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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The wealth of Central Africa

The wealth of Central Africa
Is true that in Central Africa there is not much money, but at least some little certainties there are. Wages, especially for a number of officials and teachers, a few shops, many informal businesses, and the fruits of agricultural work allow the population to have enough to live on. One of the difficulties of the people is to have a safe place to deposit their savings. Often you need to have a small credit for school tuition, or to start a small business.
And for this very reason in 2007 we founded the Bozoum Savings Bank and Credit. At present it is recognized by both the government and by COBAC, the Central African authority who supervises microfinance institutions. The Bank has 5 branches: Bozoum, Bocaranga, Koui, Ndim and Ngaundaye. In addition to the savings service, the Bank grants also loans and provides the possibility to transfer money among branches and, which is great, between Bozoum and the Capital.
Last Saturday the Bozoum headquarters held the General Assembly. The results that have been presented are impressive. Only here in Bozoum there are 2,253 members with an active account. If each account matches one family, it means that there are between 11,000 and 13,000 residents that have an account in our Fund. The reality is that more than half of the population is reached by this service! The total amount of money deposited exceeds 186,000 Euros!  It is such a great job to serve the people, raising with this help the ability to save and create development.
This week we go ahead with the extension works of the church, despite the rain.
On Wednesday I leave toward Bangui, along with a French Carmelite, Fr. Jean Baptiste, who came for a period of training for our youth. Thursday morning we gather together for common prayer and the Mass. It is exciting to see our lovely group of committed youth: there are students of philosophy and theology, novices, postulants and our young seminarians from YolĂ© seminar. There are also our students from Cameroon. At 8.30 am Fr. Jean Baptiste begins his conversation on St. John of the Cross our founder. A St. John of the Cross sentence stands out in the large room: “At the evening of life we shall be judged on love".

Friday, July 22, 2016


I remained for few days in Yaounde, Cameroon capital, where I arrived Friday late morning. Saturday, July 16, we celebrated, together with the Carmelites, the great feast of Our Lady of Carmel. The celebration takes place in our parish of Nkoabang, in its 60th anniversary of the foundation. Along with some Italian fathers, the Superior of Carmelite Province of Milan, in charge of our Mission in Cameroon and with the Cameroonian friars we take time to pray together the blessed Virgin Mary whom we venerate as Mother and Beauty of Carmel, example and guide in the prayer and consecrated Life. Mary is the One that "pondered these things in her heart" as the Gospels say.
On Sunday we meet once more for another very intense moment: the ordination of two young Carmelite Cameroonians: Brother Martial and Brother Jean Baptiste. A great number of priests concelebrated with the Archbishop of Yaounde. The celebration is marked by much prayer, but also by many beautiful songs and a very vibrant and participated liturgy.
In the afternoon I visit the Carmelite nuns. In Cameroon there are three monasteries, and in this one in Yaounde there are some Italian nuns and other Cameroonians. I stay with them a couple of hours, speaking about our Mission in Central Africa, spending time in telling them about the Pope Francis visit.
Central Africa Republic is among the few Countries   where we, for now, don’t have cloistered nuns. And we pray and hope that sooner or later in Central Africa too we can enjoy the presence of these great women of God, filled with such great humanity.
Monday morning I begin my return trip. I leave at 06.00 am reaching Bouar at 05.00 pm after about 750 km. I stay in Bouar for the night and the next day I resume my driving back home. I take the direct route, which saves me 150 km. I have a bit of fear, because a few days before a confrere, Fr. Anastasio, got stuck on a bridge, with the car just on the edge. Thank God I can go smoothly, and at 11.30 am finally I got home, in Bozoum.
Here the works are progressing, and Thursday we can put on place the first of the three parts of the large truss (31 meters). Here's a little video:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Woman in Mission

Woman in Mission
On Sunday, July 10, we closed the school year of “Cana” in Bozoum the Center of Women Promotion.
It is a Center that we created a few years ago, helping women reaching an education (it lasts three years) in a variety of areas: French language, mathematics, childcare, sewing, cutting, cooking and nutrition, knitting, embroidery ...
It is an activity deeply rooted in our heart. In Central African culture woman is the heart of home and family, but often its role is very limited. Almost all of the family administration weighs is on women shoulders. Unfortunately generally girls don’t have many opportunities to study. Often, after a few years in elementary school, the girls leave studies in order to take care for younger siblings and the house.
That's why we opened this training Center, in which many girls and women are able to get a good education, through which they can then open small activities that help to have some independence and to better deal with their children and family .
The Center is named after "Cana" because it’s at Cana’s wedding (John 2, 1-11) that Mary urges and gets by Jesus his first miracle, which is the beginning of public mission of the Messiah.
Wednesday I resumed my traveling, destination Cameroon (about a thousand kilometers away). I leave taking the straight road from Bozoum to Bouar recently reopened, after twelve years of unavailability. I did face some adventure because of the mud, but I managed to get through, and here I am now in Cameroon with my Carmelite friars.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

We have a dentist now! And there’s more!

We have a dentist now! And there’s more!
For some years we kept opened a Dental Clinic in Bozoum with the help of the Association Friends for Central Africa. Various dentists had alternated for some periods, and then we had chosen to invest in a young nurse, native of the capital Bangui. We helped him in his studies. He did practice with us until October 2013 when he took the decision to leave because he was afraid that the situation of the Country could degenerate. Since then, the Dental Clinic had remained unopened. But these days we were able to reopen it. In Bouar, far 250 km from here, there is an Italian volunteer, Fariselli Alberto, who works in another mission. We invited him. He came and all week has been very busy in removing teeth, filling them, making implants. A large number of patients knock at our Clinic in a happy mood, also because the nearest dentist has his own Dental Clinic in Bangui, 400 km far.
During these days the construction works for the enlargement of the church went on. We are working now at the great truss of the presbytery: over 31 meters! For now a part is ready and hopefully we can put it in place next week.
For sure you remember Hyppolite, a boy of Bozoum who was paralyzed from the waist down in an accident at school. It’s about a year now that he’s in Italy, Savona, where have been treated and cared in his recovery. Emanuela, the Savona mom who has accepted our Hyppolite did send us the following news about him:
Here I am, while waiting to go to St. Peter's Mass, I’m writing few things. Hyppolite does very well, and for this reason is loved by everyone. He continued his fencing training also for the month of June but now will stop for the summer break. At school he did very well: has passed the test of Italian with mark 100 out of 100, he gained reputation for his politeness, seriousness and intelligence. The teachers have asked for some documentation about his educational background for a better understanding about to which class can he be assigned  next year school, during which will attend evening classes because now is an adult and can’t follow the normal curriculum. During the summer, a friend of mine will give him some math lessons while Alessandra will help him improving the Italian grammar. His health is very good: since October no fever and he gained in strength. This morning at Santa Corona hospital the doctors planned a 15-day hospitalization, which will happen in a few months. They’ll perform more specific tests with regard of urinary tract, on posture, and on the aids he needs the most like the wheelchair, because the one he has is very small. Today he made his first swim in the Liguria sea ... discovering that the water is salty. I would say that he is perfectly settled down.  What he needs is the company of friends of his age but, not attending school, is a bit difficult to achieve this goal, however, between gym, beach and everything else we hope he can create friendships outside the family. See you soon, Emanuela.
Thanks to the whole family (Dad Fiorenzo, Mom Emanuela and children Alessandra and Daniele), the Hyppolite Italian family!