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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bozoum-Bouar: back and forth

Bozoum-Bouar: back and forth
Saturday morning we have invited fifty Bozoum teachers, to make a point about the situation of the project "Learning by playing” that we carry on since 2 years ago, with the Prague friends SIRIRI.ORG. At first we introduce them at the classes of C.I. (First grade) where they can see the children who are already able to read and write. It's a very interesting method, able to provoke the curiosity and the interest of children. Associated with native language (Sango) enables pupils to learn quickly and much better than with the classical methods followed here (memorizing, beginning with the French ...).
Sunday afternoon along with Ludmila and Fabrice, members of SIRIRI.ORG, we leave towards Bouar. There is also Alberto, who was here to reopen, at least for a week, our dental office.
When in Bouar I am involved in various meetings with our Delegation of the Discalced Carmelites. We come from all communities in order to reflect and discuss about our missionary work.
Monday is dedicated to the way how we form our youth. Are here also Father Domenico and Father Marco, arrived the day before from Yaounde, Cameroon, where they are working for some years now. We cooperate with them in training some young Cameroonians who are in the Novitiate and Philosophy curriculum here in Central Africa, while two Central African students are in Yaounde for their study of Theology. The educational work is very demanding, and we devote a lot of energy in the various houses: the Seminary of Yolé, the Novitiate in St. Elie (Bouar), the Student Residence of Carmel in Bangui.
On Tuesday we gather to have a chat with the Finance Commission, which brings together Superiors and Treasurers. It is also an opportunity to thank all those who in one way or another, help us and allow us to help.
In the afternoon I go back to Bozoum to accompany Father Marco Gazzoli with my commitment to be back again in Bouar the day after, Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday afternoon I have a meeting with Caritas. The National Director Father Luk is here. He came from Bangui, along with two of his staff, and three people from the Caritas of the Diocese of Kaga Bandoro. It’s a great opportunity to know each other, share experiences, and ask ourselves what can / should be done, especially with the problems due to insecurity in these areas.
Friday I’m back to Bozoum, living the journey of Lent also through the Way of the Cross, always very well attended by our parishioners.


Il Convento di St.Elie a Bouar

vetrate di St Elie

Via Crucis a Bozoum

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lent, schools, roads, weapons and displaced people…

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:

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

Aggiungi didascalia

école de Ngaundaye


KONDO: la gallina
KONDO: le poulet

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Lent 2017

Lent 2017
Last week was marked by the visit of the Cardinal, the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalainga. Here is a short video of the Cardinal's visit to Bozoum - Bocaranga:
On Sunday, after Mass, forty Scouts have made their promises in front of the parish community. It was an intense moment in which girls and boys have promised to live with respect for God and neighbor, according to the spirit of Scouting. Last Wednesday began the Lent season: a long period (40 days) of "reliability": it demands to take "seriously" our personal lives as Christians, following the invitation of the Word of God who constantly recalls us the duty to return to Him. It’s a long journey, that passes through three major steps: charity, prayer, fasting: love in action, love demanding to give yourself a special time staying close to God, love able to make sacrifices.
Wednesday morning we climb the hill overlooking Bozoum, Mount Binon. Here we celebrate the Mass, in which we received the mark of the ashes. There were many people, who then remained here in silence and prayer for most of the day.
Thursday morning I leave towards Bangui where I have few meetings, and on Friday I drive back home together with Fabrice Martin and Ludmila Böhmová, members of NGO SIRIRI.ORG, of Czech Republic. Are years that we work with them on various projects. We stop at Bossemptele, visiting the school where they began the methodology that started the project "Learning by playing". Upon my arrival in Bozoum I’m just on time to see the presence of some Organizations, which have just finished distributing the primary need supplies to more than 200 evacuated families who, from Bocaranga, have found refuge in Bozoum.

