JPIC_en

Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation

Logbook of Simone from the RCA

Simone Mongoumba

Hi to everyone. How are you doing? I hope you are well. Here the rainy season has begun and, to move around, we could use Noah’s ark. When it rains in Mongoumba, everything stops (I believe the same happens throughout the RCA), the children and the teachers do not come to school, you do not see anyone around and we could sleep all day long, lulled by the sound of the rain, and think of you in Portugal, Poland, Italy, all over the world. Mission has its pros and cons.

ESPERGESIA

I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Everyone knows that I live,
that I’m evil; and they don’t know
about the December of that January.
Since I was born on a day
when God was sick.

There’s a void
in my metaphysical air
that no one must feel:
the cloister of a silence
that spoke on the edge of a fire.

I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Brother, listen, listen…
Alright. And may I not go
without bringing Decembers,
without leaving Januaries.
Since I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Everyone knows that I live,
that I chew… and they don’t know
why there’s a squeal in my verse,
the dark uncertainty of a coffin,
from polished unrolled winds of the inquisitive
Desert Sphinx.

Everyone knows… And they don’t know
that the Light is consumptive,
and the Dark fat…
And they don’t know that the mystery encapsulates
that it’s the musical
and sad hunched back that denounces from a distance
the meridian step from the boundaries to the Boundaries.

I was born a day
when God was sick,
gravely sick.

(César Vallejo)

Simone Mongoumba

In this deep, thick, foreboding, sticky, penetrating, often desolated and discomforting night that envelops the entire Republic of Central Africa, there is lightning of blinding light lasting but an instant. It is the lightning of rifles, of shooting, of grenades followed by an awesome noise… and lightning of ESPERGESIA, lightning GENERATING HOPE.

In Bangui, in the neighborhood called Kilometro 5, in the parish of Our Lady of Fatima where I spent 45 days studying Sango, on May 1, feast of St. Joseph the Worker, during Mass, there was the lightning of weapons, shooting, of weapons, of grenades. It was a well-planned attack by people who want to see the night last forever. There were 16 victims.

We immediately perceived that the rumbling of the thunder of this explosion resounded around the world (someone even wrote to us from Brazil), we have felt the warmth of your nearness. We are OK. We were not direct witnesses. They tell us that slowly the situation is getting back to “normal.” In fact, that is how it is. After the lightning of weapons we have gone back to living in an even darker night.

Simone Mongoumba

In Mongoumbua there is lightning of ESPERGESIA, lightning GENERATING HOPE, infinitesimal, but of a blinding light: our visits to the Pygmies camps; Tuesday morning with the babies of the nutrition center; Sundays in the chapels for prayer with the community, sharing a bit of cassava and some small fish caught just for us; the Thursday meetings with a vocation group; the afternoons spent to draw and color; the endless hikes surrounded by cheering children; and the little newly born Pygmies, bundles looking at you with half open little eyes, who seem to tell you: “I was born on a day when God was sick, very sick,” butif I was born in this infernal night, there is still…

ESPERGESIA

Greetings, a hug and a kiss, prayers and THANKS

Simone CLM

My school

CLM Ethiopia

I’m about to go back to Poland from my mission in Ethiopia. A great part of my service was teaching children in two kindergartens. I taught them English. The schools belong to the Missionaries of Charity (Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta). The first year of my teaching I was more focus on learning than teaching. I observed what other teachers were doing. I simply used to go to school and teach the children what came to my mind or what I found in the Internet. First year sometimes I was really frustrated with the situation in the school, especially with the attitude of the teachers. Some of the teachers prefer to sit all the class doing nothing, while the students repeat alphabet 100 times and even don’t recognize the letters. I could give many examples like this.  I tried to talk to the coordinator of the schools and later also to the Sisters. However none of them hoped to change anything. They knew how they work, they tried to talk to them, to organize a training with psychologist, but nothing has changed.

