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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Seven novices and a Bishop

La danza in chiesa, a Bocaranga, senza limiti di età
la danse à l'église à Bocaranga. Pas de limites d'age!

Seven novices and a Bishop
At the end of last week a lovely group of seven Carmelite novices came to Bozoum. Five of them are from Cameroon and two from Central Africa. They have already one year of serious experience of community life, of prayer and formation in Carmel. Their coming to Bozoum, together with their trainer Father Alexandre, is an opportunity to get to know our Community lifestyle, in order to have a firsthand knowledge of a community of friars in care of a Parish. In addition to this, the novices will give three catechesis to our catechumens who will receive the baptism at Easter. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday they will meet the catechumens in order to have a conversation with them about the sacrament of Baptism, the Eucharist and Confession.
Wednesday morning I leave for Bocaranga, 125 km far from here. The road is rather bumpy, but in 3 and a half hours I reach the destination. I’m here in Bocaranga for a meeting regarding a training session for the parish Caritas. We are present in five parishes: Bossemptele, Bozoum, Bocaranga, Ndim and Ngaundaye. It is a beautiful moment of comparison of ideas, formation and sharing on what we live and do in our parishes to help those in need and to coordinate the charitable activity.
While we attend our updating course in Bocaranga, we are surprised to receive the visit of the new bishop of Bouar, Monsignor Mirek. He is here after visiting Ndim. All this area is “read zone”. Kind of.  Here the presence of rebel militias (Seleka, 3r, MPC) is a big problem. The Minusca (Blue Helmets) takes action sporadically, and the armed gangs are the scaring rulers: theft, looting, fires, illegal barriers, racketeering, torture, violence. I have just arrived in Bocaranga, when I did see an armored car and other two Blue Helmet cars coming off the Gendarmerie: they were taking away a young man who stole in a store the night before, killing the owner.
The big problem is that the "justice" is not managed by the police or by the authorities, but by the rebellious elements of 3R. They intervene directly, deciding in this case that the young man does not have to be   lynched in the square by the crowd, but has to be brought to another place. I asked myself: which will be the end of that man?
During this week in Bozoum we have also began welcoming about seventy displaced families fleeing the city of Paoua and the surrounding villages, where during the past weeks the violence has been continuously present.
The road to peace is still long and covered by great difficulties. Much more than that between Bozoum and Bocaranga.

Catechesi dei Novizi

I rifugiati di Paoua

Sessione formazione Caritas a Bocaranga

Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 8th and surroundings

March 8th and surroundings
As the Lenten journey continues, and the preparation of the catechumens for their Baptism at Easter is intensified, Bozoum celebrates also the Women's Day.
On Monday I go to Bangui with the UN plane. But there is bad weather, and the air pockets and jolts make me KO for a couple of days! In Bangui, I take a look at the Agriculture School, whose building site continues to grow. On Wednesday I return to Bozoum by car.
Preparations for the Women’s Day celebration needs a few weeks, especially in our St. Augustine High School. Sister Annita is the real engine of these moments, without forgetting that she is also the Vice-Principal. The girls of the Secondary and High school, together with Sr. Annita, organize a moment of reflection and fun, with songs and, above all, dances. And the girls are going wild.
It is also a moment of serious discussion. St. John Paul II wrote: "Thanks to you, woman, for the very fact that you are a woman! With the perception that is proper to your femininity you enrich the understanding of the world and contribute to the full truth of human relationships ". In Central Africa, women do not have an easy life: in their childhood they have to fight in a world where for first comes the male. To struggle for study, for dignity, for the family, for life, all of these are the main problems of all women in Central Africa (and not only!). And the learning curriculum becomes an important part of this effort.
In order to support our girls some friends of Cuneo have launched a beautiful initiative: a floriculturist has decided to offer, in addition to a flowering plant, 1 euro for each purchase which will be destined to create scholarships for girls who attend our school. Long live women!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Providence is there, indeed!

