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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trips and other things...

Please excuse my silence!
Laziness apart. . . I have not written anything because, for these two weeks, I have also been engaged in various trips. . .


Last week I was at Bouar (250 km), where we met with those in charge of Caritas in some of the parishes in this region. Caritas was well described by Paul VI in these words: “the hands and heart of the Church”. At times Caritas becomes confused with the many such like organizations, because it is often directly involved in projects of great importance and urgency. But Caritas is first of all the commitment of all Christians to spread and give witness to the love that they have received from God. For this, the parish dimension is important, with care, listening and hard work, in meeting people in need.

This week however, I left on Wednesday, around 1.30 in the afternoon, to go North. The roads are truly abominable, particularly in this the rainy season. . . I arrived at Ngaoundaye, 205 km away, around 6.30 in the evening. . .
The reason for the trip was to meet cooperatives, men and women who work together in various fields (agriculture, commerce, soap making or other food processing work). I wished to explain to them the value and importance of saving and credit.
Here at Bozoum we have a savings bank, and we intend to open another 3 branches at Ngaoundaye, Ndim and Koui.

Thursday morning there was a meeting at Ngaoundaye, then we set off for Ndim around 11 a.m. Here we met with the lady Mayor, and others in charge, then set off around three in the afternoon for Bocaranga.

Here I spent the night at the Catholic Mission, and yesterday, Friday, we set off around 6.30 a.m. for Koui, where we arrived at 8.00 a.m. – (one and a half hours to travel 40 km along the road. . . and I assure you, there was no traffic!!!)
Here we met with the Sultan!!!! He showed us the terrain he was willing to be used for the savings bank. Then, we had a meeting with the women and men of Koui. This is an interesting area, where once was a farm that produced milk, and a cheese factory that processed around 2,000 litres of milk a day! It seems science fiction, yet we are speaking of only 40 years ago. . .

At 11.00 in the morning we left for Bocaranga, and then reached Bozoum, just in time for a beautiful downpour. . .
Along the road, I like to see the schools, that timidly and slowly are reopening. . . more than a month late. . . I stopped to visit one, consisting of three huts, one covered with a tarpaulin. . . but the children were there, waiting for the teacher to begin lessons. . .

St. Michael's feast, parish, Credit bank and schools

St Michael is the patron of the Bozoum parish, founded in 1927 by French missionaries.
Every year we celebrate this feast on the last Sunday of September.
It is the time to begin again all the pastoral activities (and those not so...).

The feast is preceded by times of prayer and reflection, which this year focussed on the WORD OF GOD.

On the morning of Saturday 24th, we inaugurated the first branch of the savings and credit bank of Bozoum.
We began this bank three years ago, to give the possibility of putting savings away securely, and also to give financial incentive to the economy through small loans.
At present, there are 735 members, whose savings amount to around 45 thousand Euro. In one and a half years, small loans were given, amounting to around 40 thousand Euro, and late repayments are less than 4%.
 Saturday afternoon provided the opportunity for a small procession, and time for confessions.

On Sunday morning we celebrated the Eucharist, deeply fervent, vibrant and ... full of dance!

Immediately after Mass, we went down to inaugurate and bless the new Junior high school of St Augustine – Lino with its 11 classrooms, an office, beautiful verandahs and covered spaces: for a school it is exceptionally beautiful and this year will receive around 180 boys and girls, coming from Bozoum and other schools, in a radius of 160 km.
In the afternoon, there were games and competitions for the children and youth.

Monday morning, however, was the first day of school at St Augustine’s: solemn flag-raising ceremony, singing of the national anthem, notices from the school Director. . . then all to their class rooms.