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Saturday, February 27, 2016

News from Congo!

News from Congo!
Sunday, February 21 I left Yaounde (Cameroon) on a flight to Congo. Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is just south of Yaounde, a couple of hours by plane. But to reach Kinshasa, it’s a bit more complicated: from Yaounde the flight takes 4 hours eastward Nairobi (Kenya) and from Nairobi the flight turns towards West, for another 4 hours, to Kinshasa. At the end I traveled more than 7,000 km instead of 1,800.
Kinshasa is a very large city: from 10 to 12 million populations, possibly even 15 million. It is situated on the Congo River that splits the city and the Country from the other Congo, whose capital Brazzaville is right in front, by the other shore of the river.
 I arrived at midnight. I meet there Fr.Roger and Fr.Valentin, two Congolese Carmelite Friars.  They give me a warm welcome taking me to their convent, the Teresianum, in downtown. There are large roads, at least for the more important directions.
On Monday, while waiting for the other participants, I give myself a bit of rest. 
I have also time to meet two friends who work for the European Union,

with whom we worked in Central Africa Republic to find a solution to the problem of gangsters.
In the evening all the others Carmelite Friars are with us too. It is a meeting for the leaders of the various Jurisdictions of French-speaking: from Central Africa Republic, Rwanda-Burundi, Congo, Cameroon, Senegal, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Togo and Burkina Faso. We work together for three days, discussing and sharing the various experiences of our Countries, working out to give a more clearly African face to Carmel and the Church for which we work.  It is a beautiful experience, because besides working in different African Countries, we come also from different Countries and cultures. Thursday evening we meet the Discalced Carmelite Nuns for the Eucharistic celebration. Eventually they welcome us dancing and singing. We all end sharing supper. At 11.00 pm I leave for Nairobi and Yaounde, dreaming for a nice trip.

Kinshasa, il fiume e Brazzaville

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Political Elections

Seggio elettorale a Bozoum
Bureau de vote à Bozoum

The Political Elections
Sunday, February 14, there was the second round of presidential elections in the Central African Republic. Nearly 2 million people were called upon to choose among the two candidates, Dologuele and Touadera. It is the third act of a long story, which saw the Central African Republic called to the polls, first for the referendum on the Constitution, then the choice of the President and Members of the Parliament. The first round was held on December 30, and the results were declared after many days. There were some problems in the organization, errors and frauds which caused the annulment of elections of all the deputies. Their election have been postponed to February 14 (1st round) and March (2nd round). These elections were much awaited, and some Countries and International Organizations (France, European Union, African Union, United Nations) had insisted a lot that they could take placed as early as possible. Unfortunately, the insisting is not enough in order ot have something so important well organized. For this reason the results are not very encouraging. What is encouraging instead is the attitude of the people, who went to vote with dignity and seriousness, choosing with great care and avoiding candidates too involved in the past with violence and who have caused various problems. This week came to visit us our young theology students. They took the opportunity of a School brake leaving Bangui and spend a few days in peace. Their convent over there is still "surrounded" by about 5,000 refugees. On Friday morning I left at 6.00am, to go to Cameroon, where I am now. Are almost 1,000 km of road, with some surprises (including punctured wheels, improvised police barriers in the most unexpected places-often at turns, or a border to cross), and on top of everything the entering in such a Country, so very different from Central African Republic , which has developed differently, and that is growing. As soon as I arrived in Yaounde, the capital, I went to buy some seeds, for our cooperatives: onions, carrots, eggplant, basil ...    This too is development!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Carnival, Ashes and more

Carnival, Ashes and more
Sunday morning, after 6.30 am Mass, I am informed that a child, Placide, has been kidnapped! A family has a sick child, and they accuse Placide dad to be the cause of the disease, because of witchcraft. At 8.30 Mass I ask the altar boys not to stay close to the altar (Placide is one of them) and at the beginning of the Mass I denounce the fact telling everybody the kidnappers first and last names. Meanwhile some people of the Parish Committee for Justice and Peace try to do their best in order to solve the situation, but the Gendarmerie does not activate. After lots of threats and shouts, eventually in the afternoon the "kidnappers" decide to release the child. Placide comes home only the next day, scared and very shaken. Unfortunately, these events have still deep and strong roots. At the same time the fact that there is no authority contributes to worsen the situation.
Monday at 4am I leave for Bangui, to accompany Lia and Massimiliano. They go back to Italy after a month spent in Bozoum. I’m back home the next day, just in time for the beginning of Lent.
Here in Bozoum we live Ash Wednesday very seriously! In the morning we climb Mount Binon, a hill overlooking the city, and here we celebrate the Mass, after which I distribute the Ashes, a little sign of our being sinners and, above all, of the God's Infinite Mercy. After Mass we remain up the hill in silence to pray and meditate until the afternoon. At this celebration are present the Catechumens. They will receive the Baptism at Easter Vigil. The Lenten journey was created especially for them, to help them living and discovering the beauty of God. In the afternoon I celebrate another Mass for those who couldn’t climb the hill. At this Mass the Church is crowded by faithful.
Thursday, February 11th. we celebrate the Day of Prayer for the sick, remembering Our Lady of Lourdes. We celebrate the Eucharist at the Hospital, praying for the sick and those who take care of them. At the Offertory people offer money and soap. At the end of the Mass we distribute these gifts to the sick present at the celebration. It's a small gesture but done with great generosity by those who have few resources but giving with a great heart.  Now we begin our personal commitment for this Lenten Season. Pope Francis recommends that we open our hearts to Mercy: the infinite God’s Mercy and the one and that we share with the needy people.

Messa all'Ospedale, con i doni per i malati
Messe à l'Hopital, avec les dons pour les malades
Alunni della nostra scuola elementare di Bozoum, con l'Abbecedario in Sango preparato dagli amici di SIRIRI.ORG di Praga
élèves de notre école primaire de Bozoum, avec l'Abécedaire Sango preparé par les amis de SIRIRI.ORG de Prague

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Quiet life in Bozoum

fiori selvatici
fleurs de la brousse

Quiet life in Bozoum
I could finally have a week almost peaceful in Bozoum, no travel or others stressing commitments. To be honest I began the week with slight malaria, but thank God, it was very weak and has gone soon.
During these days several works here in Bozoum are going on. On one side Lia and Massimiliano are painting part of the warehouse, while at the same time we continue the great work in order to enlarge the church, work guided (sweating a lot!) by the very talented Enrico Massone. This is a real big job, which will reinforce the church structure and, above all, will enable a greater capacity. The work is now progressing, but we must also take into account the slowness of transportation for the delivery of concrete and iron. But we are positive and let's move on!
On Thursday arrives among us the young friar Fr. Andrea from Arenzano (Genoa) together with Steeven a young guy.
No lack of reinforcements and it's so nice to see in everyone the enthusiasm and the will to cooperate taking generously part in the work.

Lia e Massimilano al lavoro

Manghi in fiore
les fleurs du manguier