The Providence is there, indeed!
As everywhere in Bozoum too the Lenten journey continues. The preparation of a hundred children, young people and adults to the sacrament of Baptism intensifies. Each Sunday, after Mass, I meet them for a brief catechesis.
Every Friday afternoon a good number of Christians gather for the “Via Crucis”: the way to the Cross, with the 14 stations, where we stop to read, reflect and pray about the Passion of Jesus.
Monday morning we are on the road again! After a brief stop in Bouar, in the afternoon I reach the border with Cameroon. Are with me Fr. Enrico, Fr. Cyriaque and Fabrice Belaguina (a student of “St. Augustin” High School). He now attends the Faculty of Economics at the University of Bertoua. We easily pass the border, and continue towards Bertoua, where we spend the night. Tuesday morning we leave at 5.30am, and at the end around noon we are in the Cameroon capital, Yaounde (850 km from Bozoum).
Here we meet with joy our Carmelite confreres who work here, in the two houses of Nkoabang (parish) and Nkolbisson (House of formation). In the evening from Italy arrives Father Saverio, our Provincial Superior. During a couple of days we meet to discuss the collaboration between our two delegations: here in Yaounde there are our young Friars who study theology, while in Central Africa there are some young Cameroonians for their time of Novitiate and others studying Philosophy.
In these days I experience once more how God’s Providence does not know limits. Saturday morning I received a good news: the Italian Cooperation gave its agreement to finance a photo printer machine for our St. Augustin High School which will give us the possibility to print the school texts. But I I’m facing a problem: the times are very tight. There is a container that is about to leave towards Central Africa, and the machine (200 kg) must be in stock by Thursday. I am traveling, and I trust myself and the all operation to Providence. Here begins an exchange of e-mails, phone calls, messages between Yaounde, Khartoum (Sudan), Bangui, Arenzano, Genoa and Milan. Despite the snow and bureaucratic obstacles, Wednesday night the machine is in stock in Arenzano. I have to tank Andrea, Muhameda, Fr. Davide, Vincenzo, Veronica, Thomas, Andrea, and Domenico.
 Isn’t everything: I did entrust to the Providence the problem which took place when the Caritas car, last January came out destroyed from a very bad accident. I tried to knock at the door of some Organizations, but I didn’t find anybody willing to help us. So I launched a message on Facebook, and in a short time some friends began answering. On the 13,000 euros needed to buy a used car much needed by Caritas, we have already received 4,513 euros.
Manzoni writes in the "Promessi sposi": "The Providence is there, indeed!”.
And how true it is!

Via Crucis

ancora gli orti di Bozoum
toujours les jardins potagers de Bozoum

riunione tra Padri del Centrafrica e del Camerun (e Italia, Nigeria ecc..)
réunion entre Pères du Cameroun et de Centrafrique (et Italie, Nigéria etc)

P.Saverio e p.Domenico

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Projects and achievements

Projects and achievements
Saturday 17th, just a week after the great celebration of the episcopal ordination of the new Bishop, I’m back to Bouar. In the morning I go to visit the Agricultural Fair, organized here too by Father Beniamino and Caritas.
In the afternoon I’m on my way back to Bozoum, but not alone: ​​Fabrice Martin and Ludmila Bohmova members of NGO SIRIR.ORG of Prague are with me. They will stay in Bozoum and in Bangui for the project "Learning by playing" (the new method for the first Elementary classes, which have proved to be excellent for children's learning).
It is also because of them and, above all, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, that last year we were able to treat more than 14,000 people affected by AIDS, and to help more than 58,000 refugees. To follow, an eloquent statistic:
Medical examinations (CD4, IST exams, biology reports
Medicines and treatments for opportunistic infections
School enrolment
Protection of HIV-positive pregnant women and preventions for infants

Monday I should go to Bangui for a Caritas meeting, and I should reach Bangui by plane. "I should", because after 3 hours waiting on the landing strip, finally I’m advised that the plane I’m waiting for cannot land due to dust (brought by the wind from Sahara desert). At 4pm I leave for Baoro, where I arrive at 7pm. Here I stay for the night with my Confreres, and on Tuesday morning I leave by car at 3.30am towards Bangui, where I arrive after 5 hours of driving covering a 400 Km of road.
Here I have a meeting with the community, where projects continue to advance. The future school of agriculture is growing: the use of bricks in stabilized earth (Hydraform) gives an excellent result. I also meet Father Anastasio, always brilliant, despite his age (He is in his 80s, but it should not be said!). I also gladly find Fr. Philippe, a French Carmelite, who will stay with us for a few months as a teacher. At 11.30am I’m at the headquarters of Caritas Centrafrique, but the meeting is postponed. It’ll take place tomorrow, because the leaders of some dioceses have not yet arrived.
On Wednesday morning we begin the Caritas meeting. I am here as the person in charge for Caritas of the diocese of Bouar, and it is nice to be together in this adventure serving the human community, in solidarity and charity. From the work in each parish to the larger projects, Caritas is present throughout all territory. After a while I have to leave in order to go at the FAO headquarters, where I sign, in the name of the Carmelites, an agreement that foresees the intervention of the FAO for our Carmel agricultural Center. Thanks to funding from the Italian Government, 1,500 young people will have the opportunity to study and train in the agricultural and livestock breeding sectors. In the evening it begins raining, and the rain will be with me all the way back home.
Finally on Thursday at noon I’m in Bozoum. 

Foire Agricole Bouar

I nuovi disegni didattici
les fresques didactiques

P.Marie Philippe e la Scuola di Agricoltura
p.Marie Philippe et l'école d'Agriculture