Friday, April 17, 2009


Hello everyone! Well the time has come for all of you who have wanted to help me, to help the children. I have written a Peace Corps Partnership Grant with Yllka, my counterpart. The grant is for a one week summer camp for children whose families live below the poverty line. This camp is an opportunity for them to see another part of their own country and learn about things like leadership, team work, cooperation, respect, self esteem and creativity. Here's how it works; Peace Corps has listed my project on their site ( Once you go there, click on donations and then search Albania. My project will come up. Read the project description and if you feel compelled to do so, donate! Otherwise, spread the word on to others who may be interested in helping. We are working with a short time frame so the more people who know the better. Please don't let this opportunity pass you by. It's for the kids and how can you say no to their faces???

Friday, April 10, 2009


I can’t believe how well tonight went. I was slightly dreading the concert because of all the drama that has been happening leading up to this event but tonight I was amazed. Today was the National Day for Roma Communities. I was approached by the president of the association of Roma here in Lezha numerous times asking how I would help with this event. I told him that I had boxes coming from America that had gifts for the Roma children. Well, he at one point thought I said I would give money. That day I had to explain to him that even though I was American, I am poor. I explained to him what my role in the community is and told him that I would be more than happy to help plan the event in any way besides giving money. He did not like my answer but he came back to see me again.
The next problem was that he found out that I was going to distribute the contents of the boxes I got from America at a center that children go to after school. The problem was that both Roma and Gypsie children go there. This was the day for ROMA communities and not GYPSIE communities. He explained how the two cultures are completely different. My response was that both communities are different but they do both reside in the same neighborhood, they marry each other and both are very poor. Why should only one community benefit from the boxes? In the end we decided not to distribute the boxes today but on June 1st, which is the International Day of Children. This way both communities can benefit and there can’t be any argument as to why they both are getting presents.
On to the actual event today. There was a concert arranged for 5pm at the Cultural Palace. It was agreed between the Roma and Gypsie’s that both communities would be represented and participate in the event. I could not believe how well they worked together in under 24 hours after the agreement had been reached to organize all the performers and pull the event off! The stage was all decked out for the event and I had a great time. I’m pretty sure everyone else did too. People were dancing in their seats, in the aisles and at the end, even I was pulled up onto the stage for a little traditional Albanian dancing.
At the beginning of the concert, when they were thanking everyone who helped make the event possible, I was shocked to hear them thank me. It went something like this, “Thank you to the American who is always a friend to the Roma. I’m sorry I forget your name now but know that you have helped us a great amount.” They gave me flowers and they all cheered and clapped for me. I’m not going to lie, I cried. At that moment I realized just how important my role in the community was. I didn’t realize that just by me saying hi to them every day and playing with their kids I made as much of an impact as I have, but now I know.
It’s after a day like today I really love my job. It really is true; Peace Corps is the toughest job I’ll ever love.