Lent, schools, roads, weapons and displaced people…
Lent has a place in the liturgical year especially as a period of intense preparation for Baptism. To the catechumens on their journey to be baptized at Easter, is proposed a time of intense catechesis, prayer and penance in order to prepare themselves to receive the sacrament.
In many parishes around the world (especially in mission Countries), there are many people who face with joy the Lenten journey in preparation for their own Baptism. In Bozoum each year there are over a hundred, boys, girls, young people and adults who, after three years of catechism, are getting ready to become Christians through Baptism. Each Sunday, after the celebration of the Mass, we meet for a reflection time and more intense preparation.
Meanwhile the situation in the Country remains of concern. Throughout the Prefecture Ouham Pende (Prefecture as large as Piedmont and Lombardy, whose capital is Bozoum) tensions rise: there are armed rebels movements (RJ, 3R etc.) made up basically by Muslim elements that face other movements (Antibalaka) formed rather from people desperate unscrupulous, dedicated mostly to the theft of livestock and to banditry.
Saturday morning a bunch of these Antibalaka fired on a MINUSCA (UN peacekeeper) car and truck, seizing weapons and phones!
On Sunday, as I was on my way to celebrate Mass at 6:30 am, I notice two armed antibalaka right in downtown. I stop and I began facing them (in words!): "Aren't you ashamed to go around armed with Kalashnikov, using weapons to rob and killing people? In that way you kill the Country too.“ It was just a little discussion, and while restarting the car, one of them threatens to shoot at the tires. Then I drive in reverse gear telling him to retry. We have a bit heated discussion and I leave, while in the meantime a Muslim woman who was passing by, could go ahead unnoticed.
A bit of provocation, to help people understand that you cannot compromise with those who are doing everything they can to destroy the Country.
On Tuesday I leave with Fabrice and Ludmila, members of SIRIRI NGO of Prague. The purpose of our journey: visiting those schools whose teachers participated in the training in September, and verifying the level of teaching with the method "Learning with fun." In the morning we are at Bocaranga, and in the afternoon we continue, through Ndim, reaching Ngaundaye. We begin our visits, followed by meetings exchanging experiences with the missionaries working in these areas.
On Wednesday, after visiting the school in Ngaundaye, we continue our trip to Ndim. Here, inside the area of the Capuchin fathers Novitiate, have taken refuge 70 Peuls threatened by antibalaka. Despite the sadness originated by this situation, it is touching to see the children play with the novices, or busy moms taking care of children, elderly people intent on discussing or writing on wooden boards the texts for the Koranic school.
Going through Bocaranga once more, we hold there a meeting with about sixty of the city teachers: in this tense moment we want to help them with a small monthly fee to stay in Bocaranga committing themselves in teaching. At 4.00pm we leave towards Bozoum where we arrive at 7.00pm. The roads are in very bad shape, but at least we see less armed people along the way.
And finally, on March 8th on the occasion of International Women's Day, Bozoum was in plain sight with a video published by Caritas Internationalis, with an interview with Suzanne, the mother of Hyppolite. She won the Gardens 2017 Competition. You can see here: http://iwd2017.caritas.org/
|pesca a Bozoum|
|Antibalaka alla barriera di Bocaranga|
|I Peuls sfollati nel noviziato dei Cappuccini a Ndim|
les Peuls déplacés dans le noviciat des Capucins à Ndim
|école de Ngaundaye|
|KONDO: la gallina|
KONDO: le poulet