September 18 2006
SOS Children's Villages mourns death of Italian nurse in Mogadishu
(18 September 2006) - SOS Children's Villages mourns the tragic death of Italian Sister Leonella Sgorbati, 66, who was responsible for the setting up and operation of the nursing school at the SOS Hospital in Mogadishu, the only hospital with a functioning maternity ward and gynaecological care facility in Somalia.
On 17 September 2006 at approximately 12:20, Sister Leonella was leaving her workplace and was on her way to the SOS Children's Village opposite the SOS Hospital, when she and her bodyguard were shot at by gunmen. The bodyguard died immediately while Sister Leonella died shortly afterwards in the operating room at the SOS Clinic.
"The worldwide family of SOS Children's Villages deeply mourns the death of Sister Leonella Sgorbati, who dedicated her life to carrying out humanitarian and development work in Africa. For the past four years and in spite of the dangerous situation in Somalia, Sister Leonella worked tirelessly in the setting up and operation of the nursing school of SOS Children's Villages in Mogadishu, which offered young people the opportunity to complete a nursing course," said Helmut Kutin, president SOS Children's Villages.
"The entire SOS Children's Villages family feels the pain of this tragic loss, and our deep condolences go to Sister Leonella's family, to all the Sisters in her Order and her many colleagues and friends at SOS Children's Villages in Mogadishu."
Three Italian nuns working on a voluntary basis for the international children's welfare organisation in Mogadishu were immediately evacuated from Somalia on Sunday evening by Willy Huber, the regional director of SOS Children's Villages for East Africa. Following the wish of Sister Leonella, her body was brought to Nairobi where she will be buried later this week.
Sister Leonella trained as a nurse in the UK and went to Nairobi as a member of the Consolata Order in 1970. She worked at the Madari Hospital Nyeri and the Nazareth Hospital in Nairobi and was principal of the Nkubu Nurse Training School before she went to Mogadishu to set up the nursing school and a four-year nursing programme at the SOS Clinic in April 2002, where she has served as the Principal ever since. The first group of students recently completed the four-year nursing programme. According to her fellow Sisters in Nairobi, Sister Leonella was a very sociable person who had a special gift for communication, especially with her students. About SOS Children's Villages:
SOS Children's Villages, a private and non-governmental and non-denominational social development organisation for children, is active in 132 countries and territories. 444 children's villages and 354 youth facilities provide more than 60,000 children/youths with a new home. More than 137,000 children/youths attend SOS Kindergartens, SOS Schools and SOS Vocational Training Centres. Around 385,000 people benefit from the services provided by SOS Medical Centres and 230,000 people benefit from SOS Social Centres. SOS Children's Villages also helps in situations of crisis and disaster through emergency relief programmes.
SOS Children's Villages has been working in Somalia since the early 1980s and for many years was the only international organisation providing humanitarian aid in the south of the country. Contact:
International Press Officer
Tel: +43 1 368 2457 - 2185 firstname.lastname@example.org