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Sunday, July 5, 2015

News report from Cameroon

News report from Cameroon

The various translators of this blog are complaining (!?!?) that my weekly chronical is too short. OK with me. I'll try to make them work a bit 'more! Saturday I left Bozoum driving toward Bouar, where I spent the night. Sunday morning I’m on my way to Cameroon. I travel together with Fr.Federico, Fr. Cyriaque, and three young Brothers (Mickael, Martial and Regis). We want to reach the Community of our Brothers in Yaounde, the capital, to attend a training session on the Carmelite Reform, in this centenary year of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, our foundress. Along the way there are very few cars. On this route there are often attacks by rebels: we can see trucks and cars burned. We understand that we are going to find problems at the border. Finally we reach the border, and here begins the adventure. As for the Cameroon side they don’t allow our Central African Brothers to go beyond. We try to be in touch over the phone with the Embassy of Cameroon in Central Africa. They, before leaving, did assure us that they would have alerted the border and that we could go through without problems! After several hours of waiting, Fr. Federico and I decided to go ahead, to see if through the city of Bertoua (the regional capital) we could contact local authorities asking them if they could allow our Central African Brothers to pass the border and enter in Cameroon. Next morning we meet the police officer in charge of Immigration. This officer too tells us that he can do nothing. At 10.00am comes the OK by the police, finally informed by the Embassy of Cameroon, and around 01.00pm the three Brothers are able, with a bus, to move toward Cameroon. At 05.00 pm we welcome them leaving immediately for Yaounde. A distance of 400 km is in front of us, but finally we reach our parish Nkoabang close to the entrance of the town. At about 10.30pm we can finally hug our brothers in Nkolbisson. Tuesday morning began the training session, led by Fr. Silvano Giordano, a member of our Carmelite Province, Professor at the Gregorian University in Rome.

We work together with the Carmelite Friars living in Cameroon. Are almost two years at present of cooperation. Their young candidates come to Central Africa to live their formation as Novices, while our students come here to Cameroon to carry on their theological studies. For me it is also an opportunity to meet the Friars of our common Province (Fr. Domenico, Fr. Marco, Fr. Silvano), to discuss and reflect, but also to give one another the healthy gift of a good laugh.

Thursday I make myself a special gift. Early morning I drive toward south through the city where a very heavy traffic demands almost two hours to cross it!  At 01.00 pm I arrive in Ebolowa, 175 km from Yaounde. Here I meet with joy the family of Simon and Hosanna, which in 1994 had fled from Rwanda reaching the RCA in 1955. They did stay with us in Bouar, where Simon worked as a mechanic. I meet Hosanna, his wife (still young!) and their 4 children: Christian baptized in Bouar, Nicole (born and baptized in Bouar) and the two daughters (Michelle and Rolande). We spend a bit of time together, going back to the time we lived together in Bouar. Slowly the kids, at that time very young (3 y.o. Christian and just born Nicole!), awakens memory and the joy while remembering those beautiful moments. This family is an image of millions of African families, forced by war and violence to flee their country! The father and mother were born in Rwanda. As for the 4 children: one is born in Congo, one in Central Africa and 2 in Cameroon! In the evening I drive back to Yaounde enjoying, so to speak, another 2 hours of heavy traffic in Yaounde. The city is waiting for the visit of the French President, François Hollande, and the traffic is on tilt, much more than usual! On Friday I get my passport and, so important, the Visa for Hyppolite, the crippled boy who lives in Bozoum. With his Visa, hopefully, at the end of July he should go to Italy for treatment. Another step forward! I’m planning to go back to Central Africa on Saturday. I hope to arrive Sunday in Bozoum, after almost 2,400 kilometers of roundtrip.
Pollaio in costruzione a Garoua Boulay
Poulailler en construction à Garoua Boulay

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Little plants!

