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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Little plants!

Little plants!
Sunday, June 21st, after the celebration of both Sunday Masses here in Bozoum, in the afternoon I put myself on the road to accompany our friends of SIRIRI to Bangui. We arrived there around 7.30pm, after just a bit more than six hours by car. On Tuesday I’m back to Bozoum, just in time to follow in part the beginning of an Enterprise for rice producers. Finally, after many discussions, the Global Fund for Food (WFP or WFP) decided that, instead of getting food to be distributed from countries like USA, Thailand, Pakistan etc., will buy part of the needed amount right here. And here's the training to help the producers to improve the quality and to offer a competitive product. Thanks to a small loan from SIRIRI, we have just started to build a poultry house-school. It will help boys and girls of Middle and High School, in learning how to manage and run a farm. These days the school year of kindergarten and elementary school are reaching the end. Friday afternoon a very large crowd was present to pick up the report cards: over 900 kids, surrounded by moms and dads etc. To the best students we gave a bic, a candy, and a citrus little plant to be planted together with their parents. I am always touched and surprised by the joy of the students, even more by the pride of some parents! Small plants that will grow!

See here, please:

Il pollaio in construzione
le poulailler en constructio

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Smiles and school

Smiles and school
Sunday, June 14, accompanied by not so severe malaria, I celebrated Mass at St. Anthony’s Chapel, who is our patron saint's day. I could see large crowd of devotees, dances and joy almost endless.   On Monday our friends from Prague, Association SIRIRI (Hana, Fr. Pavel, Ludmila and Vojtech), begin to meet the teachers at "Isidore Bakanja" school  to prepare a training session that is going to be held in September, in order to help both teachers and children how to learn and to teach while enjoying it. Schools here, because of lack of books and staff, are carried out usually by one teacher for a hundred children (in our school the students are “only" 30 to 35) who writes what he is teaching and then asks to memorize. Something is learned, but much is lost. In fact, just a funny example, when I enter into a class, children often greet me with a nice "Bonjour Ma Soeur" (Good morning Sister). There is so much work to do, and teachers are excited to learn something new about how to teach. Speaking of schools, we are reaching the end of the school year. Thursday morning I chaired the Council of Teachers at “St. Augustin” where we have students following Middle and High School. On Saturday we handed over the report cards. Thursday afternoon instead it was the turn of the Orphans Center "Arc en Ciel", which welcomes more than 200 children aged 3 to 14 years, supervised by the nuns (Sister Clare and Sister Solange), with the combined help of SIRIRI and  Parish of Cassina Amata (Italy). Sadly in a few months the Franciscan nuns will return definitively in Italy, and so for them this is the last celebration with the boys and girls of the Arc en Ciel. For this farewell children have indulged in sketches, recitation of poems, and dances. How can we not thank God for the gift of life and of children? Their eyes are overly bright. In their looks there is the depth of the world and the intensity of the sky. Their smiles are lives open to and bloom in a future which, we believe and hope (and we work to build it!) will be full of life! Here you have some pictures ... are a good number, but I would have made more if there was more room.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Many needs and many answers

Many needs and many answers
This week I traveled a lot ... a bit 'more than usual! Monday afternoon I went to Bangui, where, in addition to a few meetings, I welcomed the friends of SIRIRI of Prague: Hana Říhová, the President, with Fr. Pavel Pola, Ludmila Böhmová and Vojtech Bily (they lived here with us in Bozoum from October 2013 to June 2014). With them early Wednesday morning we drive to Bozoum where we arrived late morning. The Association Siriri (which in Sango, the national language of Central Africa, means: peace) works with us over the years in different areas: health, education, construction, wells etc. With them we are putting together a small project to help our teachers to improve the way how to educate children, trying to get them to the point to teach with a bit of fun to overcome the simply repeating by heart. Friday morning I move with them toward Bouar. Next is Bossemptele, where we visit the hospital. The Czech Republic is helping the Central Africa with a plan for mothers, to guarantee women access to the hospital for childbirth, before and after natal check-up, etc. Along the way I stopped visiting few schools to ensure that the food that we delivered is actually used by pupils. And I am happy to see that many schools are preparing lunch: rice and beans. At Baoro we stop to visit the Mechanics School, supported by Siriri. At Bouar, more visits! At “St. Michel”, the Center for AIDS patients we meet Brother Angelo Sala. He recently got a device for blood tests, funded by the Czech Republic. In the evening we reach Yolé where there’s our Seminary. Here a local firm has just finished drilling a new well, thanks to the generosity of Italian friends. The needs are many, but there is also lot of generosity, thank God!

Maternità, Ospedale di Bossemptele

Apparecchio per gli esami del sangue. Centro "St.Michel"  per malati di AIDS, Bouar
Appareil pour les examens du sang. Centre "St.Michel"  pour malades de SIDA, Bouar

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

May 31, and beyond…..

May 31 is traditionally a day dedicated to the Virgin Mary, at the conclusion of "Her" month, the month of May. And on Sunday 31st it ended up on the mountain Talo, a hill above Bozoum, where a statue of the Virgin Mary watches over the city. We reached to top of the hill in a large number. The dominant color is red, simply because it is the celebration day of the "Legion de Marie", a catholic movement connected to Mary’s devotion. We climb the mountain, and a beautiful surprising vision of Bozoum is front of us. Together we pray that the Virgin continues to protect the city. At the end of the Mass a hundred people make their promises before the statue of the Madonna: they promised to pray and, most of all, to commit themselves to imitate Mary in their journey of life. The social political situation in Bozoum is quite stable, although there are moments of tension. Schools are near to closure, while you still do not see the presence and a serious commitment on the part of civil authorities and peacekeepers of MINUSCA. Thursday and Friday I leave towards North. I drive for 450 km on roads rather ugly with fifty bridges to be redone, a truck burned by bandits a few weeks ago. How sad it is: I don’t see a peacekeeper. It is true that they are "only" 10,000; it is true that for the salaries of the military the UN spends something like 600,000 Euros per day; it is true that they are busy elsewhere (but where????). I’m convinced that could be helpful, especially for the people, being able to see in a concrete way their presence feeling consequently a little more protected. At Ngaundaye I take part in a meeting of the Parish Committees “Justice and Peace” and “Caritas”, of which I am the diocesan director. What is coming out from our conversations it’s really bitter: a lot of tension among the people, many episodes of violence, with killings for reasons simply futile, a destroyed economy and the social environment even worse! Young people often are swept away by violence and greed of money, ending in stealing and violence of all kinds. It seems that nothing and nobody can change the situation, no condemnation from nobody.  That's why I listen to these young people and adults of Justice and Peace and Caritas, and I encourage them to not give up, and always react. Even a small act of resistance can be crucial to change the present situation.

Le "danseus": la danza liturgica

le acconciature...
les coiffes....

Scendendo verso Bozoum
en descendant vers Bozoum