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Friday, March 29, 2013

The calm after the storm

Here in Bozoum all seems ok, we managed to hold up through the first wave, thankfully with little damage…
In Bangui is a disaster…rebels, false rebels, thugs, took advantage o this situation to plunder everything. Private citizens, companies, corporations, businesses, ONGs, Red Cross, Unicef, Pam, churches, convents, schools, hospitals local radios…then scattered through the rest of the country…
Tuesday evening reached Baoro, then our mission. They took money and our car (thank God a Muslim friend of our managed to get it back)
Rebels got here in Bozoum Tuesday night, shot firearms, destroyed Police and military stations (no one was there to hold the grounds, they were all gone days before) sacked fuel station.
This morning I visited a sick person for the holy communion, I went there by foot (also because we’ve hidden the cars so they can’t steal them) it was a good occasion to check in on the people in the neighborhood…they are a bit scared, but hoping the worse is now over…
You can feel the tension around, however this morning a teacher thanked me for staying here. He said this helped him to hang in there and don’t panic.
And being close in Bozoum speaks volume. Rebels did not venture up to the mission to sack, mainly because people and youngsters set to it when Rebels got here. holding up close, monks, nuns, our friends in Italy, Check Rep, France, Cameron, Mexico…we really feel it. And gives us strength.
Also strong sharing and liasing with other Missions here is very important, and did us a lot of good keeping touch via radio and phone, gives us strength to keep going!
If things will calm down, we’ll have to think about the future and honestly, from signals around here I believe we’ll have few years of instability here…
Hiowever, as Guareschi wrote “NON MUOIO NEANCHE SE MI AMMAZZANO” (I wont die even if they kill me) God’s Grace, with brothers and sisters, we keep on going, his people here in Central Africa need help.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Palm Sunday 2013

Days of Passion…for Central Africa!
The Rebellion that began in December, got to Bangui at Christmas, stopped early January thanks to a series of signed agreement in Libreville (Gabon) between rebels and the government.
Even through some difficulties they installed a government of National Unity (more ministers on the same portfolio to avoid opposition or rebels get to it)
Ten days ago rebels kidnapped 5 ministers (on the rebel’s side) and issued an ultimatum.
After the deadline, even if President granted them few concessions they took the offensive (although to be quite frank they never stopped war)
Thursday they conquered Bouka and Batangafo, Friday they got Bossanoga, President’s hometown.
Friday morning all military and soldiers left along with council officialdoms and a good slice of population.
Here we organized few things, in the afternoon we sent 2 cars to Bouar, 250 km far from here with 2 Italian volunteers and 2 nuns and some other people that wanted to leave…
on Saturday around 1 pm we were having coffee and we heard some shotguns.. you can only imagine how scared we were…We expected the worse (rebel arriving, violence, thefts) however just right after that we heard it was military soldiers that wanted motorbikes in order to escape so they started shooting to get them…
This morning we gathered for the Palm Sunday Mass. There were only few of us during the Procession and I thought that we’d have little crowd for the celebration…but for Gospel time the church was completely full.
Reading the gospel with Jesus that suffers and dies for us, especially here and now in this violent and overthrowing situation is rather touching.
After the holy communion the choir sang “Aye so kwe Gb ya a sala, e gonda Gbya, e gonda Gbya” that means for all that God made we pray him and people were singing  and waving palms….
So this time still could be a time for Grace, growing in Faith, Charity (hosting those escaping from their homes) and in Hope
And only the Coss, once more is the only hope, not violence, not hatred…
By now the rebels have Bangui …therefore the power.
Page is turned but for Central Africa seems like the pages are always the same: coup d’etats, violence and plunders….