CLM Ethiopia

However I still wanted to work with them. Last year I started to organize teachers’ training every other week (one Friday in one school, the next week in the another school). Before every training I had to prepare some materials. I learned a lot to be able to share this knowledge with others. I still worked with the children, however at the beginning I prepared the English program for the whole year. I included many games, songs, various techniques and activities so the children had more fun and were motivated to study. Even when I didn’t have a lesson, the teachers should still follow the program and report what they did. I changed my schedule to be able to have similar number of lessons per week with each group in both schools.

I wish I could change something, especially the attitude of the teachers. I’ve learned one very important thing about motivation. Those who daily struggle to satisfy the basic needs of them and their families usually are not motivated to serve others, to do the good work for the society. Somehow it is psychologically justified. Only God can give the motivation beyond that. Some of the teachers really care for the children and their future, for the efficacy of their teaching. I’m sure that it’s God’s influence.

CLM Ethiopia

If the teachers don’t have any motivation coming from inside then they might be motivated from outside. That’s why I’m struggling now to arrange the implementing of the new evaluating system. Up to now, all the workers are very free to do what they want because there are no many consequences of that. If they work hard or are lazy, nothing changes. So now first of all, I’m trying to  encourage the coordinator and the Superior Sister to prepare the new system and implement it.

My work at school was evoluting while I was also developing my knowledge, skills and way of understanding. I know that the most important was not the knowledge I shared with the students or the teachers, but my presence. I’m aware that the children are too little to remember the English vocabulary in the near future. But surely they will remember me as someone who gave them joy and love. If I managed to teach the teachers something useful then it would be for the good of the children. The attitude is the most difficult to change. If there is a little improvement, I give the glory to God, because only He is able to renew the people’s heart.

My presence in the schools was a great lesson to me. I learned a lot not only about the profession of teacher and methodology, but also about the culture, about the people, their needs, their thoughts. Now I can understand them better. I know my perspective is different. I’m not frustrated anymore. I don’t judge them. I tried my best. The rest of the work I leave to God.

So… Who have learned more: the students, the teachers or I? I would say that I… But God knows… I think we all have learned something.

CLM Ethiopia

Magda Fiec, CLM Ethiopia

The Night of desires

LMC RCAMarch 12, 2018

Day 388 Remaining 712

Greetings to all, how are you? I hope well… this Christmas and New Year 2018 were a little strange, spent in the heat of the Central African Republic, wearing a summer T-shirt and eating Portuguese cod… 🙂

THE NIGHT OF DESIRES

It is NIGHT here! A deep NIGHT that envelops everything! A NIGHT that is not like all the other NIGHTS, because it is a perennial NIGHT! It is NIGHT even during the day! We live in this NIGHT, in an infinite present, we live as if there was not tomorrow!

Our schools would need to be restructured because the bricks are literally eaten up by the termites and, when it rains, they get flooded, and during the NIGHT they are inhabited by bats that make your stomach turn…

Our hospital have no medical supplies, there is no food for the patients, and those who need surgery must provide everything down to the last penny…

Our roads have potholes that look like craters because of the big trucks and the rain, and the average speed on the Bangui-Mongoumba road is around 30 km/h and the trip lasts 7/8 hours…

We would need a bridge on the River Lobaye or a new ferry because the big and heavy trucks of the foreign multinationals that transport our lumber from the forest have damaged it… We would need doctors, pediatricians, teachers, instructors, university professors to take care of the new generations, instead…

…more soldiers will come!

Perhaps I am the only one who does not understand how more soldiers may help us come out of this dark and deep NIGHT in which we live!!

The new year has brought us as a gift a new military base in our diocese of Mbaiki… the bulldozer arrived, it flattened an enormous area, it quickly dug a trench, it raised great dirt barriers and behold… a beautiful, new, secure UN military base… to protect us from whom? The Lobaye is the only peaceful area in the CAR!!!

Perhaps I am the only one who does not understand how more soldiers, more arms, more armored vehicles, more resources to keep them going, can help us get out of this dark and paralyzing NIGHT in which we live! Adding the risk that our NIGHT may become even more NIGHT. We are all like acrobats walking on the wire, risking to fall again in our fears, instead of finding the courage to get out of this NIGHT that seems to be eternal!

