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Monday, May 27, 2013


Sunday morning a guy I know well told me what happened to him the day before. He’s a mobile phone technician. After he went to Mbaiki (100km far from Bangui) for work, he was on his way from the capital with few others, when they came across few cars. Their driver, dazzled by their lights he flashed once. Unfortunately it was two cars full of Seleka rebels. They stopped the, and a colonel came threatening the driver with a pistol. They beaten him and spoke in Arab intimidated him. Eventually another rebel that was with them stepped in and made them stop.
The driver got  wounded in the head, beaten by punches, and pistol’s butt. After they medicated him they went off to Bangui….
The guy wrote me “Personally I wasn’t harmed but I was very impressed to watch someone got beaten and I couldn’t do anything”
This is exactly how I feel regarding what’s happening here in CAR. We had coup d’etats, but this time is far worse! After 2 months they keep on plundering, shooting, killing and violence.
Rebels presence in this country caused every bad thing possible:
·         The civil servants getaway
·         The soldiers and law enforcement agency escape
·         Schools and public offices closures
·         Emerging criminals and thugs stealing, plundering and literally emptying out houses.
·         Ethnical and religious tension

It’s hard to get around, both because rebels stole hundreds of cars (one is ours and one of Bouar’s community) and also because one fears to meet bad people,
Thefts and loots are everyday routine. In Bangui, a widow, mother of 4, saw the rebels coming. She already lost all in the 2003 plunders. They took away few furniture and the next day while she was away, they came back, stole everything, and occupied her place. The widow had to leave.
Sadly these stories have become everyday routine. Same thing happened to hospitals, schools, public offices, petrol stations, private citizen’s houses, churches and convents, ONG structures….schools are closed, teachers are gone, few left are scared they will become a target for lloting or worse.
Furthermore the state funds are empty. There was very little before the rebels arrived, but with the coup d’état the rebels took everything. Even the petrol stations, they sold petrol and gas. That was one of the most important incomes for the state. This means the civil servants won’t get paid.
 In addition to all this there are other worrying facts:
 ·         Chad and Sudan interference: majority if Rebels are foreigners, they don’t speak Sango (National language), they speak only Arab.
·         The control over subsoil, especially gas fields. The first ministry is the petrol one.
·         Complete absence of control over the rebels, last week one of them told me1  We are rebels, 2 we are at war and 3 this is Chad province
·         Lack of development programs. The CAR, after 50 years from independence, has never built a school with state money
·         Islam element – half ministries in the new government are Muslim. Most plunders and lootings happen to non-Muslim people, most particularly to the Catholics. This is all very worrying, considering we were going on quite well.
·         The total interruption of any economical and commercial activities, and the perspective of investor’s getaway that got looted and threatened.

 There’s a Psalm that often comes back to me, especially in these days of fear and tension “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11.3) during these months I often say to the people, especially the young ones “one needs to think!” if the country is in these conditions it’s also because problems were left unattended.
Facing 51.4% illiterates, overcrowded classrooms (often more than 100 students), with non-existing Justice, a self-centered political class, a welfare only interested in profit …. “what can the righteous do?"

It’s obvious that there’s an enormous need of training and education to be done, in all levels and point of views. This is why we do not leave the country, and we keep our schools open! This is why we shout! CAR is hardly known, almost no worldwide extent.
The most important news these past 2 weeks about CAR ….was the killing of 26 elephants. Which is important too, of course.
But we had more than 300 dead since the 24th of march, and rapes and wounded and looting…..CAR really risks of being abandoned to itself and to become hell on earth.
If we write, shout and make someone stop and listen….perhaps they can help do something!
Church, especially through the brave Archbishop of  Bangui is one of the few rare voice that keeps on trying shake people conscience….we want to keep on talking and to work hard so that in future these things won’t happen!




Monday, May 20, 2013

Men of Faith

Sunday 12th of May the pope proclaimed saints the 800 martyrs from  Otranto. A beautiful story. Otranto is a very historical city where Christianity blossomed both in Art and culture (there was a school for those who wanted to learn Greek and Latin, they could also live there…for free) in 1480, Turks, after conquering Constantinople tried to attack Italy to get to Rome. Fleet got to Otranto under siege. Turks sent a message, if the city surrenders, all citizen won’t be killed. The chief of the city decided to resist against 18000 soldiers…..
Unfortunately after  15 days, had to surrender. Turks offered life to those who repudiate Christ. Antonio Primaldo, a dressmaker, said “Brothers until now we fought to defend our country and to survive and for our earthly lords. It is now time to fight to save our souls” so the city choose death just not deny their religion…. The next day 800 men were beheaded.
A good story, from other times. It’s unfortunately still very actual in too many countries across the globe. And in Africa too: Nigeria, Kenya….
John Paul II, talking about them said “martyrs left us two fundamental legacies: love for the country and authenticity of faith. A Christian loves his country and love for the country is a Christian virtue,
Today I thought about this during the Pentecost, talking about the Holy Ghost. It was the Holy ghost that made those people strong, years ago, and still does, for each one of us.
During these weeks in the parish we experienced Grace several times: Sunday the 5th of May here in Bozoum we celebrated the Confirmations, and today people whom are preparing for baptism celebrated one of the Catechumen steps.
May the Lord open our hearts to the action of the holy ghost to become always better men, better women


