Every year in August, Italy descends upon a small town in Congo called Aru. They come bearing gifts of cheese, olive oil, and meats and with good intentions to serve the people for a few weeks. When they are here, they eat copious amounts of cheese, olive oil, and meats as well as pasta and drink even more copious amount of coffee. They fill the air with their chattering in Italian and their hand gestures. They talk late into the night (drinking coffee of course) and work all day. They leave joy in their wake with their laughter, singing, and generous donations of candy. The month of August is really like being in Italy, but Africa, and it can be a little overwhelming at times, but mostly it is fun.
Usually us long termers have warning of when this Italian invasion occurs; we have time to plan our defensives and hunker down before they arrive in full Italian force. We also know the names and how long they are staying for before retreating back to Italy. This year we were informed that 4 volunteers were coming on August 3. But wait, August 3rd is still days away…how can I already be writing about this year’s Italian Invasion?
BECAUSE THEY SURPRISE ATTACKED US!!!!
In an inexplicable communication error from Rome, the Italians arrived on July 29, 5 days before their originally scheduled arrival. Imagine my surprise when I innocently opening my email on July 28th and found a message from Rome mentioning that the volunteers were leaving Rome today and would be in Congo…tomorrow. “Tomorrow! But we’re not ready,” thought I. But there was nothing to do about it, the Italian invasion was starting.
Oswaldo, a librarian at the Vatican whom I am hoping can shape up my library a bit,
Valentina, from Rome who will be teaching the sisters a bit of Excel,
Lia, who works for Chanel and speaks excellent French,
Chiara, a nursing student who hopes to spend her life serving after getting her nursing degree,
And Sr. Tina from Como who only speaks Italian thus, I do not know much about her.
Chiara and Sr. Tina will stay for one month and the rest will leave after only 2 weeks. We set them to work right away by painting the Cyber (stay tuned for a Cyber update). Other work on their list after the Cyber is finished is helping in the library, at the farm, and painting any other things that we feel need to be painted.
That’s all for now from Little Italy: Congo addition!