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The Diary of Anna Sambo: The Annunciation

AVSI continues to publish the testimony of Anna Sambo, AVSI’s project coordinator in South Sudan. Her free flowing reflections jump from practical considerations to heartfelt observations. They speak of her life in Africa as an aid worker and of her growing awareness for the importance of her work. Here you will find one of the latest entries. 


March, 25th 2014

For some time now I’ve been thinking about how life takes on a different form here nearly every day. I don’t know if it’s that way everywhere. The rainy season is a blessing, as is the occasional storm in the afternoon or evening, it cools the temperature. But the sun does not relent. It is still hot.

I thought about the AVSI house. Here in Juba. I thought myself to be a loner, but I find that I like to be in the company of others. I don’t get to choose my housemates. They come, they stay, then they leave. Some come from Italy on their way to the northern part of the country (Rumbek, Wau), while others come from our bases in Isohe and Torit.

Today is the feast of the Annunciation.

It’s strange. It’s work but it’s also companionship. The nights are simple. People come with stories from different places. We rely on oral tradition to keep track of the world around us.

Manuela headed north to Malakal, the capital of the Upper Nile, which the government took back from the rebels last week. We try to picture the destruction after three months of raids, bombings, and skirmishes. They say the only thing left standing is the UNMISS base. She’s there. They spent the other day in a bunker. We talk about it that night: who makes you fight in a war that is not your own? No answer.

Father Giovanni brings us salami from the east for Sunday lunch before he heads back to Bahrgel where he will begin working on a project with Ireneo Dud Foundation and SUDIN. He is 73 years old. He’s seen his fare share of adventures recently. He spent 52 days on a ship (traveling from Trieste to Zambia) to get to Africa with his VW Westfalia camper. Looking at him while he tells his story, you’d say he is crazy. Better yet, you’d say he’s  alive.

The house comes to life when people pass through. Coffee and delicious cookies. We have everything and yet we have nothing. Out there, it’s even more apparent.

We are on the fence. There is neither war nor peace. Yesterday, there were times when the thunder sounded like bombs falling from the sky. But they weren’t falling. After weeks of suffering, the storm was a herald of joy. 


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