There is no money for the schools, for health care for salaries for our teachers, for the hospitals, for repairing our roads…

…but there is money for building a new military base and pay 900 soldiers…

Perhaps I do not understand!

Someone asked me what we would have DESIRED on Christmas NIGHT… and for 2018…

…a little bit of LIGHT…

The people who walked in DARKNESS have seen a great LIGHT…

…for those who lived in the shadow of death a LIGHT has shone… (Mt 4:16)

Greetings, a hug, a kiss, a prayer and THANK YOU…

Simone, CLM

World Social Forum and Comboni Forum

Concluding message of the members of the Comboni Family Taking part in the World Social Forum and the Comboni Forum

 TO RESIST IS TO CREATE – TO RESIST IS TO TRANSFORM

 Ministerial methods and networking/cooperation within the Comboni Family and with other organizations

FSM y FCWe, the Comboni missionary lay people, sisters, brothers and priests who took part in the WSF and the CF, greet you from Salvador, the land of black resistance and of Afro-descendant cultures, with hearts full of gratitude and hope. From the 10th to the 19th of March 2018 we lived together a strong and unique experience by attending the WSF, that had as a theme “To resist is to create – to resist is to transform” and the 8th CF on the theme of “Ministerial methods and networking/cooperation within the Comboni Family and with other organizations.” We thank in particular our general councils that together sent us a message of encouragement for our commitment to JPIC and for our participation in the WSF as an experience of how we live our charism in the challenges of today’s world.

Our participation was relevant and numerous: 53 members from Africa, Europe and America. We experienced the great richness of our charism in the variety of our commitments. For the first time representatives of our young people in formation at the scholasticate and at the CIF with their formator attended. We are also grateful for the answers we received from four scholasticates to the questionnaire sent by the central committee with the objective of understanding how much the JPIC themes are present in their formation. We also confirm our commitment to involve always more the people in formation and their educators in the themes of JPIC and in the dynamics of the WSF and of the CF.

In the WSF we, as Comboni Network presented four workshops: Land grabbing, Mineral extraction, Socio-political situation of the DRC and of South Sudan, and the Elimination of violence and gender discrimination. This allowed us to share our commitment as missionaries for the possibility of an alternative world within the methodology of the WSC. A stand, which we set up, allowed us to do mission promotion, to meet and dialogue with many people and be known. From among the many workshops offered by the WSF we followed with great interest the New Paradigms, Theology and Liberation, Youth, the Resistance of indigenous people and of Afro-descendants, Migrations. In the course of the Forum we also attended the women’s world assembly. The WSF took place in a festive climate, only interrupted by the killing of two human rights activists, Marielle Franco in Rio de Janeiro and Sergio Paulo Almeida do Nascimiento in Barcarena, Pará.

The CF took place under the sign of continuity with prior encounters. The days were marked by times of inculturated spirituality when we celebrated life, sufferings and hopes in tune with the situations of the countries we came from or encountered at the Forum. We reflected on the need to deepen our reflection on the new paradigms of mission, of consolidating this experience as a Comboni Family and give wider space for lay people to participate. In this reflection we were accompanied and animated by Marcelos Barros, who shared with us the current state of theology and liberation, and by Moema Miranda, who after an analysis of the world’s situation, proposed some sources of light for the journey as proposed by Laudato Si´. Faced by a neoliberalism without limits, the invitation consisted to introduce the poor to dialogue and to strengthen the faith in the presence of the Spirit of God who walks with us through history.

Stimulated by what we have experienced we propose to:

  • Publish a book that will gather the history and the experiences of these 11 years of CF, showing directions for the future;
  • Enlarge the coordination of the Comboni Network for a better service of animation and formation on JPIC themes;
  • Organize a continental Comboni Social Forum to involve the various realities wherein we work;
  • Create a fund to support the activities tied to our commitment to JPIC;
  • Consolidate an on line platform where to gather and share experiences and material on

After this experience, we realize all the more the importance of meeting again for a greater cooperation within ourselves, to face one another as Comboni Family and as people busy in different fields but united in our commitment to JPIC to look for new ways to minister and new paradigms of mission.