Little plants!
Sunday, June 21st, after the celebration of both Sunday Masses here in Bozoum, in the afternoon I put myself on the road to accompany our friends of SIRIRI to Bangui. We arrived there around 7.30pm, after just a bit more than six hours by car. On Tuesday I’m back to Bozoum, just in time to follow in part the beginning of an Enterprise for rice producers. Finally, after many discussions, the Global Fund for Food (WFP or WFP) decided that, instead of getting food to be distributed from countries like USA, Thailand, Pakistan etc., will buy part of the needed amount right here. And here's the training to help the producers to improve the quality and to offer a competitive product. Thanks to a small loan from SIRIRI, we have just started to build a poultry house-school. It will help boys and girls of Middle and High School, in learning how to manage and run a farm. These days the school year of kindergarten and elementary school are reaching the end. Friday afternoon a very large crowd was present to pick up the report cards: over 900 kids, surrounded by moms and dads etc. To the best students we gave a bic, a candy, and a citrus little plant to be planted together with their parents. I am always touched and surprised by the joy of the students, even more by the pride of some parents! Small plants that will grow!

See here, please:

Il pollaio in construzione
le poulailler en constructio

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Smiles and school

Smiles and school
Sunday, June 14, accompanied by not so severe malaria, I celebrated Mass at St. Anthony’s Chapel, who is our patron saint's day. I could see large crowd of devotees, dances and joy almost endless.   On Monday our friends from Prague, Association SIRIRI (Hana, Fr. Pavel, Ludmila and Vojtech), begin to meet the teachers at "Isidore Bakanja" school  to prepare a training session that is going to be held in September, in order to help both teachers and children how to learn and to teach while enjoying it. Schools here, because of lack of books and staff, are carried out usually by one teacher for a hundred children (in our school the students are “only" 30 to 35) who writes what he is teaching and then asks to memorize. Something is learned, but much is lost. In fact, just a funny example, when I enter into a class, children often greet me with a nice "Bonjour Ma Soeur" (Good morning Sister). There is so much work to do, and teachers are excited to learn something new about how to teach. Speaking of schools, we are reaching the end of the school year. Thursday morning I chaired the Council of Teachers at “St. Augustin” where we have students following Middle and High School. On Saturday we handed over the report cards. Thursday afternoon instead it was the turn of the Orphans Center "Arc en Ciel", which welcomes more than 200 children aged 3 to 14 years, supervised by the nuns (Sister Clare and Sister Solange), with the combined help of SIRIRI and  Parish of Cassina Amata (Italy). Sadly in a few months the Franciscan nuns will return definitively in Italy, and so for them this is the last celebration with the boys and girls of the Arc en Ciel. For this farewell children have indulged in sketches, recitation of poems, and dances. How can we not thank God for the gift of life and of children? Their eyes are overly bright. In their looks there is the depth of the world and the intensity of the sky. Their smiles are lives open to and bloom in a future which, we believe and hope (and we work to build it!) will be full of life! Here you have some pictures ... are a good number, but I would have made more if there was more room.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Many needs and many answers

Many needs and many answers
This week I traveled a lot ... a bit 'more than usual! Monday afternoon I went to Bangui, where, in addition to a few meetings, I welcomed the friends of SIRIRI of Prague: Hana Říhová, the President, with Fr. Pavel Pola, Ludmila Böhmová and Vojtech Bily (they lived here with us in Bozoum from October 2013 to June 2014). With them early Wednesday morning we drive to Bozoum where we arrived late morning. The Association Siriri (which in Sango, the national language of Central Africa, means: peace) works with us over the years in different areas: health, education, construction, wells etc. With them we are putting together a small project to help our teachers to improve the way how to educate children, trying to get them to the point to teach with a bit of fun to overcome the simply repeating by heart. Friday morning I move with them toward Bouar. Next is Bossemptele, where we visit the hospital. The Czech Republic is helping the Central Africa with a plan for mothers, to guarantee women access to the hospital for childbirth, before and after natal check-up, etc. Along the way I stopped visiting few schools to ensure that the food that we delivered is actually used by pupils. And I am happy to see that many schools are preparing lunch: rice and beans. At Baoro we stop to visit the Mechanics School, supported by Siriri. At Bouar, more visits! At “St. Michel”, the Center for AIDS patients we meet Brother Angelo Sala. He recently got a device for blood tests, funded by the Czech Republic. In the evening we reach Yolé where there’s our Seminary. Here a local firm has just finished drilling a new well, thanks to the generosity of Italian friends. The needs are many, but there is also lot of generosity, thank God!

Maternità, Ospedale di Bossemptele

Apparecchio per gli esami del sangue. Centro "St.Michel"  per malati di AIDS, Bouar
Appareil pour les examens du sang. Centre "St.Michel"  pour malades de SIDA, Bouar