Monassao (Agenzia Fides) - "Many lives speak to me and bear witness to their faith every day here in Monassao, in the midst of many problems, difficulties, suffering, but at the same time they speak to me of joy, courage, hope", writes Don Michele Farina, a missionary in Central Africa.
The priest, from the Society for African Missions (SMA), who arrived in the Central African Republic in what is the first Italian SMA mission in the country (see Fides, 3/8/2021), describes the pride of the faithful in possessing the 'Card of the Baptized', an initiative promoted by the SMA fathers among the population. "We are about to form the liturgical group of readers, the first requirement is to know how to read. The journey is long, but we try to take a few steps forward every year, explains Don Michele. Each baptized has a baptismal card that certifies the sacrament received and that must be updated every year with a small but important economic contribution to support the community, just over one euro for adults and half for children".
In addition, at the beginning of October the missionaries managed to start lessons for the children of the Monassao mission. "Forced to skip the first day of school due to heavy rain - he says - we found ourselves with the 4 teachers and the pupils the following day, all happy to start.
During the dry season, children will go hiking in the forest on Fridays to learn more about the reality with which the Bayaka pygmies live in symbiosis. It is necessary to buy new material, reading books, books for the little ones with images typical for the Bayaka, a good part of these have been gnawed by mice. Unfortunately, not only books are attacked by animals, but also people and especially children. I saw some children in our hospital devastated by fleas. At school the teachers try to remember the importance of hygiene and health care. But the situation of their homes certainly does not help, as does living constantly in contact with dirt and grass, barefoot or in worn-out slippers".
The missionary concludes by expressing the hope that interest in schooling will increase, "that more and more children will be able to obtain a secondary school diploma, a percentage currently very low, not very far from zero". (MF) (Agenzia Fides, 25/10/2022)