Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Monday, April 21, 2014
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
The other day I was browsing through an advertisement paper and amusing myself reading the addresses of some major appliances' stores throughout the country. A few of my favorites read: "Main avenue, "Xhevdet Neprevishta" neighbourhood" (in Lushnje), or in Elbasan: "Qemal Stafa" str., apartment building next to the former military base." (Mind you, these are large cities.) More often than not an address is "somewhere close to something former." So learning an address for a newcomer like me the enlightenment is double: I learn both where a certain store, office etc. is and, for instance, where a flour factory used to be.
With the advent of democracy in 1990, city planning in Albania went off the hook. Years later (some) illegally built structures were demolished, and some cities regained their shapes, yet others (like the capital Tirana) remain a maze.
The street name signs are in place, but if you want to find us in Korca, forget our address. You'll have more luck looking straight above the cinema (former cinema, to be more accurate), just below the water depot, and behind a tall green house. Alternatively, ask where a known writer Vangjush Ziko used to live or mention our neighbour's from across the street name.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Friday, September 16, 2011
Recently, as I’ve complained to a lady about jumping the line in front of me, she apologized explaining, “I thought men were waiting on the right, and the women on the left.” (Whereas I was lost somewhere in between.) How strange, thought I, and quickly started recollecting my recent queuing experiences. To my surprise, in most cases I could picture men crowding on one side, and women – on the other. Could it be yet another sign of Muslim-rooted gender separation? I inquired a friend of this phenomenon. And yes indeed, she confirmed that during the communist times women and men would form two separate queues. And at that time there was a lot of waiting in lines.
Now who would have thought that there is some logic in the absence of a queue (despite the wide-spread queue jumping)!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 06, 2011
We hope you are all doing well and recovering from all the end of the year festivities! More so we hope that Christmas brought you deeper meaning in life through a greater understanding and awareness of Jesus who came to earth for us all. We hope too that through Him you have found greater hope for this new year!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
We all love hearing big success stories; water turning into wine, dead being resurrected, mountains moving... The big stories of the little people are brushed off. I’d like to share with you a vivid illustration of Albanian Gypsy culture, and an impressive example of courage and faith.
A lady, who I’ll call Ada, is in her early thirties, like we, but her life has been very unlike ours. An older sister to two brothers was born and grew up in Korça. The smart girl truly enjoyed going to school, but when she reached 15, the parents decided to marry her off to a man almost twice her age. As it is common here, Ada moved in with her new husband and in-laws. Way too early she learnt the joys and hardships of the adult life. Barely 16, she gave birth to a baby-girl. Almost ten years later she had a son. A typical life of a poor Albanian Gypsy woman: marry early, raise kids and toil at home for the rest of your life. If you’re lucky, the in-laws treat you decently. But Ada wasn’t lucky. For an unassuming outsider, her husband creates an appearance of a quiet and nice person, yet his addiction to alcohol marred the life of the woman and her children. When he gets drunk, he turns violent.
Ada has been quietly suffering for years, as everybody in her family and neighbourhood would bluntly echo that we all must carry our own burdens. Years went by, Ada found Christ and peace in her heart, yet the abuse both towards her and the children only increased. As soon as Sean heard of her situation, he started encouraging the lady to find a place of her own, and promised the church’s support. It took over a year to work up the courage. She wasn’t wary of any revenge from her ex-husband. She had to fight a bigger monster called Culture. “What will people say?” too often towers above the wellbeing of your own children. In the people’s eyes, a woman leaving her husband commits a bigger crime than a husband, who instead of providing and caring for the family, wastes all the money on alcohol and constantly beats his wife and children.
First Ada moved in with her parents. They let her stay, but didn’t let her forget the shame she had brought on the family. Later, Ada’s brother with his family also moved into the two-room flat, and the living space became tight. Albanians don’t typically care about private space much, but the reproaches never really ended. “You just have to suffer,” they would tell her. “Everybody gets their share of suffering in life, and you must endure yours.” Even though both Ada’s in-laws passed away in the last year or so, and she had divorced her husband even longer ago, the culture wouldn’t let her get loose from the past.
Finally, Ada took her two children and moved out to a small two-room flat, leaving her parents and brother’s family more room, and getting more peace of mind. Working six days a week as a cleaner Ada makes a mere $120 a month. When I tried to convince her she should cook some meat for her anaemic daughter, I received a blunt reply, “Who can afford meat?”.
Ada’s determination is impressive. She has to fight the silent fight not only with the culture monster, but even with her own family in order to… protect her children from the abuse and provide them a safe and stable home! It’s difficult to be a single mother anywhere in the world, let alone in such a male dominant culture as Albania. Even more than Ada’s strong will I admire her trust in God – when she is stressed, tired, worried, when things seem hopeless, she chooses to rely on God and throw all her burdens on Him. She has some relatives in Greece and would love to emigrate. And I cannot blame her. Who wouldn’t want to escape the clutches of poverty and sometimes merciless culture? And unfortunately, her story is not really unique.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
We are in Lithuania, which means we are on the brink of holding our little gift in our arms! We are waiting axiously, although the baby seems to be quite comfortable and content to stay in there. Just a couple more weeks to go...
Friday, April 09, 2010
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The sun finally showed up after a week of constant drizzling, and the blue skies were more than inviting. “Here’s a day to be spent outside”, decided I and undertook a task I had long been thinking about – cleaning a little square in front of our house. (Notably, there is a container to be found at the corner, yet the rubbish has a unique tendency to bypass it.)
With a bucket in hand and selfless thoughts of preserving our beautiful Earth, I commenced scanning the little grassy area to and fro. With the bucket No. 10 I stopped counting. The funds were not spectacular. And my dog kept on finding delicacies of bony substance even after the mission was over.
Some neighbourhood kids were hanging around. I shyly lifted my head to greet them and carried on my humble venture. As it is proper for a solitary hero, I didn’t request help. Yet out of the blue comes one teenager, takes his jacket off and eagerly starts piling all the trimmed grape vines. Later, his friend shows up and adds to the company. The professor living across the street (the only person I had earlier observed cleaning somebody else’s mess) joins the crowd as well. Now we attract not just the looks, but even the comments of the passer-by’s. Eventually even a local “bad boy,” who doesn’t do much throughout the day except for lingering and the selected corners of our block, grabs the shovel and gets to work.
I left smiling. Looking from our window, the square doesn’t seem any cleaner, yet unsolicited help made my day. I should venture out more often.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The town on the road to a UNESCO heritage city of Gjirokaster tells more about the Albanian culture than you can imagine! Literary descriptions aside, let me share a few observations. Some weeks ago, passing by a posh new outdoors cafe in down-town Korce, I counted the customers. Roughly 50. Not a single woman. Not an uncommon view. (Korca has only one waitress.)