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2013, May


Here we are in May, the best month (it’s when I was born..!)
We’re almost reaching the end of schooling month, only here though, in the rest of the village and in the country everything remained shut down due to unsafety and shooting….
They keep happening here too…On Friday “commissioned”rebels arrived from Bangui to disarm the local rebels…but they went on hiding. On Saturday once the senior rebels left, they kept on shooting all day to celebrate a wedding….it would have been better to use rice instead, tomorrow I’ll go there and suggest that!
On Sunday evening the abbè Mirek called from Bouar. There’s a young guy who was kidnapped from rebels in Bocaranga, asking for a ransom of 250.000 F CFA (375 €)  it was paid but they didn’t release the young guy. So on Monday afternoon I went to visit the chief. He’s a colonel (all rebels are colonels or generals here….)They’re having lunch, there’s about 12 of them. I present them with the situation. One of them sais the young guy is kept prisoner at his dad’s place, whom is the mayor of a village. The chief said they let him go this morning…but I’m not convinced. (afterwards they confirmed he was set free)
Anyways I bring to their attention the second issue….they placed a check bar in front of the secondary school. This barrier has been designed as toll bar to stop cars and motorbikes…and I explain that until the barrier is there the school cannot be reopened. They discuss amongst themselves.  “Why do you need a barrier?”  – I ask.  “Because we must check all vehicles are in line with traffic laws!”  I replied “but all your cars don’t even have a plate!”  they answered “well, but WE are rebels!” I said “As a matter of fact now there’s a government, there is no more rebellion”  reply “no, we are still at war and this is a province of….Chad” I said “so are you here to ensure safety or to cause more troubles?” I also noticed that there was a prisoner in the other room: “Is he the young guy you are to set free?”  “no” they replied, “this is a thug” “as yourselves?” I asked. They laughed.
We’ll see.
More news : Father Nicola left us. He was a missionnaire in CAR since 1971, a great person, missionnaire and from Piemonte ! he’s 90 and now it’s time to move towards safest places….


Thursday, May 9, 2013

From comedy to tragedy

Comedy part I
Last week rebels arrived 15km far from here to steal a car that our mechanic was repairing for a priest in Paoua (125km) – he had hid it but they eventually found it….so I have the archbishop certifying that the car is property of the diocese, I give it to the Chad’s Consul… (why? Because almost all rebels are Chadians, he’s the only authority figure they recognize..) So while we wait for the rebel’s chief to arrive we have a chat….the Consul says in CAR there are too many weapons: 
Me: “I agree.”
Him: “Too many locally made weapons”
Me: “yes”
Him: “it’s the authorities that are placing the orders”
Me: “well, yes, however there are many that are imported through borders…Moreover (also because during the night loads of cars were stolen in Bangui, now heading to Chad) too many things can come and go that  shouldn’t come nor go…
Him: “of course, but in CAR there are too many locally made weapons”
Me: “but…ermm…”
Him: “even Kalashnikov are locally made in CAR?”
Me: “well, no…but…ermm…”
Him: “I see plenty of rockets carried by the rebels’ cars…even those are locally made?”
Me: “well, no…but…ermm…”
In the meantime the chief arrived. He doesn’t speak French he cannot read. He’s young, elegant, carries a couple of mobile phones. Pretends to read the paper i give him… up-side-down….and the consul reads its contents. Then translates in Arabic.
The chief says he’ll return the car….IF we refund the expenses. ( i wonder which expenses…they stole the petrol too!)
I take this opportunity if it’s possible to re-open schools (ours are already open, yet not the others) He says of course, no problem. So I add they won’t go rob the schools nor looking for the teachers….he of course, ensure they shan’t do that. They won’t bother anyone….

Tragedy part I
And of course, the very same day, the rebels went to Manga, a village 30km far, where we hid the other car and stole it. Took off to Chad and I’m afraid  we’ll never see it ever again. (if anyone sees a Landcruiser Toyota DA0002NM it’s ours)

Comedy, part II
On Friday i went to Bouar to visit with the fathers and the nuns and to attend  a meeting with Justice and Peace commission. They told me that the previous day the Prefect and the local rebel chief met the missionaries and the laics to reassure them. They really didn’t do a good job because they still shoot and loot and steal (especially cars)….they even arrived on the car stolen to a local priest few days ago! The prefect too goes around in a stolen car……
Tragedy, part II
on my way back from Bouar i stopped in Bossemptele where Camillian monks and Carmelitans nuns from Turin manage a hospital. Yesterday a 13 years old died. He had a surgery in Yaloke, but rebels arrived at the hospital and all personnel fled. Without assistance nor medical care he got tetanus infection and after a terrible suffering he eventually died few days after.
Yesterday Sister Elvira from Berberati told me a kid just died. His family left after the shooting as they left with the other 5 siblings in the forest. Unfortunately on their way back he had a bad malaria case and he died. He just was adopted by another family because his natural parents had abandoned him….

Happy Ending Part O
In Bouar I met people members of the Justice and Peace committee of two parishes. All from CAR, I was really impressed by their courage and their analytical skills.
Courage: one of them during the meeting with the Prefect said we all are hostages. The prefect got angry. But indeed it is true! And the prefect is hostage too.
Analysis: some said: we need to be careful. They invite us to meetings, try to convince us all is fine so we can tell people that. And that is a deceit!