Hitting Reality today

Often life here has become our normality, having made a quick trip back to the UK many, many things there felt very uncomfortable because they weren’t our norm anymore (did I ever tell you about my total meltdown in Asda?!)

Today though was a day I hit the reality of living here in ups and downs…. grab a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive (oooh that would be nice!)

Yesterday I spent three hours putting together the presentation for this morning’s Gazoo Bible programme for kids.  It involved creating a great animated story (translated) as the main point of the story and an interactive computer game for the final fun activity.  So this morning at 7.50am we set off for home school (not at home!) and had quite a good morning.  At 9.30 I went next door to run the Gazoo session.  We had three new boys, which was great news.  I registered them asking their names and date of birth.  It took at least five attempts for the first boy to understand my simple question… what is your name, when is your birthday?  The second boy I asked (now already knowing what I was going to ask) should have been easier and I got his name no problem.  But when I asked his birthday he said he didn’t have one.  I asked again, knowing some people here don’t celebrate birthdays but presuming he just hadn’t understood.  No, he responded again he just has New Year (the Albanian equivalent of Christmas), no birthday.  I checked, do you mean your birthday is at New Year?  No, his friends said, he doesn’t have a birthday.  One of them then prompted him that maybe he had been born in February.  Yes, the boy seemed to think that was a possibility, so we wrote February as a month, any idea as to the date?  No, no, no.  He just didn’t have any idea when he had been born, no one had ever celebrated with him the fact that he had been born, the importance of him, who he is.  I told him I thought he was really important and that I knew the world had changed the day he was born, he had changed history because he is alive and I would like to celebrate the fact he is alive.  Together we decided that we would celebrate him being alive on February 14th, the day of love as I hope if nothing else this morning he will remember that there is a God who planned for him to be alive and loves him.

Still reeling a bit from this we played the first game and then the electricity cut out meaning all my great multimedia work was for nothing.  Ah well, we carried on and had fun.  When we got home we discovered that we had no water in our tank soon followed by our electricity cutting out as well.  I smiled when I checked with the neighbour if they had electricity… you live in Albania they said!  I know and today I have been reminded!

(this was the shirt the boy wore to one of the Summer camps that says “Believe” on the back!)Image


Justice… what’s that?

This week in Burime we will be looking at the story of Jesus clearing the temple, his anger was righteous as he saw wrong in God’s house.

It can be quite an eye opener at times living here and learning about the corruption and how it affects lives.  The children are expected to pay the teachers to get grades… it only takes a little thought to see the problems this creates particularly with the poverty in families we work with. The disinterest in learning.  The lack of opportunity for education.  The lack of opportunity for the future.  The  mistrust of ‘authority’.  A few of the teens we work with are really good at English but don’t get the top grades because their families can’t pay.  It doesn’t matter how much they study they won’t be given the grades.  They correct me when I tell them they are really good, “No I only get ‘okay’ at school”, I will argue with them telling them their true ability but they can’t hear past the numbers on a report sheet and what they have been told before.  I love to then test them and ask them questions and to hear them answer without fault and then to say “You see, you know all of that, you are very good.”

To look at justice in a country where water supply is paid for depending on who you vote for, school grades are given depending on how much you give the teacher and the prime minister was voted in with some election boxes remaining unopened once he was in the lead is a challenge.  But it is also a need, particularly in this election year, particularly with young people who need to know the truth about themselves and particularly in a place God sees such injustice.

Loving the Lagjia – Exciting Month at Burime

Really excited at the start of this month to be planning ideas to promote community pride with Loving the Lagjia (the name of the area or neighborhood).
The keneta area is looked down on by so many people, including some people who live here and we want to help the kids we contact to have some pride for their neighborhood. So we will be running activities including a girls valentine karaoke party, clean up the streets time and poster competition for putting rubbish in the bin not just dropping it on the street. This may not seem like much but when the local authority doesn’t provide any litter collection services and so the black water canals is the general dumping ground to get kids to think about putting their rubbish away appropriately is quite a challenge. So lets hope by march we can start Spring with some fresh hope and new pride.