The Ethiopian Story of the Remarkable Fratello Angelo
From a very long time I wanted to share his story because there are very few people in this world like Fratello Angelo from the Catholic mission in Wukro, Ethiopia. And I hope all of you will have the honor to meet one person like him in your lives.
I remember the first time I met him. Simple clothes, modest attitude and yet, immediately you feel the warmth but also the respect that he engenders. Fratello Angelo was known person, not only in the village but in the whole region. There were five years since he came in North Ethiopia and created the Catholic mission. But this mission was not his first child. At this age he already had several missions and finished missionary projects in different countries and all of them in the poorest regions of the planet.
The beautiful church in the mission constructed entirely by local builders and decorated by local painters. For me it is the most beautiful church in the world, with its simple construction and bold warm colors of paint and stone.
The mission in Ethiopia was a huge project and heavy responsibility for one person. But he kept working hard and serving the others with humility that made me wonder every time I met him, what is the fuel of his faith. Everything in this mission was turning around Fratello Angelo. The most visual results of his work could be seen in the gardens. In this part of Ethiopia, so infertile and stony, he succeeded with the help of the local people to create and maintain a farm, amazing with its size.
Here you could find abundance of plant food which didn’t exist usually in this part of Ethiopia. The vegetables were arranged in well-made straight lines and the orchard was full of banana trees, papaya and even persimmon. Too much time has passed since then, but I still remember the nice shadows that these well maintained trees made in the garden. And the refreshing shadow is a real rarity in this part of Africa.
Wukro is much better place for living than most of the other towns in Ethiopia thanks to the amazing job that Fratello Angelo is doing for the past 20 years.
But the garden was not his only achievement. Fratello Angelo had created a school where the local young people studied computer literacy, different handcrafts that could give them occupation in the future, and discipline, something that they couldn’t learn at home. Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. The young people do not have chance for better life. What this brother was trying to make is to give these kids a chance, even a small one, to ensure their future subsistence. I loved to walk around in the mission because everywhere I was seeing smiling faces. The youngsters, but even the elder ones, loved to be here even if they didn’t realize the chance they have been given. Many of them had lost their parents (the AIDS rate is very high here) and often left in the care of their grandparents. Fratello Angelo was important part of these children’s life. Often he was personally involved in their lives because he was the only one who could do something for these kids. They were his family. He cared deeply for their well-being and their future. But what was amazing for me was his humility. Time and time again he was facing same problems – young girl get pregnant, live the school and have a baby on her own and all the hard work and efforts that the school and the Angelo invested in her future all gown away… I don’t know how he was not getting upset and disappointed, even angry. I guess it was his belief that he can just serve and guide the people and it’s all he needed to feel fulfillment. The rest was in the God’s hands.
Ethiopian painters are very skillful and have distinguish colorful style. You can see that on the walls of the mission’s church.
The presence of Fratello Angelo in my expat life in Ethiopia was of huge importance. I didn’t have a clue at that time, but he helped me to adjust and to accept the things I couldn’t change and I learned from him every day the art of acceptance. I saw the power of having a mission in your life and what happiness this can bring to you. I knew unconsciously (and everybody around me) that this person is changing our lives by giving us an example. And since then I never stopped to thank God (or any other power that may have a part in my life) for the good, precious and so rare people I meet on the way.
Angelo with one of the kids who lost their parents from AIDS. These children are like his own family.
Now, after so many years, I had news last year that he is still in Ethiopia, still working for creating better life of the Wukro’s community in his Catholic mission. And I can’t be more grateful that this man with his good heart has blessed my life with his warm but steady presence and had taught me the life’s most important lessons. As he continues to do with so many people – Ethiopians but also foreigners like me who just pass by or stay for a while. We all have his wisdom now in our hearts and if we are lucky and strong enough we continue his legacy by helping others, in one or another way.
All people working with Fratello Angelo are smiling and looking happy.In the mission they find peace and human attitude that are difficult to find in the difficult for surviving Ethiopian environment.
You can read more about Fratello Angelo’s recent work and humanitarian projects here:
Did you encounter remarkable people like Fratello Angelo during your travels and expat lives? How these people changed your life?