Yesterday we needed to go to a supermarket. So we went to one in a very small shopping mall. It is in Durres but in the five years we have lived here we have never looked around it. As we did Matilda discovered a small soft play area. Of course came the question… Can I play? To be honest it looked rather dirty, scruffy, dimly lit. There was a man there with apparently his two young children a girl and a boy. No one else. She ran ahead not waiting for the answer. She began to run up the slide and over the soft play area, bundling down into the ball pool, giggling and laughing. The other little girl said something to her but Matilda did not respond. Her dad tried to explain to her… she is English, she doesn’t speak Albanian, she speaks English. I corrected him, “Yes, she is English but she speaks Albanian and English.” The dad was surprised and told the girl to carry on, this time with Matildas attention they began to chat, play and interact. The dad asked where we were from and what we were doing here. We explained about Burime, that we run a centre for children and teens on the Keneta. “Has anyone ever thanked you?” he asked.
Now that was not a question I was expecting or fell into the normal run of questions and so I was taken aback for a moment. Then I thought. I didn’t really know how to respond. In fact each morning at the end of the session the children want a hug before they go, no longer satisfied with just saying goodbye or shaking a hand, now one by one I have to hug them. They line up waiting. Almost every week at least one child will write a note or make a card to say how much they like Burime, what a difference it makes to them. The teenagers come along, eyes sparkling, sometimes with mischief, but mainly with a sense of enjoyment. We get twitters and sometimes emails telling us people are behind us, love what we do. But thanks? Has anyone thanked you?
Not so often. Was my reply and straight away he said “Well I am thanking you, thank you for coming here.” That was nice. It meant something. But actually I don’t know it meant more than a hug, more than a note, more than a tweet or a prayer. The word thanks is great to hear and goodness do I encourage my children to use it more. But actually as I thought about it, thanks doesn’t feel necessary. We aren’t doing something that requires thanks, that suggests a recognition of something noteworthy. We are just being us, we are having an amazing time, having incredible experiences and learning so much.
Thanks goes to those people who are slogging away to make this possible. The little girls who make cakes to sell at church to raise money for some crafts. The generous couple who paid for three weeks of summer activities. The people facing unemployment who still give ten pounds. The person who asks not for presents but gives their birthday money to pay for the rent on the centre. The teen who gives up their Saturday wages to make a difference. The family who say I can’t give any more because I am sponsoring a child. The couple that read a newsletter and give money because they understand. The church that takes an offering and raises the money for kids to go to camp. Every single person who has given from 2p to thousands to change lives they may never even meet. Thats where the thanks goes. To all you heroes who are even reading this because you care enough.