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News from Bitonga - Testimony from Br. Émile Motanda


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22/03/2011: Dem. Rep. of the Congo


As announced oMaristn 21 February, the project for the rebuilding of the school at Bitonga, in the Congo, has started. Here is what Br. Émile, who is overseeing the work, has written to us.


“Dear friends,
Greetings from the Congo!

I have received the cheque made out by the “Fondazione” for the school of Bitonga. Once again, thanks in the name of all the community of Bitonga for the efforts made so that our dream can be converted into reality. As soon as we received your positive response, we began the work of construction. Before beginning the masonry work, we concentrated on reinforcing the roof of the school which had been damaged because of wind. If it had continued in this state, it could have fallen in. So we called in a carpenter and purchased stout beams of wood and thick planks to strengthen the roof.

We were intending to do as much as possible, now that it is the dry season, seeing that it is really difficult to continue working during the wet season. Since the children cannot yet be in the school, the families have made their houses available, even if they are very small. Four classes of boys and girls have classes in them, while the others have them in the open air, under the trees.

The building work began on 14 February and has continued rapidly. One problem that has arisen is that the bricks made by the people are of different sizes and cannot always be used together. So we have decided to make others which have the same dimensions. This will mean greater expense, but the people are very bent on building the school… moreover, the production of bricks has already begun. All the material has to be transported by hand, on the head… And so the work goes forward… Some build, others carry the sand, others go to fetch the water or make bricks…

Another difficulty comes from the poor state of the highways: to have to climb the up the highlands as far as Bitonga, amidst rain and mud, is a real adventure. The main problem we have at the moment is to transport the bags of cement up to here. Up to now, we have not succeeded in bringing more than 25. I spoke about it to the chief of the village; immediately he asked the whole community to lend us a hand with the transport. The people responded promptly; Mondays and Saturdays you can find all the people along the road, doing  “SALONGO” (which in the local language means community work). The village chief is, in truth, a good person and interested in the development of his village. He is very happy that the children are soon going to have a new school. He is always present each time his people are out on the street helping with the transport.

I believe that, with God’s help, all will end well, despite the difficulties. The Brothers are very happy with all we are doing with and for the children of Bitonga.

Many thanks to you all.

Br. Émile Motanda
Econome of the Marist community of Bobandana

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