© Manca Juvan

Fanika Baraga (1920) was a 21-year-old peasant woman when World War II broke out. Italian army occupied her village. During those turbulent times, when her life was at stake, she met a respectful, handsome and intelligent man. They fell in love and got married. Because he was a sympathizer of the partisan movement, he was captured by Italian soldiers and shot as a hostage. It was only 40 days after her wedding day when Fanika became a widow - a pregnant widow.

A few weeks later Fanika - along with her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law - was arrested. Despite being heavily pregnant she was taken to Gonars concentration camp in cattle wagons in December 1942. She spent several months in detention without knowing why. Living conditions in overcrowded wooden barracks were wretched; starving and benumbed internees were constantly molested by lice and scabies.

Luckily, Fanika got well along with the majority of women who helped her. At the end of January 1943 she gave birth in an improvised barrack, supposed to be a sickroom. Fortunately nothing went wrong and she had a relatively easy delivery.  
For Fanika had nothing to wrap her newborn baby, an inmate made a small dress for a little girl out of her clothes.  
Alas, her newborn baby was exhausted already at the birth and died three months later.

A washed out baby-dress retains Fanika's bitter and touching memories of the hellish camp period. She never remarried nor had children again. The loss of the two she loved was way too painful for her. She dedicated herself to people in need and to God, which according to her own words, gives her shelter and power to withstand the burden of life. Strangely enough, I can't recall to meet a woman of almost 93 years of age – so vital, joyful and warm.

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