You haven’t forgotten about Senta, have you?
You haven’t forgotten about Senta Berger, have you? The gorgeousness who took the hearts of Eritrea’s cinema appassionati of the 70s and 80s. Well, she’s here and we talked to her!
The legendary star of German, Italian, French and American film industry is an Austrian film, theater and television actress. Also, a producer and an author. She received many awards and nominations for her acting; her awards include three Bambi Awards, two Romys, an Adolf Grimme Award, both a Deutscher and a Bayerischer Fernsehpreis, and a Goldene Kamera.
She is visiting Eritrea alongside Archimed, a medical association of mainly German doctors, volunteering to train and provide medical assistance in Eritrea.
-Hello Mrs. Senta Berga we are happy to have you here. Welcome!
Hello to you! I am an actress and I have been working as an actress and film maker in Germany, France and then Italy. During my stay of 10 years in Italy I gained knowledge about Eritrea. As a former colony of Italy, Eritrea is common knowledge to Italians; they are related to Eritrea as many Italians have family, cousins and parents in Eritrea. So, my interest in Eritrea begins then.
Finally some years ago I accidentally met with the Head of Archimed, an assistance organization for children. The group has been working on Eritrean children for a while now. Archimed’s initiative convinced me deeply, and so I realized it was a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with Eritrea, see it and its people, and also, to see how things really are in Eritrea. You know, there are different opinions about the country. Also, on how in Africa donations do not reach the people because they’d normally get lost in some offices. Conversely, I was so impressed to know how things are handled in Eritrea. Besides the fact that A r c h i m e d is taking on successful projects, I am captivated by the Eritrean people and their culture. They are extremely honest, friendly and open about their thoughts and opinions.
When I first arrived here I was so fascinated by what the Archimed has done in collaboration with Eritreans in the surgical field and to assist mother and child health. I was also in Keren; the difference I saw between my first visit and now is big. Back in the days the people’s awareness was shallow, but now a couple of years later, things have much more evolved. I noticed a wide spread of health centers. The government has built several of them. I am happy for the advancemnts and I am certain that Archimed will progress with more projects taking care of things as much as possible.
-How would you summarize your journey as an actress?
I started when I was 16 years old and I worked in different places around the world: London, Los Angeles and many more. I stayed in Italy for 10 years. In the meantime, I had met my husband and I have two children. I decided then to move to Austria, Germany and be close to my husbands’ and my parents. We bought a big house where my parents, my husbands’ parents and our children all lived happily. It was truly a wonderful time. Then we funded a film company and produced some films; we had a couple of Oscar nominations and my husband got the New York film screening awards. That part of my life was very interesting and exciting as my husband and I lived as actors/ film makers.
My two sons are now carrying my family’s legacy in film making. They have recent a TV series, a block buster! I am now 76 years old and retiring slowly. Now, I have more time to get involved with organizational works and do something really worthwhile for children.
-Can you describe Archimed and your Involvement?
This one was not my decision, Dr. Peter Schmitt got me involved in Archimed’s engagements. In the early 90s there was a more elevated rate of children’s mortality, especially in the country side, when compared to the positive actuality of nowadays. Probably the causes could have been lack of awareness and the long period of war Eritrea went through. And Dr. Peter wanted to contribute in reversing the situation. Luckily the Eritrean government was ready and there we have now a content cooperation.
Generally speaking I am very impressed. We were at the clinic today and I witnessed some surgical works. I couldn’t stop admiring how the parents of the sick children are grateful and thankful.
-In few words, how would you express your time in Eritrea?
I have been to Keren and visited a small village around there but most of my time I spent here in Asmara because there is so much that I have to do. This time I am here with a TV crew. We want to make a little film and raise funds and donations from all around the world, especially from Germany. We also wanted to film Eritrea, Asmara and show how beautiful the country is. We want to film the Eritreans willingness to work here.
It is difficult for me to say a lot about Eritrea because I normally come for 10 work days. I haven’t even been to the sea shore yet! I know only a bit about Eritrea and its history; but I do know that it has overcome some very difficult times and I feel that it has now come to an end. Now slowly you can feel the changes in Eritrea. I have seen so many young people and I wish for them to stay here and work for their own country. I think one of the steps towards the direction of stability is looking, searching and understanding what a medical doctor can contribute here instead of going abroad.
Like I said, because of my short stays here in Eritrea, I really don’t know what daily life In Eritrea is all about. I see happy children and that delights me greatly. I know I would need to travel more and talk to more people to gain more knowledge about Eritrea and its people.
-What impressed you the most?
Of the people? Their friendliness. Very open and I have to say very beautiful. Never seen so many beautiful people all over the place. Moreover, people here are not shy nor afraid to show you their friendliness. That is nice.
-Does it give you some sort of spiritual satisfaction when involved with groups like Archimed?
I don’t help for personal gain. I believe that everyone capable should feel the urge of helping. Yet again, more than giving donations, what matters most is to show up, be present and show people that you care. What has further impact is speaking and talking about people’s problems to the international community; only then can one raise awareness and do small changes.
-Thank you Mrs. Senta, and best of luck for the future.
Thank you for showing interest in me. And also for making me speak in English. It has been a while.