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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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Happily back home in Central Africa. I left the city of Turin on December 22nd, and after spending the night at Paris Airport, my flight landed in Bangui the day after, December 23rd evening. The all flight was smooth.
Saturday 24th I left around 5.30am and just before noon I was here in Bozoum, after 400 km of dusty and battered roads, especially the last 90 km. I found the whole Mission restless due to the last Christmas preparations: crib, decorations, singers and altar boys practices. At 7.00pm we begin the “Midnight Mass”. It’s a very solemn celebration, with beautiful songs, dances and a large number of altar boys, at least 60 of them. The schedule is due to tradition and also to security reasons.
On Christmas day at 8.30am we celebrate the solemn Christmas Mass. Large crowd of faithful, and the new church is full! Many children come to Mass carrying little toys, a doll, a balloon, sign that "Baby Jesus" did pass through our houses too.
These days there is a lot of dust, which limits visibility to a hundred meters. We didn’t have white snow, but all over there is a veil of dust covering everything. Since the day I'm back many friends come to greet and chat with me. It's nice to see each other again! These days will come here our young students in formation living in Bangui. Fr. Federico will be with them. A much needed breath of hope!
 In Bozoum I had some good news too: the UN peacekeepers, who had left in November, are finally back assuring their presence. Although little is better than nothing!  We start preparing the Agricultural Fair 2017, scheduled for late January. We hope to accomplish our project. So far, despite the promises, we have not yet received any funding.
And before reaching the conclusion of this year 2016, I would like to say a word of gratitude to the group of translators: Fr. Raffaele, Regina, Ludmila, Terezie and Martin, Fr. Juan Montero and Sister Maria Nazaré. They are the people involved in translating the blog in English, German, Czech, Spanish and Portuguese. Thank you, Merci, Danke, Dekuyeme, Muchas gracias, Obrigado!
n° post
 vues 2016


And best wishes to all for the incoming New Year given to us. I wish great hope and, above all, the certainty of being always in good hands: those of God.

entrando per la Messa di Mezzanotte
l'entrée pour la Messe de Minuit

non è nebbia... è polvere
ce n'est pas de brouillard... c'est la poussière