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Saturday, July 13, 2019

To work!

Soletta della Radio di Bozoum
la dalle en béton pour la radio de Bozoum
To work! 

Our last school to finish was the Women’s Promotion Center “Cana” 9 on Sunday.  It is a small school that allows about forty girls and women to receive training (over 3 years) on childcare, cutting and sewing, hygiene, cooking and nutrition, and some basics in economics. 

The works of the Bozoum Radio continue. During the week we made the slab that will cover the recording studio floor, and we plan to build the roof next week. 

I accompanied Edoardo Vivalda to Bouar, a young man from Cuneo who has been in Bozoum for about a month. Unfortunately, to go to Bouar (110 km) I had to take the long road, which passes through Bossemptele and Baoro (250 km) because a bridge was damaged by a truck, and it was not possible to pass! 

 I have added 2 very interesting photos on the damage caused by the Chinese companies that extract gold, along the Ouham river. These are satellite photos, taken a year later (June 2018 - June 2019). Unfortunately, ecological and environmental disasters are very visible!


Centre Promotion féminine CANA de Bozoum

Metallurgia tradizionale per costruire pentole in alluminio
Artisanat traditionnel pour la fabbrication des casseroles en aluminium

Ponte di Koude (axe Bozoum-Bouar)
Le pont de Kounde (axe Bozoum-Bouar)

Foto dal satellite del fiume Ouham intorno a Bozoum: giugno 2018 e giugno 2019
Photo satellite de l'Ouham à Bozoum: juin 2018 et juin 2019

Friday, July 5, 2019

A smile refreshes life!

A smile refreshes life!

And their smiles warm the world!

So I finished last week's post. But someone complained that in Europe and elsewhere it is already too hot! Let's not forget that a smile warms the heart and refreshes life!

Speaking of heat: last Sunday, around 1.00 pm, Fr. Norberto called me.  He had left for Sambay, a village 10 km away, where he did confession and started Mass, but had to stop due to a Malaria crisis. I left immediately and met him on the street. He explained to me that, in addition to the Mass, there were also baptisms to celebrate.
I arrived in Sambay, and all the people returned to the chapel. There were at least 200 people in a chapel of less than 100 square meters, and there was an exhausting heat! After the celebration, which lasted a couple of hours, I left the church all wet!

In the upcoming days the works for the construction of the Bozoum Radio continue: we are at the slab, and in a couple of weeks we are hoping to mount the roof. Unfortunately, in the past few days we have had two tragedies, Alban and Romuald, died in a car accident. They were both teachers in our St.Augustin High School and they were also local correspondents for a national radio station. We really counted on them for the direction of the Bozoum community radio!

Speaking of education, we have just installed a digital library: a simple system that will allow teachers and pupils to access texts and novels, with a mobile phone.  This is thanks to the collaboration with the Ministry of Education, supported by the French Embassy. Merci!

Unfortunately the work of gold mining by Chinese companies continues. Despite the promises by the Government and ministers, there is no sign of improvement. The water of the river is as dense as mud, and now pollution can be seen hundreds of kilometers away!
Promised buildings (a school and two clinics) haven't started: there is only a forum for the authorities that the Prefect is having built, so that the authorities can remain in the shade during the parade on 1 December, a national holiday!

