Stronger than Death Book Trailer

Annalena Tonelli spent 34 years living and working in the Horn of Africa. Somalis loved her, and still talk about her with great affection, still carry on her legacy, still continue her work.

But someone killed her. Why?

Why did she stay so long as a foreigner, in the face of massacres, famine, tuberculosis, terror, and war? How did she build a strong local community across religious and racial boundaries, boundaries that today often divide communities?

This is not the story of a white savior, or is it? It isn’t the story of a saint either, or is it? Annalena was far from perfect but her example challenges us all to be a little braver. A little more loving. A little more willing to reach out to someone with empathy, faith, and action.


Available from Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, and Amazon.

Thanks to Matt Erickson for providing video clips and photographs and to the Plough Publishing video team!

Legacy of a Nobody: Annalena Tonelli

annalena tonelliAnnalena Tonelli was shot in the head and killed on October 5, 2003.

Please take 26 minutes and watch this incredible documentary about the 33 years she spent loving Somalis.

This film was particularly moving to Tom and I. Beautiful scenes in Boroma of places we recognize, reminiscing about ten years ago. With Annalena’s murder, our lives in Somalia began to unravel.

(In the scenes where she is speaking into a bus if you look real careful you might see my husband’s reflection in the bus window. That was the first day he met her.)

The documentary was produced and directed by our good friend Matt Erickson (also seen in the bus window reflection).

Annalena was a beautiful woman with deep compassion, vision, purpose, and love. The movie does a wonderful job displaying this but it is also a powerful testament to the strength, vitality, joy, and courage of the Somali people she worked with as they have continued and expanded her work.

The movie shows hardship but also beauty, disease and medical progress, violence and those who fight for peace. One of my favorite scenes is of two women pounding grain together – hard work and they are laughing. This is Somalia, Somaliland. So much stronger than al-Shabaab, so much more enduring than famine and terrorism.

*update: this week marks 11 years since her murder. No one has been arrested or accused.

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