Open letter to those asking to come to Africa with us

Dear Anna,

We see that you’ve been following us during our trip to Ethiopia. We’re happy about that. We’re here also for you, to show you a complex world, seemingly remote, which is surely in your hearts and thoughts, as supporters of our child sponsorship program.  You ask us when the next trip will take place and you would like to join us.  We’ll explain a little about what’s involved.

Ethiopia is a country which is both large and poor. From a territoriale perspective, it is 4 ½ times the size of Italy, with double the population. The distances here, between the various communities that we support, are enormous. The roads are in bad condition with rare opportunities to make a stop. Temperature fluctuations of about 15 degrees daily, poor hygiene, outages in the supply of water and electricity – these are all things that require a strong willingness to adapt. We’re in Africa, with all its beauty and fragility! Enthusiasm and good will are not enough. We don’t want to discourage you;  instead, we’re writing to you to provide you and all our supporters asking us to undertake this demanding and wonderful adventure with necessary information.

In an environment so poor and overburdened by acts of nature and those of human beings, it’s really frustrating not to be able to respond to all the requests for help that come to us from everywhere. We are certain that whoever asks us to undertake this kind of experience, so beautiful and profound, has already visited our web site in the “Become a Volunteer” section [] where essentially we summarize our “mission statement”. Here we are not and do not want to be “humanitarian voyeurs”, moved to tears in the moment and then not follow-up on our emotions with concrete actions. We come here to perform amazing work which materializes in “walking together” with women and children in need through various projects in schools, communities, foster homes, and Women’s Promotion Centers. We observe, we listem, we share, we celebrate, we report, we think, we act.  We try to not look through the lens of western values which accompany us in our lives in Italy and we accept what we find here:  the beauty of this ancient culture but also the extreme need, the poverty and the misery, the hunger which takes your breath away.  And we ask ourselves:  poverty has always existed, but how is it still possible to die from hunger in the third millenium? And what can I do that is concrete and practical? It’s not enough to send photos, selfies, and stories often just for self-glorification.  We need to rock the spirit of those who follow us and who are dear to us.

So, looking back on our association’s history, we note that almost one hundred volunteers, friends and associates have passed through these areas with GMAnapoli.  With regret, we ask ourselves loudly: how many of them have been able to transform their emotions into concrete actions ?  Just a few have allowed GMAnapoli to do so much in these past decades.

This letter attempts to be an invitation to self-awareness, and is definitely not a reprimand!  Thank you, Anna, for encouraging us with your request and giving us the opportunity to talk about our work and the many difficulties and challenges we face.  We see first-hand the cruelty of fate and the inevitability of events.  You find yourself fondly stroking a four-year-old child in a small school and you realize that’s he’s blind. For the other 98 classmates in this school without water and little else, this is normal.  And despite having so little, these children easily welcome diversity.  Thank God we think about the Bruh Alem Foster Home – in honor of Bianca d’Aponte – which we support and where young girls, in the prime of their youth and health, show us that with a few drops of water they have ignited a positive reaction, bringing joy to their community.  Not only do they study and co-manage the foster home, but in the near future they will produce hand-made items and BREAD for self-sustainment. What a great achievement, like those in the female prison of Shashamane and in the schools supported via Child Sponsorship and more!

Whoever wants to come here as a volunteer of GMAnapoli must arm themselves with a wealth of knowledge, with humility, be a promoter of plans and projects, adapt themselves to the customs of these communities based on strong family values, ethnic food and dances and music;  but also lack of water, a variety of insects, colorful birds and breathtaking sunsets.  We work as a TEAM, all for the benefit of those who have nothing!  And, not least, we ask that you be in good psychophysical condition. From this journey you will return a different person, attentive to what’s essential, rich in experience, beauty and with the awareness that the “self” becomes “WE”, as individuality turns into communion.

We hope that we haven’t dampened your enthusiasm or that of those who would like to join us as volunteers, but rather we hope to have enriched it and directed it toward greater self-awareness.  Thank you for having followed us and supported us thus far, in the sincere hope that you will continue to do so with still greater conviction in the future!

Nunzia and the volunteer team of November 2022