A gift from the heart

Mirjeta , 47, is a teache of 10 talented autistic children and youth between the ages of 7 and 20. And, she has been for 12 years now.  She adores them and passionately shares their desires and dreams.

“This boy here is Klaus. [He is] 7,” she says, introducing her students. “He dreams of being a model. The boy over there is Andi. [He is] 20, loves painting and dose lots during the class.”  Two and a half months ago, all these talented students used to come to a very rundown classroom, they would even have to miss the classes during the cold weather as the structure could not protect them from the elements.

“This school is the only entertainment they have, the only environment they feel equal, [as] children and [are able to] socialize,” says Mirjeta. “If they don’t come to the class, all that they have learned will be forgotten by them as there is no other way or another institution they can go to, to get treated,” she adds.

The catastrophic conditions of the school were making the students nervous and sick and neither the government or other organizations was addressing the issue.

“We did not have any furniture, a heater or a proper door. All we had were only a few school supplies. The walls where very humid and children were very cold during the winter,” Explains the teacher. “Children could not take off their jackets as it was cold and when they had to do so, to be able to write better and do the class work, they started crying and complaining about the situation,” she said.

The desire to do something, to restore the building had been with Mirjeta for some time, but she had no idea how and where to start. “Everything changed when I joined World Vision’s Community Group (GOI),” says Mirjeta. “There I learned and got many trainings on how to act on behalf of children and how to run an initiative and raise funds,” she says.

Mirjeta remembers how visitors or even the students from the other classes who would pass nearby and say – “Oh, Goodness!  How can you stand doing lessons in such conditions?!”  “[These comments] hurt us: me and my students. People were pointing their fingers but no one was doing anything to help us, except showing their sympathy,” remembers Mirjeta.

In October, 2013 Mirjeta started the process of restoring the classroom. It took two-and-a-half months, but the result was better than the children and even Mirjeta had expected.  “I went door-to-door to meet with the businesses we have in Kurbin, asking them for help and explaining the reason of my visit,”she says. “I had prepared myself [mentallyI knew] that Kurbin is a small city, people are poor and it is hard to give.But still, I thought with the contribution of as many people as possible, we could make this right for sure,” she says. “I gathered [the sceptics and took them to] the class and they saw with their own eyes all what I had described to them in words.

They saw the faces of those 10 children, crying out for help, the humidity, they felt the cold in the air and saw that we had no door, no proper window, no book shelves, no heater, no curtains. [We didn’t] even have a black board to write down the lessons,” she says. “After they saw the conditions, their response was: ‘yes, we will help you and the children!’ That was like a dream come true for me.  I still fly from happiness when I think of that moment. It was what we had waiting for so long,” she says, in tears and emotions.” 

During the process of restoration, the businesses brought employees and together with three of the children’s parents they helped install a floor, putting in the windows and the door. World Vision helped by donatingthe bookshelves.  Neighbours who heard about the project helped by providing curtains, a heater and a small radio, so the students could listen to music. Even the students of other classes gave of their little money to contribute to by the lamps for the class. “It was a gift from the heart from all who saw our conditions and heard our call,” says Mirjeta.

“Our classroom is so beautiful now. I even prefer to stay here more than going home,” says Niko, 13, one of the Mirjeta’s students.

(Students enjoying their school time in an appropriate environment)

Looking at her students, Mirjeta smiles and adds, “I am not done yet. These children need a class where they can entertain themselves too.This is my next [challenge]. I will grow the group of donators and speak on behalf of these children more and more,” she says in full confidence.

(A photo of teacher Mirjeta at her class)

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