Bro. Andrés normally resides in Kaluli, a village where he arrived just over a year ago after many years living and working in other Angolan villages. "There are many birds and forests, as well as banana and coffee plantations. It is a very rich territory in Angola." Until 1975 Angola was a colony of Portugal, and although the people speak Portuguese, the Kinbundu language still predominates in the village.
He says, "The first 15 years were difficult, mainly because of the war. There were 10 Salesian missionaries when we started the work, all foreigners. Today there are 100 Salesians and only 25 come from outside. The rest are natives of the place and they are the result of our work. They are following in our footsteps, it is a blessing from God."
He says he has never regretted the life he has chosen, even though there have been difficult moments. Once he nearly died from cerebral malaria. He was hospitalized for a month, including 10 days in intensive care. At times "I thought of leaving Angola, but it was only a passing thought," he says.
In Kaluli he used to get up early, attend Mass and then go to the school where he taught.
He recalls the sad moments he had to go through, as when he had to bury those left dead by the war, given that the people had abandoned the villages. Or when he found a seven year-old girl badly burned and in agony in a village two days after it had been burned during an attack. Luckily they were able to rescue her, care for her and take her to a burns unit in another city. She managed to recover in 2-3 months. "They were hard experiences that I lived through," he says.
When his mother recovers he will still continue to hope for a better world for young Angolans.