Albania is recovering from a flood many consider to be the worst in living memory. Heavy snow and rain in January overwhelmed the river system causing severe flooding in the districts of Vlore, Fier, Gjirokaster, and Berat; all 60-100 miles south of Tirana, the country’s capital. The Albanian government declared a State of Emergency and police and army troops have been working to evacuate people and livestock from over 1,500 homes with boats and helicopters. The deluge submerged 35,000 acres, making entire villages inaccessible. Most of Southern Albania is without power and drinking water. Here is the good news: the State Emergency Response Group invited all organizations and churches to help, and we are racing through the open door! Convoy of Hope Europe has an established presence in Albania through multiple Adopt-A-Community programs, one of which happens to be in Fier. Our representatives are well-placed to spearhead the local relief effort as the waters begin to recede. They are coordinating with other Christian organizations and have already begun gathering and distributing blankets, drinking water, and basic food supplies to affected families. One of these families has four sons between the ages of four and eleven. One of the boys has been diagnosed with Thalassemia, a blood disorder requiring monthly trips to Tirana for transfusions. Their father is unemployed except for odd jobs, and tries to feed his family by catching fish in the river with a basic net. All six family members sleep in one room. Before the flood they lived in abject poverty. Now, even what little they had for bedding was destroyed by the water. Another mother was evacuated with her 17-month old triplet daughters when her house in Darzezë was completely submerged. All of her furniture in the house has been destroyed, and she must stay with relatives until it is safe to return home. These people are not used to being loved. For most Albanians, the only aid they will actually see is what our teams provide, and what they accept is laced with suspicion at what we will expect from them in return. They have been approached by “relief groups” whose “help” is dependent on voting a certain way in the country’s upcoming June elections. Can you imagine their reactions when we expect nothing in return? One of the local pastors on our Response Team met with the Albanian Director of State Social Services. She was happy and thankful for what help has been provided so far, but has asked Convoy of Hope Europe to also supply 100 beds and mattresses for the people in the most desperate conditions. One bed and mattress set will cost $80. To supply these 100 mattresses, to meet this need, we need you. If you would like to provide sleep for a family who has lost everything, please follow this link to our donations page, and designate your donation for the Albanian Relief Effort.
From September 1st - 7th, 2014, a team from Lifehouse Church, Hagerstown, Maryland, USA joined us once again in Shkoder, Albania. Lifehouse has been investing in the community of Shkoder the last few years and this time assisted with distributing two hundred 25lb bags of clothing in Rrasek and Mes, two villages in the Postriba area. Together with Albanian doctors and medical students, we also served one hundred people with free medical checkups in two Roma settlements. At the end of the week, our team participated in the "One Day for our City" community event in the center of Shkoder. Open to the public, this free event welcomed 2,500 guests with live entertainment, games, bouncy castles, free food, literature, and a medical tent where hundreds received free checkups. "The city was different today,” said Dennis, one of our volunteers. “There was something for everyone and it was completely free! You don't see that in Shkoder.” We hope to see the positive differences continue to grow in Shkoder thanks to the investment of Lifehouse Church and the many others who have worked to see change in this community. To donate to this project, click here.
From June 18-24, 2014, Abundant Life, Hibbing, Minnesota, USA took its third Adopt-a-Community trip to Fier, Albania. We are in our second year of a three-year AAC project in Fier, and COHEU is overjoyed to see the relationship grow between the people of two towns half a world apart. This summer, we welcomed a team from Hibbing to Fier who worked chiefly with the children in a local gypsy community. The kids came every morning to the village kindergarten where we spent hours playing, singing, dancing and teaching them new things. We had a lesson every day followed by a free lunch, which you could see from their excited faces they appreciated. We even invited their parents the final evening to come see their children perform the songs and dances they had been practicing with us throughout the week. We also organized another day of city cleanup, as we have done on previous trips. Team members went to areas in the city and picked up litter around the streets as a gesture to the mayor of our compassion and heart for his town. A local TV crew came out to inquire as to who we were and why were doing this. The answer is simple: We love their country and we have hope for Albania! We aim to reach the overlooked and believe that change is possible on every level, and this was as good as any a place to start. Thank you to Abundant Life and to our Albanian friends for what you do year-round to impact the community of Fier! The stories from previous trips can be found here and here. To donate to this project, click here.
From September 3rd -7th, 2013, Convoy of Hope Europe, in partnership with Lifehouse Church, Hagerstown, Maryland, dedicated a week of service to the city of Shkoder, Albania. A medical clinic was set up in two gypsy communities serving a total of 300 people with free medical check-ups. We also distributed 100 bags of clothing and 150 bags of groceries to families in the surrounding area. At the end of the week, the “One Day for our City” community event hosted 3,000 guests of honor with free medical check-ups, refreshments and a kids zone with bouncy castles, puppet dramas, games and popcorn. It was a privilege to serve the people of Shkoder, Albania for the second year in a row and we look forward to seeing this community continue to grow. Thank you to Lifehouse Church for your time and effort spent on this project!
From July 18th-25th, 2013, Convoy of Hope Europe in partnership with First Assembly of God, Hibbing, MN, USA took our second trip to the adopted community of Fier, Albania. On the heels of our first trip last April, a group of youths from Minnesota took time during their summer vacation to come be a part of the work their church has started in Fier. Throughout the week, we spent mornings doing physical work around the community. This included city block clean-up, painting the local church with which we have partnered, and painting inside the public high school. In the evenings, the team ventured to the gypsy village. On the grounds of the village kindergarten building, which the last team painted in April, we held children’s events for 50-70 kids. They had a class on hygiene instruction, followed by a free snack and lots of playtime. This was a great opportunity, despite the language barriers, for these two communities to forge the kind of bond that is formed through simple acts of kindness. As the American teenagers played Frisbee, soccer and jump-rope with these impoverished children so desirous of attention and affection, we saw how much impact simply showing compassion can have in the lives of these little individuals. As we returned each night, the excitement and trust grew on the side of these kids and tears were shed by all when it was time to leave. We look forward to the next three years of this project and having more opportunities to invest in this community. For more information on the Fier Adopt-a-Community, click here To donate to this project, click here