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Monday, April 29, 2013

It rains...

There’s a way of saying in Italy ‘’It rains! What a rip-off government’’…but we should at least have one here in CAR
Theoretically there is one, but in reality anything goes yet. After the coup d’état, The self-made president and the prime minister put together a new government, with ministers and stuff…however the real situation across the country, after a month, still is chaotic and tragic. Looting, shooting and violence keep happening all over as it happens in the capital as well.
Friday at 11.40 pm the phone rang. Father Marco told me rebels came back to Yole seminar, where they have 80 kids. Once more they experienced terror, shootings, plundering and menace….thankfully nobody was hurt or worse, killed.
Here in Bozoum they killed a teacher this week. Rebels went to a village looking for a car that had been hidden by a merchant. They came, took him, tied and beaten him up to get information about the car. Finally they shot him. That same day they were up and down the main road with that very car.
There is no justification for all this. Only cruelty and incompetence of people in charge, without taking any responsibility for it
As Gandhi said: ’The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice.’’

Monday, April 22, 2013

Few weeks after….

It has been weeks since the coup d’etat…but we’re still in chaos!
Last Saturday a transition counsel (that should be representing the whole country) chose by acclamation the only one candidate, whom is the self-claimed President….
In the meantime, killing and looting continue, especially on Saturday and Sunday, rebels got in few areas to disarm people, or at least this is what they said they were doing. Truth to be told, they stole every single thing they found worth something. There has been few reaction and rebel shot. The outcome is 20 killed during weekend. Few children too, that were in a church that was struck by mortar.
And this even in the rest of the country, capuchin father had to leave Gofo mission. And in the other villages, more or less they all suffer damages, fear caused by these rebels. We do not understand what their intentions are… They’re destroying everything. Politics, economy, administration…..
Politicians here are sadly standing out for their incompetence and opportunism….
The only strong and brave voice is the Bangui’s Archbishop. In the homily, last Sunday and in the Vatican radio interview he had no fear telling the truth about what’s going on and that he sees every day amongst his people.
He said: “last Tuesday the whole neighborhood emptied. Terrible fear, as id they wanted to burn everything down. Me myself helped some kids across the street and they were frightened, scene of psychosis, of...
I wonder how it’s possible to let children get traumatized. They are the smallest, they represent the present and the future of this country. These are questions that our new masters will have to answer for. It is time to set up a trusting clima. It is time to reassure people. This is what we expect of them. As of now the Seleka rebels have all the power and no one can stop them. It is time that they build rules and set grounds, with boundaries and no weapons, so that people can live their life and take care of their own things’’
We’re trying to manage and keep going. The building site for the students is still open (see pics below)
On Wednesday i visited Bouar (250km far from here) to gather with the brothers and the community over there. We also met the members of Justice and Peace, with whom we recapped a bit the situation and thought about what to do next. Both in the immediate time (reporting every kind of violence and tyranny) and in the future, to help people, Christians and young to build a future and to set grounds for a deep cultural change….
Today, Sunday, I left at 6.30 and walked to the chapel of  St. Jean for the Mass as we only got the one car, we hid the others, as we’re afraid the rebels would steal them….in the afternoon we held a meeting with Caritas, and Justice and peace, we’re trying to see what’s we can do and if schools can be reopened again…
We keep on going, slowly, in fear, but also with trust. Both because Jesus  told us he won’t leave us with whom wants to hurt us but also for the prayers and the support of so many people. thanks

Thursday, April 18, 2013

War and peace….

