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Saturday, February 18, 2017

From Bouar to Bozoum


From Bouar to Bozoum
On Friday night I’m back to Central Africa, after my visit to Cameroon. I did stop at Bouar where I could attend the opening of the Agricultural Fair, which Caritas has been organizing for 7 years, thanks to the work of Father Beniamino Gusmeroli.
Saturday afternoon I leave with Father Enrico, and through the direct route we arrive in the evening in Bozoum, finally!
In these days we are performing some improvements in the church. I have installed 6 ventilators to improve a bit the old part of the church, were we suffer a very high degree of heat this season. Enrico Massone instead began to apply the tiles to the sanctuary. Thanks to our friend Cesare Biancini (and family) we received the tiles which will allow having a cleaner environment and also a dignified area. It is a long and hard work, but Enrico Massone is used to: this year Enrico is going to celebrate 30 years of working in Central Africa, where he comes regularly each year for one or two months , since 1987!
And next week ... there will be a surprise!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cameroon 2017

Cameroon 2017
I just arrived in Bouar, after a bit more than 2,000 km covered to reach Cameroon, at Yaounde. The week was, as always, quite animated!
On Sunday we closed the Bozoum Agricultural Exhibition. The results, despite the insecurity and lack of many cooperatives, have been good, with a volume of revenue of exchanges around 22 and 30 thousand Euros. On Sunday afternoon we presented the awards to the best exhibitors and the best gardens.
On Monday morning we begin the "Week of Culture” at our High School "St. Augustin". It is a week full of cultural events (film screenings, debates, lectures, dances, competitions, etc.) prepared by the students, together with their teachers and under the direction of Sister Annita.
In the late morning I rush to Bozoum Airport, boarding a small plane of the United Nations, which in an hour leads me to Bangui, where I have some meetings regarding the future construction projects. Tuesday morning we all wake up at 4:30, and after the Mass celebration we leave with Fr.Federico towards Cameroon, which is not just round the corner! At 12.30 pm we are in Bouar, and in the afternoon, after taking with us Fr.Enrico, we continue towards the border.
Crossing the border is always uncertain: sometimes it takes just an hour, sometimes 3-4 hours. We're pretty lucky, and after "only" an hour and a half we are again on the road, and at 7.30pm we reach Bertoua, where we spend the night. Here we meet some Central African friends, who had to flee the Country in 2014, and are seeking to rebuild their business. We leave on Wednesday morning, and at noon we are at Yaounde, at 1,200 km from Bangui. We are here to meet the Friars and our young trainees, but also to make some purchases (seeds, medicines, wood glue…). The time is limited but we take the opportunity to greet the Ambassador of Italy in Cameroon, who in October came in Bozoum.
Friday at 5:45am we leave Yaounde and in the evening we arrive in Bouar. Along the way we meet a group of rebels, who is stationed there for months now, without being disturbed by the security forces or by the UN Peacekeepers. 
At Bouar the situation is quite tense, because there is fear of attacks and riots. In the night between Thursday and Friday there was a general stampede, because of the many circulating "voices".
Suzanne, la vincitrice del concorso degli orti
Suzanne, le lauréat du concours des jardins potagers


La comunità dei Carmelitani a Yaounde

Acquisto di sementi
Achat de semences à Yaounde

Forno a legna a Bertoua
le four à bois à Bertoua

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Agricultural Fair 2017

Agricultural Fair 2017
Despite everything and everyone ... yes, we were again able this year to organize the great Agricultural Show of Bozoum.
We initiated the Fair on 2004 reaching at present the 13th Edition! We wanted it to encourage all farmers and their cooperatives. It is a celebration of farmers proudness.
Since long ago we all believe that there’s no peace without development, and we continue to encourage the efforts of so many women and men of good will, supported by the conviction that it is only with work, patience and  passion that we can build up the dignity of a person.
Unfortunately the 2017 Edition took place in a difficult moment. Just the day before, Friday February 2nd, a band of rebels attacked the town of Bocaranga, 125 km away, burning houses and market, looting and killing at least 18 people. Due to the insecurity we couldn’t invite the cooperatives of farmers from Bocaranga, Koui, Ndim, Ngaundaye and Paoua. Their absence has greatly reduced the presence of exhibitors and the volume of the goods displayed and sold. In addition to this, we have not received any kind of help or funding from the various NGOs, contrary to previous years. But the Providence is great, and we could manage with our few resources! It took almost a month to prepare the Fair. No shortage of volunteers, staff, and also students of the last class of our High School St. Augustin, which proudly and with availability welcome, register and follow the activities.
Saturday morning, however, we are all ready. The exhibition area well cleaned up, the stands are pretty organized and at 9am we start with a little parade. At this moment we should have the usual introductory speeches by the Authorities, but in months there are not Authorities in Bozoum.
The Fair is an exhibition space to show the most beautiful aspect of agriculture and the resulting business. 
In the afternoon we visit a dozen gardens and here too, a feast for the eyes and for the heart!
Simple people, who work hard, and proudly presents the fruits of their efforts. 
Too beautiful!

gli alunni del nostro Liceo
les élèves de notre Lycée St Augustin

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