Bathore, Albania 2014
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Our first project in Albania is under way! What began as a trip to explore widows needs in 2014 has resulted in eager learners in Bathore.
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Our partner is Enkeleda Kumaraku, founder of Radio 7 in Tirana. Partnering through a church, these motivated women have great needs and have experienced great loss. With children to support and few opportunities in Bathore, which is on the outskirts of Tirana, they will learn quickly and have new opportunities in that capitol.
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You may be wondering, “Why Albania?” All of our projects to date have been in Africa. Here’s a bit of history for this project. I visited Radio 7 in 2014. Here’s what I wrote.

“Albania’s beauty is beyond words. Mountains rising on either side of silver rivers, lush vineyards, roses of hews I’ve never seen before.
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Its contrasts are equally beyond description. Sleek new buildings, the capital Tirana bustling with buses, cabs, and Mercedes in abundance. And old men leading their milk cows along highways. Old women cutting down cornstalks with machetes bundling them for winter use.

The Albania I visited in 1998 is no more. Yet it seems in conflict with itself. Wanting to become economically vigorous, many are unemployed, sections of new highways are connected by dangerous tiny two ways best traveled in daylight. No wonder Albania’s symbol, the two headed eagle, with the heads facing opposite directions, is still relevant today.

I came away leaving another chunk of my heart there. (Yes, one chunk has been left behind in Africa.) It’s people are real, unpretentious, marked deeply by past wars, reserved in awarding their trust, tied to tradition, yet yearning for better ways for themselves and their children.

I came to appreciate the work worn handshakes of war widows. After hearing their stories, I imagine that the calluses on their hearts could be greater than those on their hands.
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I was greeted with warmth by Kumaraku family members who would be my hosts, guides, early morning wake up knocks on my door, and late night sorting and pondering the jam packed days. Extended family under one roof is common. But the Kumaraku family is uncommon. Enkeleda, who started Radio 7 had invited me through our contacts at National Religious Broadcasters. 7 months pregnant, husband Shayne hovered near her, and sisters Jona and Majlinda are full time, all in partners in Radio 7. Mom, Louiza and Dad complete the family. Late night dinners, eaten in the kitchen with all of us packed in, conversations were sometimes English, sometimes Albanian, which of course, I did not understand.
Our trips took us to Prishtina Kosovo to see Radio 7’s new station there, and Gjakova to visit with war widows, hear their stories and encourage them. Sharing God’s great love for widows and His ability to strengthen and defend them, my time with them was too short. Yes, I shared the stories of courageous widows in Scripture.
I was humbled by their acceptance of me, this stranger who only shared the common bond of widowhood, and little else. Many had seen their husband’s murdered, fled with multiple children and lived in conditions beyond description simply to survive.”
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My narrative of that visit was much longer. But you can see why Widow Connection would want to come along side these courageous women. What started in October 2014 with a visit will change the lives of many. These women, their children, and folks looking on seeing that God cares for widows. Baby Andrew is 4 months old now. The Kumaraku household is bustling more, and I’m eager to go back this fall and attend their graduation.