The Light takes time to appear …
by Sr. Maria Elena Berini with the sisters of Bocaranga (Central Africa)
The shadows extend themselves into the cavity of the fields, robbed of their richness. I contemplate the immense trees with their tormented trunks which launch upwards their branches dressed with a tenderly green colour.
These life images stir up within me a deep desire of Peace, happiness and silence which calm down the heart.
Since the 17th January 2014 our life has changed.
On the exodus road, marked by expectation, abandonment and austerity, discouragement and trust, God made us experience darkness on this land of Bocaranga. The Light takes time to appear after 2 months where our life changed dramatically. Insecurity continues to be a daily reality, but in spite of that, we desired to launch a strong call to the population so that life might start up again in this wounded village where men, women and children have lost all signs of Hope.
On the 3rd March, we opened again our schools : Bakita and Nemesia.
The children and youths began to attend timidly on the first day … Then the number increased progressively.
The place of the Muslim pupils remained empty. They fled towards Chad with their families for safety. Their houses and shops have been ransacked, devastated and burnt. In their totally empty areas, one can breathe an air of violence which is visible everywhere.
The « Antibalakas » new masters of the villages, never cease to rob the population who undergo violence daily. The nomads are despoiled of their cattle and hence obliged to run away.
We are in the hands of young bandits, of uncontrolled thieves, youths sacrificed on the altar of the calculation of unscrupulous politicians.
The authorities are absent, no sub-prefect, no policemen, no magistrates … It’s perfect anarchy.
In spite of this sufficiently dull background, we endure.
The children’s joy and the smile who have taken up the path to School, invites us to accept to live this time of darkness with the certitude that Hope is always there. In the districts, life resumes gradually… One can see women grinding while men fix the roofs of the burnt houses amounting to over 950…
Children throw stones on the mango trees to bring down the fruit and savour them. Small dealers spread out their poor multicoloured merchandise on the small tables. Grandmothers, sitting down on the old mats or cardboard boxes, with their head crowned with white hair, their breasts dried up and with an old loincloth attached to their hips, observe the utterly lively children with their look overflowing with gentleness.
Since the Muslims left, commerce is blocked and economy has collapsed. In a matter of some months there will be shortage of food and famine …
In the actual stagnation, we admire the intelligence on behalf of many to survive, their courage, their patience, especially the women who play a fundamental role in the economy both of the family and the country.
The poor are blessed with a living force in order to be able to hold their head high continuously and « START AGAIN » every day.
Which new life is about to germinate in this country, on this land devastated by rebellion, violence, hatred … ?
Will PEACE have the last word so that men, women, youths of different ethnic groups and religions could welcome each other again, speak to each other as brothers and sisters and live together ?
These questions dwell in the heart of the whole community. Each one of us carries this concern of glimpsing something that shows the horizon and which can rekindle the path of Reconciliation.
Two days of prayer have been organised by our parish priest P. Robert, where all the population has been invited to this strong moment of dialogue and listening. Many people answered this call. Even some antibalakas were present
and a group begged pardon in public for all their evil committed.
In this historic and tragic moment of this country, where death and darkness seem to dominate, we believe that our presence in Bocaranga is a sign of HOPE for the population, a witness of unity and solidarity.
Our hope is open to all kind of suffering. One day, our driver, Mr Tidjani, who is a Muslim, a refugee living in our property with his two children told us : « The people left the fields and returned to the village only because you remained there … And life is timidly resuming ».
Hope begins to germinate in the people’s heart and in ours. Very small signs of happiness have been sown on our path as we revitalise our journey with this people in Bocaranga.
Together with Christ we are going to « BE BORN AGAIN » to the EASTER Joy.
Thank you dear sisters, dear friends and relatives for your help in crossing the darkness on this land of the Central African Republic across your friendship and prayers.
We have not yet overcome the night and dawn still delays to make the horizon visible … but there is still the Hope of a radiant morning.
Martin Luther King told us and we confidently welcome his words :
« I refuse to believe that the present circumstances render man incapable to make a better world. I believe that Truth and unconditional Love will have the last word ».
2 Photos de Bouar réalisées par un artiste de la République centrafricaine
La première photo représente la carte du pays ; les maisons brûlent…un homme sort de sa case pour aller chercher de l’eau pour éteindre le feu ; les enfants aussi éteignent le feu… ce sont des élèves de l’école, ils portent les couleurs de l’école : orange et bleu…ils sont l’avenir du pays et de l’Eglise.
La seconde photo représente une femme qui retourne dans son village avec ses deux enfants…ses vêtements sont déchirés…une fillette accourt pour l’aider. Cette femme est seule avec ses enfants: c’est la réalité d’un pays en guerre … les hommes sont partis à la guerre, arrachés de force à leur famille ou bien ils ont été tués…et les femmes fuient dans la brousse avec les enfants quand leurs vies sont menacées.
La photo 3 : les élèves de l’école de Bouar
La dernière photo : des enfants de Bocaranga