Albanian villagers instrumental in flood relief

In homes, blankets and mattresses are soaked through as the rain beats its way relentlessly through the gaps in wooden walls and roofs and seeps under doors. Food and furniture are destroyed and firewood too wet to burn. Children, wrapped in their only dry clothing, shiver in doorways.

The floods have come to Lezha again.

The economically and socially marginalised inevitably end up living on the land no one else wants For over 160 poor families in World Vision Albania’s Area Development Programme (ADP) in Lezha, the rains mean perpetual and certain crisis. The economically and socially marginalised inevitably end up living on the land no one else wants. For the vulnerable families of Lezha, that means the flood plains.

Their wooden shacks or ‘barracks’ built 50 cm off the ground are soon engulfed by water. Trapped in a vicious cycle, any gains they make from their harvest are wiped out by the rains.

This year, with an ongoing presence, World Vision Albania was able to initiate an emergency response to help those families worst affected by the floods.

Building on solid relationships with church youth groups and with the financial support of World Vision UK and World Vision Switzerland, ADP staff distributed emergency goods to some 160 families. Plastic sheeting, blankets, and clean up equipment were the immediate necessities for families whose homes were water logged.

Yet the flood victims received more than emergency assistance from a humanitarian organisation- they experienced first hand the love and support of the wider community.

We know that village life is hard, but everyone’s life is hard here and it is easy to forget what Jesus called us to do for others Community committees were instrumental in providing accurate information and coordinating the distribution of goods to families and church youth group members from the “Lajme i Mire”, or “Good News” church in Lezha town.

The volunteers, aged between 17 and 22 live in Lezha town centre, and for many was their first experience in helping others in this capacity.

Edmond, the ‘Good News’ group leader explained, “We know that village life is hard, but everyone’s life is hard here and it is easy to forget what Jesus called us to do for others. This is a true blessing from God for these young people.”
Working together with the ADP staff, and community members, the volunteers took time to talk to flood victims about their experiences and hardships, offer a comforting word or share a joke. A loud cheer exploded when the sun peeked out of the clouds as flood victims and volunteers celebrated its arrival.

Whilst continued flooding is imminent for the families in Lezha ADP, World Vision is working to mitigate its impact through sponsorship activities that include community driven projects to improve infrastructure including bridges, water systems and canals, education for children including new school houses and materials, and economic development with micro-loans, livestock and greenhouses.

The ‘Good News’ volunteers sent a resounding message of love to communities in their hour of need. In a culture where people remain suspicious of volunteerism, all were surprised and appreciative of the young volunteers’ help and enthusiasm.

Photo: World Vision