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Sunday, June 18, 2017

School year is (almost) finished





School year is (almost) finished
In June, even in Central Africa, the end of the school year is coming. And here at Bozoum, at the Mission is an opportunity for a huge celebration for over 1,550 kids attending our schools: the kindergarten “Ste Marthe” (150 children), the Elementary School "Isidore Bakanjia" (850 students), the School of Literacy (130 kids), Secondary and High School (250). Not to mention the Orphan Center "Arc en Ciel" with nearly 200 children aged 4 to 14 years.
This week the schools have held the Councils of Professors, and we, with the teachers were very much committed in preparing the report cards.
Yesterday, Friday, we reached the end of the year dedicated to the Orphan Center. Under the guidance of Sister Christine, the kids with a lot of liveliness did celebrate in songs, performances and dances. Today morning we will give the Report Cards to the boys and girls of "St.Augustin" (Secondary and High School), and the best students of each class will be awarded a scholarship, which the CCVM (Sales and Marketing Clubs) of the Province of Cuneo made it available.
See you next week for the second episode!

Ospite di passaggio in alta uniforme












Saturday, June 10, 2017

Refugees, houses and schools.

 


Refugees, houses and schools.
After the Caritas meeting in Bangui, on Saturday morning at 5.00am, I leave with the Vicar of the Diocese, Abbé Mirek. I stop at Baoro, where I meet the community and, above all, I greet Father Lionello who, in the coming days, will definitely will be back to Italy (as for now), after five years of missionary work. In the afternoon I drive toward Bouar and in the evening, after nearly 600 km, I reach Bozoum.
Sunday is the great feast of Pentecost, in which we remember the gift of the Holy Spirit, who conquered soul and heart of the Apostles and threw them on the ways of the whole world to proclaim Christ.
Monday morning I’m again on the road driving towards Bouar, to meet the communities of St.Elie and Yolé, to analyze with them the training work with our youth.
These days, news about Central Africa continues to be worrying. Yesterday afternoon an armed group broke into Ndim (170 km from Bozoum), and stole a hundred cows, including those of the nuns community. I just received an official report from HCR (Haut Commissariat des Réfugies) which says that by May 31, are 484,028 displaced persons (technically "internally refugees") and 503,600 refugees abroad. They make a total of 987,628 people, on a population of about 4 million, a quarter of the entire Nation.
And finally, here is a couple of good news.
This week there was the BC exam (which takes place after the second year of High School), and the guys at our Lycée St.Augustin have had a great result: among 25 candidates, 24 are promoted to the next grade. Our students occupy the top 22 positions as the best results for the test.
We also finished a first group of 14 houses for the poor, built with the help of Cordaid, Caritas of Holland. Other 16/18 houses will follow, which will allow elderlies, widows and victims of Seleka and antibalaka to have a decent home.












p.Lionello

Saturday, June 3, 2017

From one month to the other.







From one month to the other.
Finally home! The first days, back in Bozoum, are really busy. There is the Parish with its rhythms and commitments (we are having the year-end catechism tests), there are the various ongoing projects, and Caritas on top, there is the closing of the school year, and so on!
On Wednesday, May 31st, we climb a hill overlooking Bozoum, where on a trellis there’s a statue of Our Lady, who watches over the city. We are a very large crowd (mostly girls and women) going to celebrate the Mass and consecrate the city in order to have Bozoum under the Blessed Virgin’s protection. I bless the city with a statue of Our Lady of Loreto, which Italian friends gave me a few weeks ago. We leave the hill, and down, at the beginning of one of Bozoum neighborhood I pay visit to Madeleine, an old blind woman giving her the offerings that the faithful have shared during the Offertory. In this way our prayer becomes a bit like the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.
The situation in the Country is increasingly worrying. While Bangui, the capital city, is relatively calm, more than 60% of Central Africa is under the control of the rebels of the various Seleka factions, while other areas are under the control of antibalaka. The government is limiting his interest to the capital, and the rest of the Country seems to have no concern for anyone. In our area there have been attacks in various cities (Niem, Ndim, and Bocaranga) and the future is very uncertain. The Blue Helmets, despite some fatalities among their own militaries, victims of attacks, fail to (do not want to) stop the violence and effectively protect the civilians.
That is why on Thursday I go to Bangui in order to attend to the large Caritas meeting. In addition to the Cardinal Archbishop of Bangui, are present at the meeting other Bishops and Secretaries of the various diocesan Caritas. Others have come from Congo and Italy (Caritas Internationalis) to help us in finding the best way to be more effective in helping the Country to start again, to be closer to the poor and the suffering people, and to help in a better way those in need.
Most of all we are call to do so in the name of Christ, opening our heart to every brother and sister, without any kind of distinction. Just like Jesus did.











Riunione Caritas a Bamgui
Réunion Caritas à Bangui


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Many goodbyes and…. welcome back





Many goodbyes and…. welcome back
Although it's only, so to speak, since 1974 that I travel back and forth through the world (then it was by train from Cuneo to Arenzano where I was in the Seminar, later to Genoa and, since 1992, to Africa) still I find difficult the moment of departure.  Greeting friends, family, confreres is not so easy when you know that the distance, both space and time, will be quite far away. The days before leaving being busy in getting ready  with last commitments and the luggage the  time seems to run at the same time too fast and too slow. But the most demanding are the latest visits, meetings and greetings. But this is life, and going away is also positive. The pain of that moment makes it even more precious to go elsewhere to live in a very far Country. At the end of the day isn’t so far away anyhow:  prayer and friendship do not diminish because of the distance!
I spent the last weekend in Cuneo. I've met again so many great people. On Sunday morning I celebrated in my Parish dedicated to the Immaculate Heart, and then at 11.00 am in Montanera, a little village in the open countryside. Here, the pastor was able to involve all parishioners in sharing solidarity with Central Africa.
On Tuesday the alarm clock wakes me up before 03.00 am. I load the last suitcases, and with Marisa, my sister I leave. A short stop and here the surprise: I find at 03.20 am still nighttime, a friend, Paolo Silvestro, who accompanies us to Turin. We have one last cappuccino together, carrying the boarding pass and luggage, and giving one another the last hugs. I began boarding, and after more check-ups, one last greetings and away.
At 6.00 am the plane leaves for Paris, and from Paris I reach Bangui, where my flight arrives with a slight delay, at 4.30 pm. Passport control, luggage recovery, luggage control, and finally off!
The next day, on Wednesday, after meeting the Friars of the community, I leave towards Bozoum. The car is packed with many things: my luggage plus bags of seeds to be distributed. They are a gift from “Seed Programs International, USA”. The distance isn’t short but finally the 400kms end, and at 05.00 am finally I reach Bozoum.
On Thursday 25th here in Central Africa we celebrate the Ascension, and I preside the Eucharist, which allows me to greet and pray with my Christians. In this way I restart my normal life in Bozoum.
And happy birthday!