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Saturday, January 28, 2017


With our latest news we left you all last Friday, while we were still in Johannesburg, where we went to see the machinery for bricks manufacture. After two fruitful days of work, on Saturdays I and Enrico Massone took a tourist day! With a lovely train / light metro, we went into town and we began visiting around with a coach.  Johannesburg is a quite varied city, with a lot of green, a very large number of trees planted to decrease the dust of gold mining. We visit a nice park, where the zoo is located. Many families go there for a visit or a picnic.
We go through very beautiful and meaningful areas, as the square of Mahatma Gandhi, who here started his life as a lawyer and his non-violent struggle. We visit the Apartheid Museum too, which tells the sad story of this Country, but also the struggles and hopes of many people, among them the great Mandela. In the evening we approach the airport. Our flight, scheduled for 1:15am, is announced with a delay. Finally we leave at 2:30am. At Nairobi airport we face the same need to afford a fast running in order to catch the next flight. At 9.00am we are already in Bangui, after 7 hours, due to the difference in time zones.
In the afternoon we welcome Father Davide, the secretary of the Nunciature. He came for a visit with some Italian friends. Among them there’s Dr. Mariella Enoc, CEO of the hospital "Bambino Gesù" in Rome, appointed by Pope Francis to help the Children's Hospital and facilitate the homecoming of refugees. Monday morning I carry on a few appointments. Around noon I leave Bangui, and at about 6.00pm I’m in Bozoum, after the usual 400 km of holes on the pavement, barriers etc.
This week I deal with different issues. I need to control the rice grown here in Bozoum, rice that the WFP (World Food Project) intends to buy in order to distribute it in schools.   But there is a problem that bothers me: insecurity. At least are two weeks that we are without Prefect and Vice-Prefect. On top of this the UN troops have left the city. Often there are gunshots, and anti-Balaka (former rebels, now clearly bandits) act as the real bosses. So on Wednesday I invite them to a meeting. The participants are around 20 persons, including those responsible for the “Conseil des Sages”, some young people and some antibalaka. We discuss a lot with the goal to stop them and to build a minimum of civil coexistence for all. Let's hope!
Thursday we have another meeting to discuss the Agricultural Fair. Despite the insecurity, and despite the fact that we will miss the farmers of Bocaranga, Ndim and Ngaundaye (we don’t want to endanger them), we finally decide to go ahead with the project. So Bozoum on February 4th and 5th is going to have the great Agricultural Fair in its 13th Edition.
It is a bet on the future, on development, and on the work of so many farmers!


Il Re Leone... un po' stanco
Le Roi Lion (un peu fatigué)

Il monumento a Gandhi

Minusca à Bangui

Controllo dell'umidità del riso, prima della vendita
Controle de l'humidité du riz, avant la vente

Ginnastica per gli alunni della scuola di Alfabetizzazione

Sunday, January 22, 2017


The last weekend in Bozoum we have had a frenetic time.
Friday night, just as I was preparing my blog text, there was much gunfire, rather heavy weapons. The next morning we came to know that a group of antibalaka rebels have returned from Bocaranga and Koui, where they have spent the last month fighting against Seleka and Peul rebels, focusing mainly on robbery and looting. Back in Bozoum, they thought could have been grate to celebrate the end of the year!
The next morning, another surprise: the UN Peacekeepers left Bozoum. So at present we don’t have any law enforcement, no Prefect, no Deputy Prefect, etc. Business as usual!
Saturday our altar boys dismantle the crib, and so we look forward to the next Christmas.
On Tuesday I go to Bangui. Here I find a nice surprise: the refugees who for more than three years were living in tents and chantey cabins, almost all of them, left thanks to an agreement with the United Nations. It's almost impressive to see their absence among the palm trees and listen to the silence. We hope and pray that those who left can rebuild their home and, above all, live in peace and security.
Wednesday afternoon I take the flight with Enrico Massone to South Africa! The trip turns out to be a bit adventurous, first because the plane from Bangui has had a delay of more than one hour, and in Nairobi we have to run if we want to take the next flight, which fortunately is waiting for us. We arrive in Johannesburg at night time. We came here to visit the HYDRAFORM factory, which produces machinery for the manufacture of interlocking brick, made of mud and with a percentage of cement is between 8 and 10% . It's a simple technology, which uses the local mud, and reduces dependence on imported cement. In addition to this, it is a machine that will create jobs. We want to develop this technology for future constructions which we are planning to accomplish (agricultural school and convent in Bangui) and any other future projects (chapels, schools, dispensaries ...). Mud to make bricks! We don’t have much time. Arrived here the night between Wednesday and Thursday, we will leave on Saturday night, so we cannot visit much, but the short visit results to be very positive.
It is always interesting to see how other Countries are growing simply trying to find solutions.

