Missing home

 Today we went to a nearby school we were all new children in the group. They are not the same as my classmates I grew up with in the village, but I was still happy to start classes,” – says Briselda, 15.

Briselda is from Lezha Village.After the earthquake dhe together with her sister, mother, and two brothers are hosted in a hotel in Shëngjin. Many other families affected by the November 26 earthquake also found shelter in this hotel. Her father is stuck in the village. He stays outside, in a tent, because their home is uninhabitable, he stays in the village because the needs catle.

Returning to school means a lot of for Briselda, is a slight sign that things are going back to normal. During these difficult days, she and siblings had some peaceful moments only,  in the Child Friendly Space established by World Vision Albania.

At the Child Friendly Space in Lezha, we met Mirela, Briselda’s mother. She looks sad and will not take her eyes off the children. Mirela came out of the hospital only two days ago. She appeared in the hospital because of her health condition caused by the experience of the earthquake, which she calls “the most horrible moment” in her life.

I thank God that the rocks from our damaged house fell outside the house and the collapsed plaster did not fall on my children who were inside,and we all were able to run out,”-says  Mirela painfully.

With tears in her eyes, she continues to tell us why she and her children had such a terrible experience because of the earthquake. 

The night the earthquake struck I was sleeping in the room only with my little 11-year old. I took him to sleep in my room because my husband had left 10 days earlier for Greece, to earn money on onlive plantations. He goes there seasonally to make money for the family as we have no other permanent income in the village to live in. I remember that the morning of the earthquake I took my sun in my arms son and shouted ‘earthquake’ so the other two children sleeping with my mother in law would hear. I rushed out of the house. Fortunately, my elder son pushed their room door forcefully and all five of us managed to get to the yard. After a few minutes, I saw the house collapsing but we were all together. My mind went to my eldest daughter who lives in Tirana, studying Geography. My heart was beating so hard that it seemed to jump out of my chest. I called her. First, she did not answer. That made me worried.  Only after a few minutes, I managed to get in touch with her and I recall that when she answered, I only asked whether she is alive. I heard her shaking voice on the other end saying, “Mom, I am well; are you all well?’ remembers Mirela in tears.

The sad morning

The house was hugely damaged and it was clear nobody could live there anymore. The rocks of the second floor have fallen, the wall on the first floor has been moved, and the plaster had fallen on the beds and other house items.

“We stayed in the yard. The children were cold. I tried to go inside and grab as many clothes as I could find; I found only a few things because of the mess inside. When inside I noticed that the fallen plaster had covered the shelf of the children’s books and I could not get them,- says Mirela with regret.

Mirela and her family for two days stayed partly in the yard of their house and partially at their  neighbor’s who temporarily offered them a room. Mirela’s husband hurried back from Greece, concerned about his children. Upon his arrival, they found shelter at husband’s uncle home.

By that time house inspectors told them that their house was uninhabitable, and they had to move to a hotel with many other affected families. Here the family separated, Mirela and children moved to the hotel and the husband stayed in the village.

“Only the kids and I came to the hotel. My husband stayed in the village and sleeps outside.

He couldn’t leave our cow, pig, some chicken, the cats, and the doginattended and without care-tells Mirela.

Dreams of Mirela and her children

‘Our desire is to go back home as soon as possible; I miss the cats, the dog; I always used to take care of them,” Briselda says sadly.

Briselda misses the house, the school, and her friends, as well as the pets.

“I enjoy   Child Friendly spaces too, from the first days we came with the brothers, there were many fun things to do and we also learned some new things,” says Briselda.

Today, Mirela’s children restarted school classes one more step ahead helping the restore .

I am happy that the children went back to school; I do not want them to stay behind the classes because we don’t know how long this situation will last. I like this Child Friendly space created specifically for the children. It has helped them overcome the shock faster. It is the only place where the kids can spend fun time and not be stuck in the one room,” tells Mirela

Over 100 children are sheltered in the complex in Shëngjin where World Vision Albania established a Child Friendly Space.

Many of them are at kindergarten age and they can attend kindergarten between 08:00 and 12:00 right at the Child Friendly Space. In the afternoon, the children are offered a programme designed to entertain and educate them with the goal to provide a psychosocial support.