In September of 2009, Convoy of Hope Europe partnered with Pastor Barry Ivie of St. Charles River Church in Missouri, U.S.A. to conduct its fourth outreach in the city of Lisbon. The east side of the city is well known in Portugal as the place where you would not want to live. There are rows and rows of high-rise apartment buildings which house many of the cities poor. The residents of the east side survive on government subsidies and rent control. Convoy of Hope Europe teamed up with two local churches to serve the community with a demonstration of love. 1,056 attended the event and 203 people responded to the Gospel message and 70 of them came to church the following day. Each guest at the COH outreach was welcomed by their own personal host who accompanied them throughout their stay. The KidZone overflowed with delirious children who were treated to bounce houses, face painting and endless game playing. The adults took advantage of free haircuts, manicures, pedicures, medical screening and they each walked home with food parcels to help alleviate the pressure of everyday life. COHEU will continue to work with St. Charles River Church and CRC church in Lisbon to improve this area which is known as Quinta de Laje.
The meaning of Shutka is ‘garbage’, but this hot and dusty place is lovingly called ‘the happy valley’ by the many asylum seekers and refugees from Kosova. With over forty thousand inhabitants, it is the self-proclaimed and self-administered ‘capital’ of the Romani, the largest gypsy center in Europe. In Shutka about 90% of the Roma people are unemployed and they struggle to make a living. Many children do not go to school, since their parents are not able to support them and believe that education will not help them. The only option left is to scavenge on the streets and garbage dumps for things to eat and sell. Convoy of Hope Europe adopted the community of Shutka, working together with the local church, AGWM and the Macedonian Evangelical Alliance. The main focus of our Adopt-A-Community program here is majoring on education as a means to escape the grasp of poverty and social exclusion. Initially we will help children go to school by providing a free meal every day. It is our goal to see a minimum of 6 students graduate a year from high school and to eventually see some of these students graduate from university. To see these goals fulfilled COHEU hopes to do the following: Move the preschool into a permanent building, which includes facilities for the feeding program. Feed 150 children each day. Renovate the local church to host some educational programs. Help create opportunities for the adult population to find permanent work.
This former warehouse, converted to a refugee center during the Balkan wars, looks abandoned and dilapidated. But walking in you realize that this building is home to 22 families, including many children. Garbage is everywhere, toilets are broken and filthy beyond imagination and in the corridors young children share the sparsely available play space with countless rats. In Albania, just like in most European countries, the Romani people occupy the lowest place in the society. Being excluded from society, because of their language, looks and lack of education, many resort to begging to survive. The main challenges facing the Romani in Albania are: Their low educational level makes integration in the society a serious problem. High unemployment causes extreme poverty and hinders progress. The position of women in the Roma culture can cause problems with their adopted country. Convoy of Hope Europe adopted this small community and together with Calvary Church, Toledo, Ohio, and the community leaders, we are attempting to make Grumbillini a better place to live. To do so we are attempting to accomplish the following: Clean and repair the building, making it a safe and comfortable place to live. Enroll children in school, preparing for high school and university. Create opportunities for adults to provide for their families. Improve the position of women.