Same as the last few months,  this week has been alternating with moments of joy and unfortunately many moments of sorrow and sadness…
Whereas in the rest of the country the situation is sadly very tense, here in Bozoum we live relatively calmly. Why? Probably it’s due to people’s will power, along with the presence of the Chad’s Consul…rebels visit him every time they pass through this area.
On Monday week we’re going to resume building the new student house…fingers crossed!
Last Wednesday at 5 we hit the road, myself, Joseph (the mechanic) and Christin (the mutual saving bank’s manager) off to: NDIM, a village 160km north side, bad roads, worse bridges.
About 8 we got to Bocaranga in a small Capuchin parish and a Caritas Sisters home. In this village the rebels plundered an American ONG called IRC that took care of education, wells building and healthcare….
On the way out of Bocaranga we met a car full of rebels…assault rifle, cartridge belts, sunglasses….rather unsettling….but we carried out as if nothing happened….
About 9 we got in NDIM. There’s a Capuchin community and another of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. They’re doing ok, however everyone is very much worried and tense…living for months in this conditions is really really hard.
They also re-opened schools and same as us, they try to give to Bocaranga kids the impression of normality.
We visited the mutual saving bank, that last week was attacked and plundered by the rebels.
They wrecked the grid and broke in and entered, took everything they could laid an hand, tore off all furniture and tried to break in the safe.
They didn’t make it, however they did great harm. Almost 2000 euro value (cash, 3 solar panel batteries, calculators, chairs, finance registers and books) and what is worse is that they seriously put in danger this whole activity…
After lunch we came back, we brought few students that were there visiting their families. Most especially Pierre was there, he’s 14 had sever speech and psychological traumas (couldn’t speak and had strange behavior), thank God he’s all improved and he came back home!
Thursday afternoon we held the teachers meeting for the second quarter, yesterday morning we handed out the report cards…
Friday afternoon I organized a training for the young, on the problems we’re living, trying to help them understand and think.
Yesterday we received bad news: rebels attacked the Bangui seminar and the Yole one in the evening, thanks to the archbishop’s help they managed to avoid the worst. They eventually left after they broke some car windows…
In Yole situation is worrying. At 8 pm 2 armed rebels and a guy from Bouar arrived there, took a young nurse as hostage and demanded to enter the place. They demanded money shot few times. In the meantime some monks warned Bouar on the local radio Siriri.
Some friends went looking for the rebels chief and brought him and few others there. The latter ones thought rebels were still inside and started to shoot (but they already left).
In the end we left with a a lot of fear and thankfully no one got injured or worse! Problem is that in Yole there are 80 kids and now the monks (father Enrico, father Maurice and father Marco) have a dilemma, to keep the kids there or not….
This, after three weeks of coup d’etat is a clear sign that the new rulers have no clue how to run this country….

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why do we stay?

Easter Sunday mt cousin called me and told me (strictly Piemonte dialect, neh!) ) “Fate nen masè, pitost ven via” (don’t get killed, just get away from there)
I told him everything was ok, even if it wasn’t…
When a country is in a situation as Central Africa is, anything goes…rebels conquered one village after the next one and all around they plundered and destroyed
When there’s turmoil, first to run away are civil authorities and military…same ones that until yesterday were bullying the weakest now are small and invisible….
Gone are the doctors, the nurses, the teacher… Soon the village was left undefended.
There’s an unreal silence, everyone prepares for the worse….every noise is a suspicion…a motor engine scares you, a barking dog…who could that be? Rumors spreading….rebels are there, here, out and about, did this and that. They look for Father Aurelio, they want the car….
Then shotguns begin, heart beats uncontrollably, stomachache,…it’s like if the body let the fear get it, while the mind tries to reason…even if it’s not always possible.
And when things get worse, when you realize you’re one of the few ‘known characters’ left….you ask yourself why…
Because people need a Father, a Mother, a Sister. Even if you don’t do much, just being there gives hope and helps. It’s like being there for a sick friend or a sleeping child. They know you’re there. And your presence there is the sign of Another Presence….
Because you know if you leave, all you worked for, all those years could be destroyed: hospitals, schools, agricultural co-ops, mutual aid bank. And you fear there won’t be any strength nor means to start all over from the beginning….you don’t care much if it was you doing it, but in this there are years of work with people, education and training you saw slowly growing risk to be totally halted.
Because you know He is always at your side, even when the boat seems to drown
Because every now and then there’s a man or a woman saying thank you for staying! Or a child, that could make it to school, despite everything he looks at you and smiles…
Therefore, in spite of your fear and stomachache, sleepless nights, you understand you’re doing something good and important: your giving Jesus hand to those who need it most!
Bravery? A little, however it’s full of fear. Also of the Presence of Someone who never leaves us!

These are photos of the Savings Bank that we opened in Ndim (160 km from Bozoum) a year ago. Today was attacked by the rebels ... Thank God, and the intervention of a Capuchin friar who speaks Arabic, have been blocked before forcing the safe (which was empty anyway .....)

Here instead is Bozoum, on Easter Sunday ...
and ... yesterday we reopened the schools .... in spite of the rebels! This is also the resurrection!