Vision to dream despite blindness

Wednesday, July 5, 2006
This is the house where 20-year-old Ixhens was born and still lives with his family. Ixhen was born legally blind (he can see and distinguish some shapes and forms) but disability did not cripple Ixhens from dreaming. His 50-year-old father Ndrek, also blind is also entitled to a small monthly social assistance as the main source of income for the family, while his mother 45-year-old Irena is a housewife, and Ixhens youngest brother is still at school.

Life has been hard during in the past and life continues to prove difficult for many people. Mountains and hard lives typically characterise the northern Albanian geography and its people. Infrastructures is minimal. Flooding is alsoa constant threat to the residents dwelling on the flat lands. Infrastructures and unemployment have been one of the biggest problems in the Albanian society since the country opened from the most repressive form of communism in year 1990. Schools, healthcares, and other social institutions have also been suffered since the fall of Communism

Ixhen’s dream of becoming a DJ was finally coming into reality when an informal meeting was held to introduce Building Futures in the village by a loan officer The Unemployment rate in the northern part of Albania is officially reported the highest in the country. This had driven Ixhens’s older brother, 23-year-old Tedi to migrate to Italy to provide more income to the family. They make up some 20 percent of the population has left the country over more than a decade, making Albania one of the countries with the highest emigration flows in the world according to the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

Yet, Ixhens is an encouraging example of how a young man can overcome many obstacles living in Albania through seemingly small but significant loan from World Vision.

Ixhens grew up in a music loving family, where Ndrek, Irena and Ixhens have always attended the village church and now, facilitate musical training workshops. Ixhens’ musical talent was noticed from an early age when a priest from the local church taught him how to play piano in his early childhood. The family did not enjoy the freedom to practice their faith until the fall of Communism in 1991. In May 1967, religious institutions had been forced to relinquish while the communist leader ‘created the first atheist nation in the world’.

In previous years, Ixhens attended special school for people with disabilities in the capital, Tirana but this was only possible for a short amount of time due to long distance from his home.

Almost 70 percent of Albania is inaccessible due to the mountainous landscape and combined with poor physical infrastructure, it renders even the physical integration of people with disabilities into the community extremely difficult.

Yet despite the lack of special schools for the blinds and limited accessibility, Ixhens with determination to succeed continues his education and now attends the last year of high school in the nearest high school majoring in music and arts in the city of Shkodra.

Musical talent, determination coupled with Ixhen’s dream of becoming a DJ was finally coming into reality when an informal meeting was held to introduce Building Futures in the village by a loan officer and also family friend, Bashkim Sykja.

Building Futures organises small informative meetings in rural areas to introduce different loan products starting from US $250 up to US $2,500 to the community members.

Ixhens knew that in order to pursue his dream, he would at least need to purchase a small mixer and a computer but first to convince his parents and then apply for a loan from Building Futures.

Determined Ixhens succeeded; his parents were convinced and the loan application was submitted . The loan committee approved the loan of US $410 to the boy who have a disability but who could still dream.

“He could not see very well, He asked me to point where to sign in the application forms”, said Bashkim.

All the equipment was purchased and Ixhens has been eagerly acquainting himself to the equipment preparing himself to all kinds of festivity coming in Spring and Summer.

After school, Ixhens spends all afternoon adding new music to his collections. The music is so loud that everyone in the village can hear.

“Sometimes, little children come and stand in front of the house and start dancing”, said his mother Irena.

Ixhens is especially enthusiastic to provide music for the many weddings that will take place in the coming summer months. He expects to earn up to US$130 for one wedding.

Ixhens has already gained experience from providing music in schools and private small parties.

“Ixhens has been one of the best clients, he has always paid on time and on many occasions, even a few days ahead of the due date”, said Bashkim.

“I am the happiest man in the village”, exclaims Ixhens.

Building Futures a division of World Vision Albania operates with an aim to raise and empower the rural communities through loans disbursement entered Lezha in November of 2000. Poverty robs many rural Albanians opportunities to advance in all aspects of lives; Building Futures serves along the side the communities members to take control their own economical destinies

Building Futures continues to make impact for the rural residents of Lezha, especially in reaching to rural women in remote villages.

“Ixhens has been one of the best clients, he has always paid on time and on many occasions, even a few days ahead of the due date To date, Building Futures operates in 10 communes in Lezha district and have 830 active clients of which 650 clients are from the rural areas with small 0.02% delinquency over 30 days.

“God blessed Ixhens with a musical talent. Building Futures gave him the opportunity to use this skill to make himself happy, his family and the people he plays the music for”, said Building Future staff.