Angel Olaran reveals his food that allows him to continue his humanitarian work

The missionary Angel Olaran reveals his food that allows him to continue his work in Wukro, Tigray.

Next, we publish a paper by Father Olaran in which he also explains about the latest collaborations received and what happened to him in one of his trips to Mekelle, capital of Tigray, with Regat.

Written by Angel Olaran

Father Olaran, on his diet and health

Many of you have been interested in my diet: Breakfast: a bowl of moringa porridge, turmeric, black pepper, ginger, garlic and a piece of injera. Lunch: since yesterday we have been able to go back to injera with shiro, supplemented with some rice, or pasta, or some vegetable from the garden; also beans or lentils that we still have left in storage. The months we have gone without injera, I had another bowl of a local oatmeal. Dinner: pretty much the same as the lunch, only we add a vegetable soup, or leftovers, with lentils. Around 5 pm I can enjoy a bowl of that soup. Many nights I get a thermos, a little less than half a liter, with subko, a local solid drink, to which I add some honey.

Sunday breakfast involves an egg, scrambled egg, with garlic and onions. The intensity of the yellow of the scrambled egg is to be admired, and I get the impression that the same intensity carries over to the taste of the egg. For the last month, every morning when I get up, I have been eating a few pieces of aloe vera with a little honey. At breakfast as well as at the other two meals, I end up with a dessert with a homemade taste: I mix a little honey with peanut butter, and it’s as if I were eating soft nougat- of sand. The peanut butter fits in the house budget; the honey we get from some friends. However, when I finish my breakfast with the taste of the egg, I pass on the nougat.

The patxintxis got me used to this need for dessert. The patxintxi is half a sweet, similar to a fat button, that, when we were kids, after mass, when we spent the week’s pay in one of the 5 candy and chewing gum stands… that were exhibited in the square, the patxintxi was one of the most affordable products to our budget. Two years ago, accompanying Belén to a bakery in the Old Part of San Sebastian, we saw that patxintxis still existed and to my surprise she bought me a packet. I ate one and never got beyond that. I never remembered them again. Until, by magic, I can not find another reason, shortly after arriving this past January to Wukro, I find that package on one of the shelves of my room and I could not help but eat one, and with it all the attraction that I got in the square of Hernani and the looks, that after passing them by the post returned to the patxintxi, possibly because the budget did not give me for more. With the first bite, because I couldn’t afford more, I discovered its original taste with all the atmosphere of the square full of kids, counting the pennies we still had left. And returning to the here and now, I managed to control myself and offer me a patxintxi at the end of each of the 3 diets and to keep its taste. To do this, from the dining room I had to go back to my room and I just asked that no one and nothing got in the way of me getting to my room. As when I was a child I only waited for the end of the mass to enjoy the patxintxis, here I waited for the end of the diet to rekindle that feeling.

And as with everything good, the patxintxis also ended, but returning to the art of magic, I see no other reason, it made Regat, the young woman who is in charge of our diet, shortly after I ran out of my dessert brought me from Makelle, without further explanation, I attest that I knew nothing about it, a handful of homemade cookies, with taste of home and since then I always have now more than one cookie, at the end of each meal, with the guarantee that I will not miss. Supplemented with the aforementioned nougat taste.

I did lost a few kilos of weight, but I have been keeping it off for several months now and in fact I have put on a couple of kilos. On the other hand, Dr. Mahari suggested that I check my pulse, blood pressure and something related to oxygen every month: my pulse is under 60, my blood pressure between 13-8 and my oxygen around 95 – all with variations, but within those measurements.

Money transfers

I told you how since a few months ago, through the UN air service between Addis and Makelle, we are having the only opportunity, apart from the black market, to receive money in the local currency: birr – I also commented on the serious limitations in receiving it. So far we have had the opportunity to receive 500 thousand birr (1 euro = 51 birr) – the last 350 thousand 10 days ago. That money arrived in Addis Ababa in April. (Angel is referring to the transfer we made of 21,500 birr).

Also, for a couple of months now, we have been able to buy food in Addis and send it free of charge through the World Food Program. In fact, about 3,000 kilos of flour for the orphans, which, having already arrived in Semera, the Afar capital, with the entry into force of this third phase of the war and the closing of all regional borders, our shipment is still there. We were left with only that border to receive it.

Our St. Mary’s School, a few days before the closing of the borders, was able to receive a few thousand kilos of seed for a program for farmers, as well as to pay some salaries in food. With the above money, we were able to buy 1,000 kilos of that food, which consists of teff, and also in our house we were able to pay two months’ salary by that means, since it was more beneficial to them than in cash. And we were also able to buy 500 kilos of teff for the dining room for the elderly. The WSDP staff received their salaries in cash.

We received in Addis Ababa 20 thousand euros for the feeding program of children up to 5 years old and pregnant women. (Father Olaran mentions the financial support we sent him on August 23rd).

Angel and Regat, returning from one of their trips to Makelle

A few days ago in Makelle, Regat and I, after dark, managed to get into a minibus that was going to Adigrat. We arrived when there were only 5 of the extra seats left: on top of cans, cushions, jerry cans, the shelf about 15 cm wide and high that is left from the driver’s and passenger’s seat. Regat wouldn’t let me get on the minibus until she managed to negotiate a seat she considered suitable for my age. She got it in the first row of seats behind the driver’s: a 3-person seat in which I could be the fourth passenger. I was able to be the fourth passenger, with some comfort. I shared it with two women and a young man.

On the mentioned shelf there were already two people: a man, who sitting normally his legs would fit in our seat; the boy with whom he shared part of his seat was about two meters tall, which made his legs another problem to take into account. The 3 of us managed to sit down without an inch between the three pairs of legs. Next to my seat there was a yellow jerry can, with its corresponding cushion, on which Regat sat, almost reaching the sliding door of the minibus. In front of her, sitting on the shelf, was the woman mentioned above, also facing the door.

And as always, even on that occasion, we did not leave the station until the driver and assistant saw that there was no room for another person. But even they themselves were wrong: a few kilometers from the exit, he could not resist the temptation to stop so that another passenger could enter. With the rattling and braking of the minibus, our bodies found their proper place and by the time we realized it, the new passenger was already part of our team of 4 people. All in all, our comfort did not suffer.

On one of the sudden braking or something like that, my left hand ended up on the young man’s knee, with the surprise that he was wearing an iron brace on it. When I asked him if it was an accident, he told me that he had lost that calf in November in the war. From what he said, the pain was almost continuous, and sometimes he needed to get up, which his height did not play in his favor. I still remember the serenity of his face, of his explanations mentioning the type of pain… I hope that I will never cease to be impressed by the stature of his quality as a human being.

Since yesterday, Friday at noon, we have electricity again, which means that I do not need the two candles for my nightly task (Angel refers to Friday, September 9, two days before the New Year tigriño, 2015).

A hug,


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