Comboni Lay Missionaries

CML in Mongoumba (Central African Republic)

Tere y Elia LMC en MongoumbaDear CLM, friends and family

Peace and good!

We are writing to communicate you a bit of how we are and live the present moment, after the attempted military coup of December 5, our fears, our anxieties,…

When darkness falls in Mongoumba the silence takes the night, we don´t hear anymore the songs and laughter of children who play. We don´t hear the conversations of the neighbors, the drums that enliven the night … just the sounds of nature, the crickets and some nocturnal birds. It is a silence that anguishes because we know that people leave their homes to take refuge in the jungle. They leave because they are afraid. They have fear of Military Seleka and fear of the Anti-Balaka, the new opposition group to the transitional government. Fear of the night, of what may happen.

It is a difficult moment, a difficult time for the country, but in Mongoumba we are in a different situation, we can say that we live in a small paradise. A little paradise where the difficulties are not lacking, where we try to give continuity to our daily activities, the different projects: health, education and pastoral. At the same time we try to live next to the people sharing with them the difficulties of every day. We talked about a little paradise because the situation of the town with its natural boundaries (the river), allow us to continue to a nearly normal life, nearly normal, but we cannot ignore the situation of war, destruction and death that lives the rest of the country.

We hear of the events that occurred, particularly in Bangui, and other locations in trouble, but in Bangui is where the fighting is most intense and where the number of deaths is higher. We hear the news and hear people who have relatives in the capital, what happens in the neighborhoods, the dead bodies in the houses and streets where no one comes to pick them up. The accesses are difficult and people are afraid to go for help.

The news coming from abroad speak of religious war, but we do not feel that way, for us it is a political way to put against one another and where some people take advantage for revenge and personal vendettas. Both Seleka as Anti-Balaka are destroying a village to catch a power that they are not able to control.

The Anti-balaka calls themselves Christians like the Seleka sais they are Muslims, but not all Muslims identify with the Seleka and not all Christians with the Anti-balaka. Which religion would identify itself with groups that spread death and disorder? It is a political problem that false religious believers try to turn it into a religious problem. From the beginning of the conflict the leaders of the major religions of the country work together in an appeal for peace. Almost throughout the whole country have been organized inter-religious committees for the same purpose, including Mongoumba where there is also a risk that people start to look each other with suspicion and can reach confrontations with devastating consequences for the entire town.

Some of our fears are: The number of weapons in circulation. The French military has begun the disarmament, but how many weapons are gone and how many from unknown hands have past for unknown destinations?

Until now, we have lived as spectators in a war that is ours, but the outcomes have not yet touched us…

Kisses to all and keep up with us

Elia and Tere

Our wealth are the poor


Yesterday at the opening Mass of the Pastoral Year I was saying to Christians that the poor are our wealth in the parish and announced that Catherine, Odile and Monique would leave on Monday morning to M’baiki where they shall reside with the Sisters of Teresa of Calcutta.

Catherine, Odile and Monique take over ten years with us. Casually all three are Christian; live in houses of clay in the soil of the parish. None has a family and at the time they were accused of witchcraft, which means death threat, so they found refuge in the parish. They are the “poor of the parish.”

Monique has 95 years according to his letter of baptism, Catherine and Odile exceed eighty. They are very old and deteriorated; we have no strength to continue responding to them with dignity at this moment of insecurity where many, who threw a hand to clean them or prepare something to eat, have fled. They are living in almost inhuman conditions because Monique is paralyzed and blind for years, Odile cannot move and Catherine who was the nurse of the group is with heart problems and cannot fend. Without water, without any hygiene, with nobody to prepare them meal or give them a hand … We decided to move to the sisters of Calcuta where we seek for asylum and they have been accepted Initially faced with uncertainty, they refused saying that they wanted to die in Mongoumba and didn´t want to leave … Then I managed together with Kaos to convince them that it was the best for them … I told them that we will take them, and if they are not happy in one month we will bring them back.