Battesimi a Sambay
Baptèmes à Sambay

La biblioteca digitale
La bibliothèque numérique

Lavori in corso per la Radio di Bozoum
les travaux pour la Radio de Bozoum

La tribuna per le autorità
la tribune pour les autorités

Il fiume Ouham
le fleuve Ouham

Thursday, June 27, 2019

School- Part 2

School- Part 2
The commitment to education by the Church (and not only in Central Africa) is enormous.
Just here in Bozoum we have 21 elementary schools in our villages (with over 3,400 children) and in the city we have the Ste Marthe nursery school (150 children), the Bakanja elementary school (950 pupils), the Literacy Center (for a hundred children and teenagers, that allows them to re-enter either elementary or high school), the St Augustin Middle School and High School (300 students) and, finally, the Arc en ciel (Rainbow) Center for orphans (another 200 children from ages 4 to 14).
Every day more than 5,000 children go through our schools in the villages to receive education and training.
Monday was the day for the children of the Arc en Ciel: games, sports, lunch, gifts, dances and skits, were done to celebrate the school year that ended.
On Tuesday morning the rain stopped around 7:30am, just in time for the closing ceremony of the Bakanja elementary school. Thanks to a group of friends from Cuneo (or better, from Borgo San Dalmazzo), even this year I was able to purchase 600 citrus plants, which we donated to the first 20 students in each class. It was a small act of recognition of the work they have done, but also an encouragement to both the children and their parents to plant fruit trees. Both the children and their families are very proud of them!
And their smiles warm the world!

Friday, June 21, 2019

School and pink scholarships...

School and pink scholarships...
Last Saturday we started preparing for the end of the the school year and the closing of our schools.
In the morning we started with the boys and girls of St.Augustin (both the middle and high school). After the performance of some of the students in both dance and song (in Africa this is something that cannot be missed!),  I handed out report cards to the 300 students: some had disappointment, some had a sigh of relief, and some were quite happy...
This year we have awarded scholarships to the top student of each class, and the "pink" scholarships, for the girls who placed themselves among the first 6 students in each class.
It was a way to encourage the female genius': often the girls, in addition to going to school, must also look after their little siblings, and many other household tasks, so sometimes school is not always as important.  This scholarship provides the girls in our communities incentive to not only go to school but also to do well.
The nice thing about this initiative (born in Cuneo, supported by CDVM, Salinzucca, Roagna Vivai and Baramò) is that it is starting to bear its first fruits: this year the girls who received between 2nd and 6th highest marks increased, and 2 girls were actually the highest marks in their class in the sixth grade.  This is an encouraging sign that the girls are taking their school work seriously and in turn will help them with their futures.
Saturday afternoon there was the closing ceremony for the children of the Kindergarten classes: about 150 children participated in skits, songs and a bit of healthy chaos.
On Sunday we celebrated Mass in the chapel dedicated to Saint Anthony, with the children of the catechism and many people from the community.
In the afternoon I accompanied Fr. Jérôme Paluku, a Congolese Carmelite and Secretary of the Missions for our order, up to the rice fields. It is time for sowing, but also for harvesting: many have taken advantage of the now finished dry season and the irrigation of the site to produce onions and peanuts.

La Cappella di S. Antonio
La chaelle de st. Antoine

Friday, June 14, 2019

Entering the rainy season...

Entering the rainy season...
In Bozoum, from October to April is the dry season. Sometimes (and in recent years it has happened quite often) there are still some rains in November, this year we even had some rain in February.
However, it is normally 4 to 6 months with no rain, which makes for a very dry, dry season. When the rain does come it comes as a blessing, this is not by chance, in Sango (the main language of Central Africa), rain is called "NGU-NZAPA" (the water of God)!
The vegetation in a few days will turn green, the temperature will cool down and people can start work in the fields.  They prepare and sow peanuts, corn, millet, rice and everything that can take root.
The exams of the BC (Brevet des Collèges, which translates to the National Diploma) that mark the end of the final senior two-year program are over. Here in Bozoum there were 183 students writing, of which 44 were from our high school, St.Augustine. Out of the 183 students, 154 were promoted.  Among the students promoted were 41 of our students. In addition, out of all 183, the top 5 were from our school. What was most amazing, the icing on the cake so to say, were 2 girls that were among the top 5, and all our girls were promoted.
Last Sunday, the feast of Pentecost, we also began the conclusions of the catechism year, with the catechumens of the 3rd year who received the oil of the catechumens, a symbol of strength in the fight against sin and support on the path to Baptism.
May the Holy Spirit sustain them!

Fine dell'anno di catechismo
Fin de l'année de catéchèse

I promossi all'esame del BC
les admis au BC

I primi 5 su 181 candidati... tutti del nostro Liceo St Augustin
Les premier 5 sur 181 candidats, tous de notre Lycée St Augustin