Wolfgang Penn, a Director, and Hurbert Hofmann are lay missionaries from Mission Office of Bozen/Brixen Diocese, Alto Adige Northern Italy visited Leadership Magazine offices and shared their story. They are lay missionaries with the love and heart for the poor who fund various project around the world including Uganda. For more than fifteen years, we have had many projects which our mission is funding, so we wanted to do a follow up to verify how they are working. We have several projects in Uganda and South Sudan and other places in Africa. We fund projects in Asia and Latin America as well.
Here in Kampala, we have several Eritrean Refugees that we support who are forced to leave their country due to the political situation of their country.
Purpose of the Visit
Our office personnel visited Uganda several times on many occasions. This time, it was a special visit because we have a new project among the South Sudanese refugees hosted in Northern Uganda. We wanted to see the way the projects are working and to also see the progress of the new projects: Brother Eric Fischnaller, a Comboni Missionary, was working in South Sudan, so he has moved to Northern Uganda and opened a farm. Brother Eric and brother Fafa from Togo opened up a 20 acre of farm land bought by the Comboni Missionary from South Sudan to look after refugees. They are raring pigs, chicken, Cows, Turkeys and they are growing pineapples, oranges and other fruits.
These projects are funded by the (Italian Mission) There are over 200,000 refugees in Morobi, some of who are being employed in the farm where they are paid and also encouraged to learn from the farm. Our Mission Office in Bozen also funds projects that benefit the refugees directly. They asked Brother Eric to make cards for St. Christopher day which will be bought from them by our office and the money will help the refugees. The refugees will design the cards and we shall buy from them. (see samples above). Thanks to the collaboration of Leadership Magazine, we printed 50,000 copies in German and Italian for the feast of St. Christopher. The refugees are now decorating the cards with banana fibers with images of St. Christopher. In brief, the main purpose is to help the refugees become self-reliant.
We also visited Lomin South Sudan sunflower cooking oil project, which makes cooking oil for the refugees at a cheap price. Brother Eric and Brother Fufa, Comboni Missionaries, also have carpentry in Moyo and want to build a bakery for the refugees which we also visited. We wanted to see how to help the brothers who are coordinating the projects..
Impression of the visit
The overall purpose of our visit was satisfactory. We gathered all the information we need in order to identify the most needy of our Mission Office. However, we have to admit that we were touched by some live witnesses of the people who think beyond their problems and personal needs. In Marobi, we found people building a house with a lot of dedication. When we asked them why they were building such a big house, they said they were building it for handicapped refugees who can’t support themselves. It was a touching witness that remained imprinted in our souls. In Europe, we pretend to posses such selfless feelings, but compared to this one is we are still far. Nowadays, it is rare to find such feelings of solidarity with the new generation in Europe.
In Moroto, we saw people dying of hunger; it was the first time in our life to encounter famine face to face. We found Sister Paolino Lopez Rodriguez trying to help the hungry people. The situation was so tragic that we pledged to help the people in that village. But, the most striking was to see a woman cooking cow hide for a meal in Rupa village, Moroto district. It was the first time in our life to see human beings cooking cow skin for food consumption.
Last, in Arua we went to an out station with Fr. Tonino to celebrate mass. We saw people celebrating mass with a lot of faith and joy. One person from the church told us that they were proud to be Christians, the joy and feeling of being close to God. That should be a lesson to Europe. The lessons we learnt is direct participation in liturgy from Latin America and in Africa the Joy of faith; the deeper mystic of our faith. It is incredible to see people who are hungry but still having joy for being alive. The glance in the eyes of the children asking you what they need without speaking, still maintaining their smile.
We were also told that we could not take the 18 tonns of food we had bought for the refugees in Karavan refugee Camp in South Sudan, because the camp was controlled by South Sudan rebels and it was not safe. This is the sad side of the whole story. Violence triggered by political leaders generates a lot of suffering to the defenseless peoples.
Domestic violence is also a sad reality. A man was reported to have slaughted his wife due to simple misunderstanding, while other people died of heart attacks probably due to the high level of stress and the hard situation they live in. This has been a very unique and challenging experience to me. It has made me to ask myself, as a young South Sudanese, many questions which I have not yet found the answers. Questions related to the formation and behaviour of South Sudanese youth and their roles in the different ethnic communities. Questions about ethics and good governance or what would be the true objectives and vision of a prosperous nation from our leaders’ perspective.
Questions about a disciplined SPLA. Questions about how to have access to true justice while struggling to achieve peace in South Sudan.
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