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Monday, January 28, 2013

Big Bozoum Fair!

Big Bozoum Fair! We just concluded the Big Agriculture Fair, an unique event in the whole of Central Africa….200 co-ops, coming from more than 200km and lots and lots of people coming to have a look, to sell, to buy…most especially it was a very tangible message of hope for this country!
It has been weeks that Central African Republic is in the news, unfortunately due to the rebellion and disasters happening with the war between rebels and government
 Before getting onto the Fair organization, we had to think things through, we had doubts and some worries. However since Tuesday trucks we sent to ensure the products delivery started to get here.
Friday evening we had a major meeting with the co-ops, gave them instructions on…marketing!
And Saturday morning we opened the fair with a small ceremony: parade of co-ops, few speeches and the opening of 50 stalls. Such a pleasant sight for the eyes and for the heart!

Paolo VI said that “development is a new name for peace”
Developing this fair Is peace, is hope. It’s pride for those who work all year long and finally see their hard work rewarded here.
Also, financially speaking, the fair went pretty well. I thought we wouldn’t do as good as last year (60k sales!) but as far as the first overview we already crossed the 85k sales line.
Congrats  for a job well done to the farmers and to all who did believe in the work of men.
And a big thank you to those who support us, particularly to the Association “friends of Central Africa” in Mozzate, Como.
And to all the simple hearted people that gave their contribution, such as the friends from Baramo’ Cafè.
Thank you all! Singila!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

it's HOT in Central Africa!!

I came back just in time....for another attempt of a military coup! and with the last of the Air France flight...

Since the 10th of December there has been a series of armed groups of rebels (they named themselves AELEKA, alliance, in sango) that challenged the government and began fighting to conquer the country, In few days they managed to attack important cities, county seats, and even Bambari, that head quarter of a military area.

Few days after Christmas they got to Sibut, that is at 160 km from Bangui....

Who are these people? And what do they want?

it's rather complicated to answer these questions because nobody knows much around here....

Amongst them there are sons of the previous regime, an ex-ambassador, and amongst the troops several people dont even speak French nor Sango. (some are probably from Sudan, others are from Ciad)....

they call themselves the liberators...their goal is to have the current President resign (he was elected quite recently in 2011) and to dissolve the Parliament (thought it was not regularly created)
also they lay claim to the non respect of the treaty between the State and the Rebels and the disappearing of an ex-minister, whom was arrested from Ciadian soldiers and brought in to the Central African militaries....

We hear of plunders, sexual violence, killings....

So far the African Union deployed forces and organized a red line in Damara (70 km from the capital) in order to prevent the attack in Bangui....

the 26th of December there have been some protest in bangui against the French and the American Embassies (perhaps the Government wanted some military help??) - so now the American Embassy has been closed down, all personnel left, with the United Nations personnel too.....

earlier on the president refused any type of dialogue, but now he has proposed a coalition to govern and not to present himself as a candidate for the third mandate (even though the Constitution hinders that, however he was trying to amend that law...)

Situation now is stalling...we hope they'll manage to sit down and solve this with diplomacy and reach an agreement.....

in the meantime we live in fear ....10 years ago, in 2002, things started the same way and the rebels conquered the whole country and reached to the capital city too....

For the moment here all is quiet, but we don't know until when....

In these days we pray for Peace. But it's a gift from God AND man, and we must help Him prepare it for us....the Gospel says that "Mary kept all these things in her heart" -  and yesterday during the homily -  i thought more and more on the pondering: even though the country is in crisis, justice doesn't work, there's no welfare and education is even worse....and this is after 54 years of Independence...we need a change. which needs to happen in the conscience of the people, we need a mind opening that cares for the common good.



Here i am again in Bozoum, after few weeks spent (again!) in Italy
I landed in Genova on the evening of the 15th of november, was a thursday, and first thing on Friday I was already in Cuneo for the pre-op examinations.
Saturday i managed to escape to Como, for a meeting with the Friends for Central Africa Association and the following Tuesday, the 20th i had my inguinal hernia surgery.
Few days of rest, then on the go again, between one thing and another....

From the 3rd and the 10th of December i visited with friends, Associations etc. In Savona (to assess the possible outcome for the surgery of Hippolyte, a palarised kid from Bozoum), then Arenzano. Following day in Milano, with friends that intend to help us with the solar panel installations, and in the afternoon i met few friends of Avvenire. The next day, eveninig with Parish of Cassina amata, which, since few years, supports faithfully the Arc en Ciel Centre (rainbow centre) for the orphans in Bozoum.

on Thursday a quick one in Rome, to meet with Caritas and Cei, and on the friday, i flew to Prague.
There i met the Carmelitans community, to the sanctuary of baby Jesus, and the Siriri association. in the evening we had a meeting and a dinner together. The following day, i met with architect Karol, to discuss the next projects ( the dormitory house for the middle and secondary school, improvement on the church). In the evening I received a beautiful present: the Aida ticket to the opera house!!!!  Celeste....

Sunday 9th we celebrated the christening of Josephina, Terezie's daughter. Terezie spent a year of volountary work here in Bozoum.

Monday morning i went to the castle uphill, where the Cathedral is. All was covered by snow...and it was 5.30! in Prague they have an ancient tradition: weeks before Christmas the celebrate mass very early in the mornings! i celbrated with Cardinal Vlk, whom very kindly translated my greetings and stayed with me.

Late morning i flew back to Bergamo, where i met Giorgio, mason, whom will come back in few weeks. In the evening i met with  Beppe e Enrica Tempesta, real good friends of Bozoum and  Maria Elena from Ferrara. 

On Tuesday the 5th on my way to Cuneo for a medical examination

I drop by to see Father Ivo and some friends of his parish and Few days after, i was in Arenzano, finally on Thursday the 20th i came back here in Bozoum, where Christmas preparations were already started.

These days passed by quickly, though i realised it's really great to meet with so many helpful and wiling people: people with jobs and families, with many difficulties to handle, though they are happy to help less fortunate people!

Even my sister's bar, called "Baramo" ( in sango means hi). they put together a ruffle and with the money we'll be able to buy few plows.

What to say? Life is beautiful!  a huge thanks....and merry Christmas!