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Father Silvano has had a lot requests from Pygmy families for their children to study in Nduje, more than he has been able to meet. He has become a true reference point among the Pygmy population.

Everyone in Nduye now calls me “taté = grandfather”, and what does a grandfather do? He takes care of the young, his grandchildren. But it is not just this – he tells us. After 50 years in Africa and over 35 years in Mambasa and Nduye, I am convinced that these little Pygmies have enormous potential, like the land of the forest that has accumulated an abundance of humus over millions of years that has never been put to good use.

Father Silvano is a force of nature: despite everything, he has always managed to face adversity.

He happily tells us about his past and future projects:
“I want to keep up the momentum, with more commitment. The Romans used to say: “motus in fine velocior” … Motion accelerates when the end is near … As the finishing line approaches, the athlete gathers together all his strength in a final effort and then unleashes it”.

In 2018, Father Silvano decided to make a qualitative leap, determined to give his young kids a healthy and happy upbringing. On the plots of land surrounding the boarding school, which amount to 15 hectares of trees and plantations of pineapple, papaya, bananas, beans, rice and sugar, he decided to set up a professional training course in agriculture for Pygmy girls and boys. At the same time he designed and reorganised new bathrooms for the schools in ‘Nduje, setting up a joinery in the village to build the necessary structures for the buildings.

One day at a time

Life has not been without its challenges for Father Silvano. Yet despite everything, thanks to his passion and enthusiasm, he has never lost heart.

In Congo, in ‘Nduje, events that for the inhabitants of more industrialised areas are considered only setbacks, become bigger problems in a village surrounded by forests, especially if they happen during a global pandemic. Father Silvano tells us that during the lockdown, the mission’s photovoltaic system had problems after a big storm, shutting down the inverter. After that, the Internet connection also stopped working so the mission was cut off from all communication channels, right in that historical moment when schools were closed, civil and religious celebrations prohibited and travel blocked.

We are always looking for solutions to the problems that arise daily- Father Silvano tells us, as he faces each situation, no matter how difficult, with his customary optimism and confidence.

Fortunately, there have not been many cases of Covid-19. The boys and girls in the two boarding houses have stayed in Nduye and not returned to their villages, despite the suspension of classes. Every day the people who look after the kids have organised activities to keep them busy: playing, fishing, cultivating the land and harvesting.

They know that for as long as they can count on Mupe Silvano, “everything will be fine”.

Lending a hand

The Pygmy population is extraordinarily capable and determined: they often sense a conflict between their lives in contact with “civilisation” for their needs and necessities, and their lives in the forest where they usually live. Education, the ability to read and write means they are then aware of their rights. But this approach must be balanced with the wishes, needs and customs of their ethnic group.

This is the guiding philosophy of Father Silvano’s humanitarian mission and the non-profit organisation Father B. Longo: understanding people’s needs and providing them with the necessary help they require, starting with good quality education.

We at Geomag totally embrace the right to education for even the youngest kids, and thus we feel particularly close to this incredible project and lending them a hand with it is indispensable: doing our bit, providing financial support, teaching materials and tools for school activities, to help out the teachers that the mission pays for. We want to do our bit for Father Silvano and for all the School Heroes we have followed with such enthusiasm and true interest, town after town, country after country, continent after continent.