The journey to M’baiki, 90 miles in four hours, has been quite an odyssey. Monique does not stand sitting in the back seat and was lying on top of Catherine, she spend all the journey vomiting. Catherine was scowling and Odile smile every time I asked her if they were going well … it’s probably one of the first times that they have been on the car on a long journey.

Sister Alexandra welcomed us very well when we have reached M’baiki, fully nap time. We have installed our three relics in a room with three beds and foam mattresses, it is the first time they have a mattress. They even have a bathroom with shower and running water in the room… Their somber faces were lit … Monique have been placed on a mattress on the floor to keep her from falling.

We have filled all the forms: name, age, origin, family, diseases, drugs … In the status box sister wrote: “proscribed accused of witchcraft …”. “What if they die? What we do?” I told the sister, knowing how complicated the issue of burying the dead is in this culture, “They have no one I said, they can be bury with no problem, no one will complain …”. Sister asked me to sign as guardian of the three elderly.

Really, we’re going to miss them, but we will remain in touch, they are our treasures, the poor.

Jesus Ruiz (MCCJ in Mongoumba). Pictured accompany the four women, Tere and Elia (CLM).

Project KWE ZO ZO (every person is a person)


Central African Republic

Comboni Family united for a common cause


This year, the Comboni family in Portugal will have as central theme of the year the slavery. Therefore, given the circumstances of the countries in which we work as Comboni family, we have joined in support of a project for the Pygmies of Mongoumba – RCA (where we have our CLM Elia Gomes responsible for the health issues).

The village of Mongoumba is located in the equatorial forest in Lobaye, Prefecture of the Central African Republic, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, in the equatorial forest.

The estimated population is 21,235 inhabitants, with over 50% of young people (under 20 years).

Here are around thirty villages located mainly on the banks of the Ubangi and Lobaye rivers. The population is ethnically diverse; the largest ethnic groups are the Mondzombo and Ngbaka, from the Bantu group. There is still a group of Pygmies Aka, according to the latest census carried out by CARITAS, in 2004, the number of people who belong to this ethnic group was 3089, being distributed in more than 80 camps disseminated in the forest.

Despite being pygmies the first inhabitants of this region, they suffer of discrimination from the rest of the population that uses them as cheap labor and excluded from social organizations.

The economic activities belong to the primary sector: coffee, bananas, cassava, hunting, fishing and gathering fruit. In this area existed logging and mining companies exploiting the natural resources causing the disruption of the balance of the ecosystem and destroying the natural habitat of the pygmies.


To support the Pygmy population at health level, the mission -and more specifically the community of Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) present there- intended to serve as a bridge between this population and the local public health center, as well as facilitate the access to Pygmies to medicines, nutrition programs, epilepsy, as well as vaccination campaigns and access to safe drinking water (through the construction of wells in the jungle).

The pygmy population fails to go beyond a collaboration of 2% of the total expenditure on health.


1. Donation of medicines needed for the Pygmies having a financial contribution from them.

2. Health education for individual and group during the consultations and in the pygmy camps in different topics like vaccination and the disease with greater incidence.

3. Accompaniment, medication and training in cases of epilepsy and malnutrition (very common in this region).

4. Creation of 2 wells in the jungle to meet the drinking water needs.

Budget (in Euros) for the development of the activities (for one year):


Finance needed

Drug expenses

3 700,00 €


550,00 €


630,00 €

Vaccination / sensitization campaigns

150,00 €

Construction of 2 wells

250,00 €


5 280,00 €

This project aims to ensure a minimum level of health for the Pygmies of this region (as these are the poorest of the poor).

Along with these activities, the Catholic Mission of Mongoumba does other activities in both education and in terms of Pastoral ministry. Therefore, this project is only a part of the comprehensive work done in the mission.

From now, the CLM community present in Mongoumba is grateful for the cooperation of everyone and especially the attention paid to the reality of the Pygmies. It is, in fact, in constant collaboration that we can continue the Mission and slowly, together, we believe that we can build a better world, “that many have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10, 10).

Note: Currently, in this mission is present Elia Gomes, CLM nurse, who takes care of matters concerning to health issues.

The CLM from Portugal are available to provide any additional information, support, and answer for any questions that may arise:

You can download the project brochure KWE ZO ZO here.