Il sito dei profughi del Carmel, a Bangui. Quasi vuoto, dopo olre 3 anni di permanenza...
Le site des déplacés du Carmel, à Bangui. Presque vide, après plus de 3 ans...

Enrico Massone
la sede della ditta Hydraform
le siège de Hydraform

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Not four but two Seasons

Not four but two Seasons
In Central Africa the seasons are two, instead of four: the rainy season and the dry season. The length of the seasons varies inside the Country. In Bozoum, roughly, the rainy season begins in April-May, and ends in October-November (7 months) and the dry season It runs from October-November to March-April. We are therefore in full dry season. No rain for five months, frequently windy weather with the consequence of many forest fires that devastate the savannah, not forgetting the great amount of dust everywhere. Between November and January the temperature drops a lot at night reaching also + 7 Celsius. During the day the sun does his duty, and the temperature rises up to 34-38 degrees. But being very dry, the heat is bearable. Traveling is easier than during the rainy season also if we have to face very dusty roads.
What have we done this past week?  On Monday we delivered the report cards to the students of our St. Augustine’s Middle and High Schools. Tuesday afternoon I have had meetings with NGOs working in Bozoum. Wednesday afternoon I leave towards Bouar, daring to take the direct route. This means that I have to drive the distance of only 110 km instead of 250 km and in much less time, from 5 hours to 2 hours and a half! 
Since July this road wasn’t practicable because of broken bridges and the wade of a creek.
I can drive quite well. What makes me mad it’s that this road is under a repairing project since 4 years ago, and the constructions work isn’t over yet! The project was entrusted to a Company that didn’t finish the job. The Government then took over but at least are now six months that the machinery remain on site without working.
Once in Bouar I did visit our Yolé and St. Elia Communities, where the Carmelites are so much engaged in educational and training work. I spend my time from one meeting to another, moving with ease to various topics, like: the situation of the Country, the breeding of rabbits, the school, the building of a wall, the formation of novices, the activities of Caritas and Justice and Peace, a cooking recipe, the development of a project for people with AIDS.
Friday morning I leave Bouar, reaching Baoro, where I meet the Community. After lunch I'm again on the road and after a stop in Bossentele, I’m back in Bozoum before 6.00 pm with just enough time to say goodbye having to run to repair a wire, because we're without water. A half an hour of work and the pump starts again, and there is water for everyone.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A New Year!

A New Year!
The old 2016 is gone, and we entered once more in a brand new year! In Bozoum the beginning is calm but full of joy.
On December 31st at 5.00pm we celebrate the Eucharist thanking God for the gift of life and, above all, for His faithful presence. We have dinner with the Sisters, and after watching a nice movie, around 10pm we go to sleep. It seems that even without our support, the New Year has begun! Here in Bozoum most of the people spent the night dancing, singing, without missing the shots ... which fortunately did not do damage, with the advantage of wasting ammunition and more, which could be used with risky malicious intent.
Sunday January 1st, we all meet at the church for the Celebration, while for several days we hear people wishing here and there "Happy New Year”.
On Monday morning I leave going towards North visiting other Missions mostly directed by Capuchin Friars. The whole area is infested by armed gangs. The tension there is very high. Just two days after we did pass through, a member of UN Peacemaker was killed, at 30 Km from Bocaranga. Arriving at Bocaranga barrier we find the Gendarmes together with the Antibalaka rebels.  At Ndim the sisters tell me that people have a lot of fear, to the point that they no longer go to the hospital.
I reach in the evening Ngaundaye located 205 Km from Bozoum. Here I meet Fr. Piotr, which tells me that the activities are almost paralyzed because of the rebels. He was unable to celebrate Christmas Mass in the villages, because the rebels didn’t allow to. I also meet the sisters, including one native of my own village Vinadio (CN), Sr. Renata Dutto. The conversation came out multilingual:  French, Piedmontese and Polish. I went to visit Francis’s farm too, an 84 year old Capuchin, who walks with a help of a cane, but when he is on  the fields abandons the cane and goes ahead almost running. Are many years that among other things he deals also with grafting: he has selected more than 30 varieties of mangoes!
The next morning we go back, stopping by Ndim, where the schools just reopened. Here too there are the teachers formed in September by the NGO SIRIRI of Prague, with the "learn by playing” method. I visit the elementary classes, and I can see that the kids begin to read and write in Sango. Around 7.30pm we are in Bozoum after driving 410 km of roads very devastated, and being victims three times of flat tires.
During these days I am able to prepare the Bozoum newspaper, "Le Saint Michel". Here it is:

i manghi innestati di Fra Francesco
les manguiers greffés du frère Francesco

les routes...

con l'aiuto del maestro
avec l'aide du maitre

e da solo
et maintenant tout seul

antibalaka all'opera
un antibalaka à Bocaranga