Imminent return to Liberia

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Imminent return to Liberia
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bateau pecheur img articleAlready our stay in Sierra Leone is coming to its end, we have extended it by one day to meet the Bishop of the diocese of Freetown, where our confreres are working.

Here, in the mission, there is no electricity, even though a high voltage line is passing nearby. It is strange to participate in these morning masses at 6:30 am while the sky has not yet cleared up. In the church, we see some shadows that slip into the benches, two trembling candle flames animate the altar, while a led lamp illuminates the missal. Everything is in the darkness, as the mass finishes, the shadows take on faces. It is a small assembly composed mainly of young children, including seven orphans of Ebola staying in Mr. Clement’s house. We go out of the church, bathed by a glowing sun rising. We take time to greet one another and give the news of the day before.

Clement is an important personality in the community. When Ebola came, he worked with the SMA Fathers. A little girl, had just lost her parents killed by the virus, herself feverish was hospitalized, and medical reports revealed that she did not have the virus. So, once cured, she had no one to welcome her. Her extended family, fearing Ebola, refused to take her home. She was abandoned in the hospital. At the advice of Fr. Patrikson, Clement and his wife welcomed her, and later welcomed six other children too. The little girl was baptized and bears the name of Clementine, in gratitude to her adopted father.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to film these children who told us their story. Very often, the strong emotion prevented the words from coming out of their throat, but tears gave the dimension of the suffering of these children having lost their parents and rejected from their family circle. From Clement and his wife, they regain the lost tenderness.

It was only on the 13th of December that we finally reached Freetown and went down to the old Warf, or at least to the skeleton of what was doubtlessly the landing bridge for Bishop de Marion Brésillac followed by a long staircase going up that leads to the heart of the city. To film that area, we had to ask permission from the city police, in fact, the port is a strategic place in case of invasion of a potential enemy. And accompanied by a policeman that we were able to film the remains of the old warf. And the Parish Priest of waterloo, on whom the sma confreres depend, accompanied us too.

{loadmodule mod_galleryfp,Sierra Leone Reportage}

We then went to the cemetry, where Bishop Melchior de Brésillac was burie. It was sad to see the cemetery abandoned, the high grasses hid the tombs and drug addicts take refuge. Since the SMA had built a sort of room with a roof over the grave, the young men come to protect themselves from the sun. They were many sitting in this shelter on our arrival. It was for us a strong and intense day. The last writings of Bishop Brésillac, on this land that he so much desired, came to our memory. The weather was dull because the sun remained hidden and a few scattered but regular drops accompanied us all the day.

Freetown is a city scattered over several small hills and mountains on the sides of which houses cling, sometimes reminding us the poor neighborhoods. And at the same time many beautiful houses remain with plenty of space around. In the city center, cars advance at a pace after long breaks, you cannot give any fixed hour for an appointment. The streets are not wide and often eaten up largely by the stalls of small sellers.

The Archbishop of Freetown received us today and we were able to question him about the work of the SMA (a single community of three priests) in the diocese and the drama of Ebola with its consequences and the implication of the local church in this situation. We had almost one hour interview with him. It will not be easy for us to sort out all our work.

many organizations provide totally disorganized assistance. The projects cost a lot of money and at last do not finish, they are used to fill the pockets of one or two people. An example very close to the mission. I admired a beautiful little water tank constructed and attached with a solar panel, everything seems to be new. But it does not work, because during the construction, while awaiting the arrival of the pump, sticks were thrown into the bore making it unusable. But the organization that spent a lot of money on this project was able to take photos to justify all these expenses but not cring its functionning. In Africa, this is called white elephants, and there are plenty.

Thank you for your messages of encouragement that we share with our hosts. Tomorrow the road will be long because of the bad state of the road. It is supposed to count seven hours (425 kms) to reach the border near Foya where our confrere will be waiting for us.

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