You can follow the project in Facebook here.

Susana Vilas Boas: (00351) 960 145 875 (made ​​part of this community for 5 years).

Sandra Fagundes: (00351) 966 592 658 (treasurer of the CLM)

Donations can be deposited in the account:

IBAN: PT50 0036 0131 99100030116 60



Mission from the fragility

Comunidad de Boda

It’s the first time I get to the mission of Boda. We decided to celebrate the feast of Comboni with our brothers in Boda who have had a difficult time with the Seleka conflict, as they have repeatedly been ransacked the house and stolen almost everything. In Boda live these three Comboni brothers tested by the Mission: Adelino with 70 have very poor health, Berti with 74 remains an off road in the parish of Boganangone, and Claude, a centralafrican of 45 years.

Sister Margarithe, from La Martinique, tells me the suffering of her people. She works at the hospital in the city, but in August the doctor and the midwives fled because of the violence of the soldiers and now many women give birth in the jungle and not few mothers and children die. Each day in the hospital you have to face the inhuman conditions in which these people live.

It is in this context of insecurity and suffering that, to celebrate the feast of Comboni, Adelino invited us to meditate this morning on the “Mission from the fragility”. Based on the experience of the Church of Algiers proved twenty years ago with many martyrs as their Bishop Pierre Claverie, the seven monks of Tiberine or the four white fathers and many other missionaries and Christians… we reflected what it means to live the mission in our particular situation of pain and suffering, a Mission from the fragility.

In this moment we are called to live the mission with bare hands. It was not us who have chosen this time of trial, was our Lord, the Suffering Servant, who has brought us this far.

When we do mental cabals asking “What would be the ideal time for the mission?” we mess ourselves with utopian future events away from the heart of God. That ideal time of the mission doesn´t exists; the best time is today, the present… The four white parents murdered in Algeria were aware of their vulnerability and so had chosen “the fragility as the language of love …”. This time invite us to a second election they said, move from “a spirituality of development to a spirituality of presence and dialogue.” Definitely it is not but follow the model of Jesus in the flesh to live the life of men. “Learning our helplessness and be aware of our radical poverty, of our radical being naked in front of God, cannot be more than an urgent call to create no power relationships with the other; having recognized my own weakness I cannot just accept the weakness of the others, but I can even live my invitation to make mine this weakness imitating Christ poor” (Cristel, White Father).

The real dialogue is located in the no power, rooted in the weakness and fragility; there is real dialogue only when everyone is confronted with his own vulnerability and fragility. This requires a change of perspective in the style of St. Paul (1 Cor 2: 1-5) which boasts of its own fragility in order to approach the other with the strength of the weakness…

It is true; the weakness is not a virtue, but the expression of a fundamental reality of our being that has to be constantly shaped by faith, hope and charity to conform to the weakness and poverty of Christ. Jesus did not choose strong media; the Church cannot lean on its power or its strength. In these testing times of crisis and trial we are invited to escape from a self-referential Church, a Church that is an end in itself; when the Church touches the weakness and the frailty of men, then, from his own weakness can become mystery of salvation.

Throughout this pedagogy of fragility, following the steps of Comboni, we have seen how prayer is our only strength, so we have meditated on three temptations of our prayer in this time of crisis:


1st) The fear for the future… think that there is no future. We fear that God would open our eyes and undress, we are afraid because we know that when God ask for a hand he takes the whole arm…

2nd) The evasion… Live in a hypothetical future that does not exist, “if we had lived in another time, in other circumstances, with other people …” Avoidance is the fear and the denial of God´s present in my life.

3rd) The impatience… Want everything now, immediately… The logic of God’s patience goes in the other sense… the logic of the cross, of the wheat grain.

No, we haven´t chosen this time of pain and trial, was the Lord Jesus who lovingly led us here in order that from our own fragility and vulnerability, maybe, we can get into real contact with these people humiliated and outraged.

“Why do you stay?” were asked those in Algeria. This is the place of the Church, the Cross of the Lord.

By Jesus Ruiz (MCCJ in Mongoumba).