Promesse Scout

Salendo sul Mt Binon
en montant sur le Mont Binon

Fabrice e Ludmila (SIRIRI.ORG) a Bossemptele

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Cardinal on a tour

A Cardinal on a tour
Here is the surprise of this week: the visit of the Cardinal, the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalainga!
As soon as he was elected Cardinal he planned a visit to all the dioceses of the Country, and he began right from our, the diocese of Bouar.
Wednesday morning he left the Capital, and after a stop at the parish (and hospital) of Bossemptele, at 5.00pm arrived in Bozoum   A large crowd came to welcome him, right on the road leading to the Mission. We joined him, with songs and shouts of joy and few unintended pushes, to the church where he could pray and address his first greeting to the people. People are more than enthusiastic, also because it he is the only prominent figure and reference for all Central Africa.
Thursday morning we have a busy schedule to enable the Cardinal to come to know the various entities of the parish, and then ready to continue on his pastoral journey. At 6:30 am Mass: despite the early hour, the church is packed. It is a beautiful celebration, with dancing, singing, prayer, listening to God's Word, and to the words of our Cardinal: an invitation to always trust in God, to grow in faithfulness to His Love and the love that reaches all the brothers, without distinction, and look beyond in order to build the Country's future with reliability. After the Mass we went to visit with him the High School, where teachers and students welcomed him with joy, listening carefully his message of trust in the young, and of responsibility for everyone to build up a serious future full of hope, dreaming an honest work by following their studies.
Then we went to visit the Elementary school, and after, we had a meeting with the Parish Council in order to make him known about the realities of the parish. They listen to his advice and encouragement.
We end with a meeting with antibalaka, the rebels who disseminate fear and worry. They listen to him carefully, even if his words go straight to the heart of the problem.
After greeting the Sisters, we head towards Bocaranga, a city far from here 125 km. Bocaranga, on February 2, was attacked by dozens of Peul, which killed 21 people, burned the market and many shops, spreading terror during never ending 4 hours. People fled, some of them came to Bozoum. And all this happened despite a contingent of UN peacekeepers, who did not intervene, allowing the massacre.
Along the way many villages await the Cardinal! I leave right away to forego, notifying villages, and possibly signaling whether there are security problems. We stop in Tolle, 60 km from Bozoum, where Cardinal wants to greet all the people sharing together a moment of prayer. I go ahead, and 3.00 pm I'm in Bocaranga. There are a lot of people waiting for him: it is virtually the first moment of happy celebration and calm for the people of the city and the thousands of evacuees. The welcome is triumphant, and in a jubilation of songs, joyful screams and dust the Cardinal and the people walk towards the church. After a moment of rest, we meet with the missionaries and the Sisters of Bocaranga, together with Ndim and Ngaundaye Missions. It is a very intense moment in which the Cardinal expresses the gratitude of the Church and of the people for the faithful presence, despite the dangers and war. There are young Sisters and Fathers in their 80s, some of which are in Central Africa since 1960!!! 
Friday morning we celebrate the Mass. here too it’s a very solemn celebration. At 6.30 the church is already full, and many need to take place outside! After Mass, the Cardinal meets with students and teachers, and then he meets the people of Bocaranga, ending with a conversation with antibalaka. To them, as he did in Bozoum, the Cardinal recommended to have a better vision of the life looking far, taking roads of peace, of reconciliation, of construction and not destruction and killings. 
At about 11:30 the Cardinal leaves going towards Bouar while I stay because of some meetings with Caritas of the Parish and some agricultural cooperatives, to see how to help the city and the thousands of evacuees who have fled and here took refuge. The needs are huge!
It is sad to see the abandonment by the State of much of the territory. Here, the Government seems to have only rights and no duties: the roads are a joke, schools and hospitals are left to the sensibilities of parishes, NGOs and people of good will; the police are absent and powerless. And this goes together with the presence of a large UN mission, which, despite an impressive deployment of people and resources, seems not to have a clear desire for peace.
It is emblematic of what I'm saying this simple fact that I witnessed this morning. During the meeting with pupils and students, a girl 14-15 y.o. has brought a letter in which she explains the situation to the President of the Republic. And she said (I quote): "I hand it over to you, Your Eminence, so for sure you give it to the President of the Republic: because if I give to others, will never come into his hands" !!!

Bozoum, Lycée St Augustin

Bozoum, école Bakanjia

Bozoum, école Maternelle


Un antibalaka... armato e non disturbato da nessuno!
Un antibalaka, armé...

Bocaranga, riunione con i religiosi e le religiose

Bocaranga, riunione con gli antibalaka