This is an excerpt from a book written by Giovanna Ambrosoli, the niece of Venerable Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli, together with the Italian journalist Elisabetta Soglio.
On December 17th 2015, Father Giuseppe was bestowed by Pope Francis the title of Venerable of the Catholic Church. Born in 1923 in Ronago, in the province of Como,
He left his family and a brilliant career as a doctor to devote his life to the neediest.
He got to Kalongo’s small dispensary, in northern Uganda, in 1956 and there he remained until the day of his death, in1987, at the height of Uganda’s disastrous civil war.
During his thirty years as a missionary priest, Father Giuseppe, who is remembered in Uganda as the ‘Doctor of Charity’, managed to transform a small dispensary into a modern and well-equipped hospital and founded the St. Mary’s Midwifery School, now one of the best midwifery schools in Uganda.
Faithful to the Comboni vision, he has left for future generations the best example of how it is possible to “Save Africa with Africans.”
A doctor, a missionary and a brave and humble man, driven by an unshakeable faith. Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli was a young man when he decided he would live his life as a Comboni missionary, at the service of the poor.
For that calling, he would leave his home village (Ronago, in the province of Como), his loved ones and the family business: destination Uganda. In 1956, he left on a ship called Africa.
After an adventurous jeep journey through the savannah, he got to Kalongo, at the foot of the so-called Mountain of Wind, to find a maternity care dispensary and a small thatched-roof hut.
In a matter of a few years, through his determination, ability as a doctor and a priest and the managerial spirit he had inherited from his family, he managed to transform that small center into a big and well-known hospital.
Then the civil war broke into the life of the hospital, turning it upside down. The evacuation order was categorical and Father Giuseppe, forced to organize the convoy of patients, doctors and nurses in just 24 hours, left Kalongo for good. A doctor at the service of the poor, he died in Lira, cut off because of the war, with no possibility of receiving care.
Is this how it all ended? No. Three years later, the hospital in Kalongo, which had been protected by the villagers, was able to get back on its feet and resume activities at the service of the most vulnerable.
His story of dedication to helping others and of human perseverance continues to this day, through the Foundation set up by the Ambrosoli family and the Comboni Missionaries, who picked up Father Giuseppe’s legacy to provide support and continuity to this miracle of love.
Como, Milan, Kalongo. Thousands of kilometers apart, different noises and scents, wealth and poverty.
Yet, Father Giuseppe and his work were able to shorten those distances and create a bridge between the Hospital and the Foundation, Ugandan doctors and Italian volunteers, the need to receive and the desire to give.