adding the national language, the Sango, and using the "Learn by Playing" method. From Wednesday to Friday, teachers of our “St.Augustin” Media and High School have worked on some aspects of teaching, such as programming, preparing report cards, interaction with teachers and students.
The situation in the Country is increasingly worrying. Our entire area is affected by violence and attacks, against villages, people, and families. On Sunday, September 10th some villages on the road between Bouar and Bocaranga have been attacked by some Peul (nomadic breeders) and burned. In the following days some NGOs were threatened by antibalaka in the Bocaranga area. In Bouar, a young Muslim was killed, for revenge, because after being robbed, he had denounced the offender. The thief, after being arrested, had been released by the local Gendarmerie, and immediately he wanted the revenge. So yesterday, Thursday, the whole city was in agitation, with barriers erected by antibalaka on several streets. The Government is completely absent, and there is no real reaction. Even the UN Peace Keepers are accused of immobility, of low efficiency and, often, of accordance with some of the rebels.
On Thursday I was planning to go to Bocaranga to organize the school year (German Caritas will help us to encourage some 150 teachers). But at last minute I need to change my program, because there is too much tension, and I decide to go towards Bouar.
The trip is quiet, though the roads are getting worse. I’m bringing here the sanitary supplies (gloves, syringes, gauze) donated by the Czech firm Schubert. I give it to the Sisters who run the dispensary of Wantigera, and the hospitals of Maigaro and Niem.
Their beautiful smile repays for driving such a long distances, and for so bad experience of such great violence!


Sr Giulia, a Maigaro

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The beauty and the scaring

The beauty and the scaring
Sunday, September 3rd (this is the scaring part) a group of Seleka rebels were present in Ndim area, a village 160 km from Bozoum. The region has been under tension for months, and rebel groups go, come and stay, controlling the border with Cameroon and Chad. They carry on their everyday life trough theft, looting, violence, and "taxing" the few merchants taking courage to go to supply cities and country sides with basic essentials. On Sunday they came to Ndim, and they took the mayor, a very smart woman, and the parish priest, the polish capuchin Father Robert. The Father was insulted because he defended people and denounced what is going on in that area. He was also beaten and brutally tortured. The people took courage managing to obtain his freedom.
It is very worrying what happened, because they were clearly intent on scaring and silencing the few people who denounce criminals. They scare not only them, but also everyone who, by incompetence and lack of real good will, keep silent, such as the Government and the UN Peace Keepers.
The beauty part ... is the last work done in church: the two pillars supporting the Tabernacle and the statue of Saint Michael, the Church's Saint Patron, needed to be restored. I had planned to make a wooden sculpture, but the artist, after receiving a down payment, disappeared! So we changed the idea switching into a painting instead. The artist is the same who last year painted the Apostles and all the decorations. The artistic work is just finished: are very simple decorations, but looking brilliant because of the bright colors. And above all, they draw attention to the Tabernacle, where there is the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus. And St. Michael too catches the attention: four angels look like flying around cheerfully.
It is important, especially when the scary moments seem to prevail, bring and create Beauty, which, by the way, is one of God's names.

P.S.: Last Sunday's chicken, the one that travelled 50km, is fine. As for now!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

50 km for a chicken!

