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Monday, August 31, 2015

Nuns and roads

gli strilloni!
Nuns and roads
Last Sunday, the altar boys have been busy distributing the parish newspaper "Le Saint Michel". During the Mass I asked to read it, explaining that there were some insights about the forthcoming elections (October-November 2015). I wanted to give them an opportunity for a better understanding of this political event. They can be easily orientated by someone just because he belongs to the same ethnic group, or because he can give money, beer or fabrics...
Last Monday we hold a meeting with the volunteers of the “Listening Centre” (Centre d'├ęcoute): every week thirty people make themselves available to listen to those in need and help them. There are those who accompany the sick to the hospital, or to the police or in Court in order to get justice, those who give information about some Groups that can give assistance, repair a roof, prepare a meal, bring firewood or water, and so on.
Wednesday I receive the visit of the Indian nuns who work at Yole’ with us in Bouar. The nuns are together with Sister Rita, the superior of the African region, which I had met in November in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Here in Central Africa, since 1991, they work as teachers, nurses and offer valuable assistance with a typical feminine touch, flavored up with a lot of joy!
Thursday I leave with them driving to Bangui, to take the Mother Superior who is going back to Tanzania. Along the road we meet the convoy with about 200 trucks driving towards the capital. I overtake them one by one, but it takes a long time, because the road is narrow and isn’t in good condition! They travel in convoy because there are attacks along the way, and are escorted by UN peacekeepers. Just today I received a message from a student of our school, who went to Cameroon, where he is attending the University, saying:
Hello Father! I take this opportunity to keep you informed of my return trip to Cameroon! Indeed, as expected I left Bozoum Monday, 8/25 and I had to spend 2 nights in Bouar because of lack of transportations. Because of this I left for Bouar Garoua-Boulay the following Wednesday. During this trip, our vehicle was stopped by rebels about 25km after Baboua and we were brought for twenty meters or so into the bush. They made us lie on the ground and began the counting of our bags and pockets. Thank God our lives were spared after they have collected an amount of almost 1.5 million f CFA (2,250 euros). As for me I was able to keep what I had for the University registration, because I had hidden them. But they took my phone and some 5000 f CFA cash that I had purposely kept in the pocket.
This happens on the only road allowing communication with Cameroon, which is also the only road to get merchandise. It makes you realize how fragile the situation is, and how little is being done to secure at least some strategic points. I do not say that the United Nations are not doing what they should do, but maybe they could at least spare us all the round tables and press conferences, where they continue to say that the situation has improved, that everything is under control and so on. Maybe the improvement is for them, in their offices with air conditioning, or in the hundreds of their cars crossing Bangui. I don’t want to go any further with my comments…
In Bangui I meet our community of Carmel, always "brightened" by the more than 2,500 refugees (since December 2013) and I welcome two Sisters of the Misericordia just arrived from Congo: Sister Francine and Sister Christine. It is they who are to replace the Franciscan Sisters. Sister Francine will continue to her destination which is Ndim (160 km from Bozoum) and Sister Christine instead will remain in Bozoum. On Sunday at 06.00 we leave Bangui reaching finally Bozoum at noon, where they can embrace Sister Paula waiting for them ready to begin the adventure of “Misericordia” (Mercy) in Bozoum!

Camions sulla strada verso Bangui: tutto regolare e a norma!
Des camions sur la route vers Bangui: tout selon les r├Ęgles!

Sr Payton, in Centrafrica dal 1991
Sr Payton, en Centrafrique depuis 1991

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