Father Federico Gandolfini is a Sudan Relief Fund partner and missionary priest serving in South Sudan’s capital city of Juba.
What called you to do mission work?
I was called to do mission work due to my obedience to God. His guidance has led me toward those who are in need, and I am extremely happy to be able to spend my days making a difference.
How did you end up in South Sudan?
I was asked to come to South Sudan in 2015. At the time, I had no idea what South Sudan was like, so I conducted some research online. I was shocked by what I found out: poverty, the political situation, war, hunger, and overall misery and lack of hope.
What is the biggest challenge to carrying out your work?
One of the biggest challenges is trying to communicate with the people of South Sudan and helping them realize that even though they are extremely poor, they can still give and share with one another. Thankfully, the message has made it through to most of the people, and each day, we see more and more of them sharing what little they have.
Another challenge is the overall climate of South Sudan. It is very hot here, and most of us are not used to the intense weather. In addition to this, the war, poverty, hunger, and overall misery have taken a toll on our mental health. Many of my brothers have left the country because of these difficulties, but I have remained out of my obedience to God and my commitment to saving the lives of these people.
Can you describe a happy moment from your work?
There are many happy moments from my work here in South Sudan. Besides the fact that we are seeing each day how our message of generosity is reaching those in need, we’re also happy that they have accepted us as part of their family. I have been given tribal names, which is a huge part of their culture, and I consider myself extremely blessed to be given such an honor.
What do you love most about the people of South Sudan?
The thing I love the most about these people is their willingness to learn and listen. They understand how the economy is collapsing all over the world and how difficult it is to get donations to help them. However, despite this, they still try hard to make society work each day.