Salvador de Bahia March 19, 2018 Feast of St. Joseph

My travels through the Brazilian Nordeste

LMC BrasilI am already in Açailândia, Maranhão. I am here with Xoancar, Liliana and Flávio. We gave our entire day to the work of “justice on the railway.” Starting from where it connects with the communities impacted by the mining companies, especially the Vale.

Just to give an idea of the dimensions, in this area we find the largest open air mine in the world, 500 meters deep. They take the mineral by train from here to the sea. These are trains of more than 300 cars.

Now they have doubled the railway and expect to have trains with more than 600 cars with trains moving day and night. A mine that could last about two centuries they expect to exhaust it in 60 years. And to achieve this, they disregard everything else.

LMC Brasil

The trains and the trucks cut through the communities or divide them. Contamination is so great that every single thing and the houses are always covered with a layer of iron dust, no matter how much you try to wipe it away. So you can imagine what it does to the lungs, the eyes and the skin of people. Many had to leave home because of sickness. Not to mention the acoustic contamination. Your porch is right on the iron manufacturing. The incandescent refuse piles up behind the houses and many children climb these mounds, but at times the outer cover that already cooled off will break and they burn themselves because beneath the iron is still as hot as lava.

LMC BrasilThey told us of the struggle of the community to look for a place to stay, where each step towards the right to decent housing turns into a street fight. It is a well-organized and well aware community thanks, among other things, to the work and support of lay and religious Comboni missionaries who have offered formation, legal aid, structures… accompanying them in this struggle.

Here the CLM act as people educators and visit the communities (Many are rural reform settlements, namely people who occupy the land in order to be able to cultivate it and claim the right to the land which is guaranteed by the Constitution), give formation to leaders, support their demand, form pressure groups at the international level (the Vale is a large multinational corporation).

LMC Brasil

To get to know this activity a little better, in the afternoon we visited two communities along the rail line (now lines).

Trains of 300 cars go through here day and night every 30-40 minutes. They spread iron dust and blow the horn each time, day and night. This situation does not allow people to walk freely to the land they cultivate, or the children to go to school, or get out of town if there is an emergency because they do not want to build overpasses in each village and the communities have to fight for each one. Things have gotten worse now that the railway has been doubled and so has the number of trains. Several people have already died crossing or have had serious accidents.

LMC Brasil

Continuing my visit in Maranhão the other day I visited places that are very relevant to us, such as the Center for the Defense of Life and Human Rights and the Rural Family House.

The Center carries on several activities on behalf of the community and the youth (theater, dance, capoeira…), and it is open to the community and to its social struggles, but above all it follows as its special activity the fight against slave labor, a practice that is still very much alive in the 21st century.

LMC BrasilFrom there we moved to the rural Family Center with Xoancar and Dina. Young people come to study for a week, (morning, afternoon and evening) then the following week they go back to their community to practice what they learned. We were attended to by the current director, a former student of the RFC who, after attending the university, is now in charge of the program.

Xoancar now works in the “Justice on Rails,” together with Flávio and Liliana. He is beginning a new project of experimental ecological agriculture, sustainable construction and more. On the parcels of land around the Rural Family Center he will create a center of experimentation and reliable methods, both in agriculture and in construction, that will help the farming communities in the area, offering a place where people will be able to learn more sustainable models.

LMC BrasilThese projects have come to be after a lot of work and reflection with the community, taken up by local people, for the majority formed at a university after we got involved with them and supported their projects. They always tried to empower the people involved and leave in their hand a top quality project. This work, with some financial problems but with much hope, has been going on for 18 years.

Here ends my visit to the different places where we are present in Brazil as CLM. It has been a marvelous experience.

I leave here to go to the World Social Forum and the Comboni Forum due to take place in Salvador de Bahia.

Greetings.

Alberto