It was on Sunday, the day before Christmas that we finally got our turn to make our annual Christmas donations. Besides our charity budget, together with a staff of Manoolia and Invest in Albania, we collected a considerable amount of money and with the help of Fundjave Ndryshe we found two families living in extreme poverty to help.
We had to go to Maminas, somewhere between Tirana and Durres. It was on the road to Lalzit Bay, that lovely coastal village filled with luxurious resorts and private mansions hidden in the tranquil pine forest. But our car and the other three filled with food, toys and clothes took a secondary half paved road that runs up to the hills through Karec village. Karec is like all the other Albanian villages, mostly populated after the 90’s by families displaced from rural areas.
Composed of five members living in extreme poverty.
Incomes: Lek 4,000 from the economic welfare, mother suffering from mental problems, two sons aged 9 and 13 years, one 3-year-old daughter, father mentally impaired.
No water supply, no land to plant, only two goats.
The house of the first family was on the hill slope. The mother with her three children was waiting for us.
It was a one-story building with grey walls because the concrete plaster was not painted. There were a few bits of old furniture and a curtain with big red lilies and roses, that almost every Albanian family had more than 23-years-ago, covered the entrance of a sleeping room.
We sat for a few minutes in the living room. It was dark because there was no lightbulb. The entire house had only one light bulb. A wood burning stove was in the room, but its surface was lukewarm, maybe there was no wood. The mother said that social welfare, Lek 4,000, was their only source of incomes. She said that her husband was mentally ill and used to beat her.
At the moment she didn’t know where he was, as he left the house the day before. The only decoration in the house was a framed drawing saying ‘Gezuar Festat’ (A merry end of the year festivities). They seemed to be happy, even the little girl, Samanta, who was silent as the snow.
Composed of six members living in extreme poverty.
Income source: invalidity pension, two sons physically impaired on wheelchairs, one daughter, parents, grandmother.
The second family lived further on the road to Lalzit Bay up in the hills. Their house was too old, too poor. The children and their grandmother were staying in the sun.
Thanks to USAID support they managed to find the wheelchairs. Like the first house even the second was sparsely furnished. It looked like anything in there was a donation. Besides, the food and clothes we donated a tablet to the boys, Xhemal and Altin. They had difficulties to move hands and were unable to grip but they enjoyed the tablet.
We left the village, they were happy, we were in sorrow just like in the poem to penury that Albanian poet Migjeni wrote over a century ago:
“Poverty, brothers, is a morsel that’s hard to swallow,
A bite that sticks in your throat and leaves you in sorrow.”
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