50 km for a chicken!
Sunday afternoon, while I’m in the parish office, a little boy 2-3 y.o. appears, encouraged by his Mom. He proudly walks in with a chicken in his hand (which is almost bigger than he is!). I do not understand if he wants to sell the chicken or what he wants to do. Is his Mom that gives me the real reason why. She tells me that have been months since her boy wants to see Father Aurelio, and that he began acting crazy as long as they wouldn’t bring the chicken to Bozoum. Then Mom took advantage of Father Norberto, who had been in their village (50km far from here) to celebrate Mass, and asked for a passage to finally bring here the boy. What about the chicken?  It's a small sign, but a great gift! I feel deeply moved by those 50 Km just for me.
Meanwhile, the training session for teachers, organized by the friends of Prague members of ONG SIRIRI.ORG, has come to an end. The 244 primary school teachers are very, very enthusiastic. It was a huge job including working in the kitchen, to arrange meals for all: Czech, French and Central African educators. But on top there’s the satisfaction for the result, so great. Now comes the effort to put into practice the method “Learning with fun”, which began few years ago in our Bozoum Schools. The method consists of 5 very basic pedagogical principles, demanding the involvement of children, starting from the elementary schools. In addition to the 5 principles (demonstration - practical aspect - reflection - cooperation - evaluation), there is also the teaching in the national language, the Sango, and the use of drawings (murals) to help children express themselves.  We began with this teaching method 2 years ago in our school, and now there are many schools using it. Teachers and parents are excited because they see a tremendous difference between the young students following the new system and their little brothers and sisters who follow the old one.
The Ministry of Education is also interested. On Wednesday morning I have had a long conversation with the Minister of Education, who is very appreciative of the system, wishing to see this experience, if possible, involving all schools in the Country.
On Monday I accompany to Bangui the young SIRIRI teachers, who will leave on Tuesday night. It has been a great experience sharing time in helping them. And for them it was rewording to see the great interest of all the teachers in learning during the 6 days of learning.
On Wednesday I return to Bozoum, where the large driveway leading to the Mission is covered by lots of orchid bunches, as it happens every years. Is with me the painter Alexis. He last year did collaborate carrying out the paintings of the church, and now he will complete the two lateral columns, the one on the side of the Tabernacle and the second one dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of Bozoum (and Cuneo!).

In cucuna
la cuisine

Fine formazione

Gli affreschi didattici
Les fresques didactiques

Compleanno di Vojtech
Anniversaire de Vojtech


La pala di sant Michele
le tableau de St Michel

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Greetings, rice, schools


Greetings, rice, schools
Living in a Mission, living in Bozoum, means people coming and people leaving. The 12 young people of ONG “SIRIRI.ORG”, which arrived on Tuesday, August 15th, did their best to be ready for their work. Between Thursday 17th and Saturday 19th, everyone is busy preparing the great training session, together with 10 Central African teachers.
And Monday morning they are ready to begin the Session: there are 244 teachers coming from Bozoum and surrounding villages, but also from other cities: Bangui, Bossemptele, Baoro, Bouar, Ndim and Ngaundaye. They are all excited to learn and deepen the new "Learning with fun" method, which many have already used in the past school year (2016-17). It's nice and impressive to see the teachers taking part with passion, trying new things, like singing and playing: all this will be put into practice in many schools in the next school year.
Sunday afternoon we take the opportunity to visit the Bozoum rice fields. This year the fields are much more vast and well-farmed, simply because many have realized that rice can be sold, and can become source of income for the family.
On Sunday morning, at 8.30 am, we welcome Father Matteo Pesce, just arrived as a new member of our community of Bozoum. Presides over the Mass Father Enrico Redaelli, who will leave Bozoum after three years of work among the villages and the parish, mostly with our youth. It’s emotional and also a bit sad saying goodbye.
His departure is scheduled for Thursday, August 24th. It’s raining, so we decide to leave later, but it’s raining even more until noon. We leave at 1.30 pm, but after 15 km one of the two cars we travel with, stops. I go back to call the mechanic, who goes to fix it. He did fix the problem, but are already 4.00 pm. It’s too late to continue because there are 250 km of unsafe road ahead of us.
We retry on Friday, leaving at 5.30 am, and at 11.00 am we reach Bouar, where the whole community of St. Elia welcomes us with a little, simple and meaningful ceremony: singing we go towards the community church, where Father Enrico (new Superior and new Master of novices) entrusts his ministry to the intercession of the Saints of Carmel. “Saint Elia” is a young community. Are living there 4 Fathers, 3 Novices, 7 young guys who will begin the novitiate in a couple of weeks and 3 young postulants who are approaching the consecrated life.
As you see, many young people, and much hope. They are the future of the Country, of the Church and of the Carmel Order in Central Africa Republic.

Le risaie di Bozoum
une des rizières de Bozoum

Il mercato di Bozoum
la marché de Bozoum

Formazione insegnanti

P.Enrico à St Elie