Focus 2005

Ethiopia - AET15-06-2005

Project: Saint Giuseppina Bakhita
Date of foundation: (2000) 2002
Place: Etiopia - Eritrea
Province: AET

In the year 2000, the Superiors accepted responsibility from the Holy See for the apostolic administration of Gambela. One confrere that year, Fr Angelo Moreschi, from our Vice province of Ethiopia-Eritrea was appointed as Apostolic Administrator of the Gambela Illubabor region bordering Sudan.
At the Provincial Chapter it was decided to open a work in that area aimed at setting up a first evangelisation project.

Gambela is a region of Ethiopia bordering Sudan and also the name of the main city in the region. This region has tended to be forgotten both by Government and Church.

It is very poor. This is due to the climate which for much of the year is extremely hot, but also to malaria which robs the strength of those who live there. While not impossible, working in these kinds of areas is very difficult.
The greater part of the population is made up of Anuk, a group that arrived there around 300 years ago from Central Africa. They are tall, slightly built and dark, more like the “Abescià” (Ethiopians from the highlands) and were brought into this area at the time of the Menghistu Hilemariam dictatorship. The Nuer, from Sudan, are another ethnic group to be found there. They have come there because of the difficult political situation in their country. The fact of there being these ethnic groups, with all their diversity, and the difficulty they find in relating to one another is a reason for tensions and mutual dislike. In recent times the Government forces have brought about some sort of peace, but despite this every now and again tensions boil up and “Abescià” in particular, are killed.

Our community has been in Gambela since 2000. The one who began that presence, now the Rector there, is Fr Joseph Larcher. At the moment there are four confreres working there. The effort is being made to set up a centre in this city where young people can learn in a school environment (they have begun with a technical school, while a primary and middle school are under construction) and where there is an oratory/youth centre for them to come together, be accepted and respected. We are convinced that education is the only path to tread to help people to grow and to exit from the situation of poverty in which they find themselves. A small example: this year our school organised an informal carpentry and welding course for around twenty young prisoners, and this has been widely appreciated both by civil authorities and the young people themselves.

There has been a high rate of involvement at the Centre. On Sundays and feastdays around 3000-3500 younger and older boys are likely to turn up. “Summer together” is one of the best-liked activities which occurs during the school holidays. About 500 youngsters take part in sports, cultural activities (recitals, learning English, theatre, etc.) and folklore activities like local dances and singing. It is a special time when young people are encouraged to interact in sporting groups and where they learn to grow in a snese of dignity and mutual collaboration.
We, as Salesians are also convinced that we are evangelising by educating and educating by evangelising.

In January a special celebration took place at the St. Joseph’s Parish in Gambela. Fr Cesare Galbiati was appointed Parish Priest. Before him Mons. Angelo had to cover this duty as well, and this way the Salesian community is also more directly involved in the evangelisation field.

Other information:
Saint Giuseppina Bakita
Gambela Prefecture
Purpose: Technical school, oratory/youth centre, missionary parish
Directed towards: Young people from Gambela and surrounding villages
Those who make use of services offered: 3500 or thereabouts
Rector’s name: Fr Joseph Larcher
Number of Salesians: 4
Number of lay co-workers: 30
Name of the Superior of the Vice province: Alfredo Roca


Catholic Church
Salesians of Don Bosco
P.O.Box 180
Gambela -Ethiopia

Tel: (+251) 7-511.406
Fax: (+251) 7-511.409
Web site: