There are 2, 871,000 people living in Albania. Of these, 1,000,000 are children between the age of 0 and 19. Of these children, 70,000 are disabled.
We were told we were going to meet with a family that World Vision has been helping. However, we had to walk up this ‘road’. They call this a road? There were parts of this so-called road that went up a steep incline and the rocks were slippery as it had rained earlier. At some points, I didn’t think I would be able to make it. The Albanian staff laughed at me and told me that ‘little children walk this way to go to school’.
The family lives in higher terrain. The father greeted us outside the home and shook our hands. I looked up and my eyes met his sombre expression. The mother greeted us in her home where she sat holding her nine-year-old son in her arms. She was smiley and seemed happy to have visitors.
Their house reminded me of a Scottish bothy. It was small and made of stone with just one family room. The room was sparse. It had a stone floor and walls and a couple of old sofas around a wood table. It had a kitchen area which consisted of a table-top two-burner stove sitting on a worktop and a sink. We were told the house was not theirs but on loan from a family member.
We gathered around the wooden table, as the mother told us their story.
The youngest child, Klevis, is severely autistic. His story seemed unusual to me. He was born like most children, healthy and strong but when he was still an infant, he became ill with a very high temperature. He was taken to the hospital where he stayed for several weeks. Eventually, after receiving treatment, he got better and went home.
As he began to grow however, there were a few noticiable delays in his development but he was still progressing. The doctors kept changing his diagnosis. At the age of six he was offered a medical treatment which didn’t work. In fact,he suddenly began to regress. He lost his speech and the ability to dress himself and use the toilet. He became unresponsive and violent. He would often run off and once got badly bitten by a dog and had to have eleven stitches. Because of this, his mother now spends her whole life holding him so he is kept safe.
I turned my gaze to Klevis’ father. Although he stayed in the room with us, his face looked distant. He was polite to us while we were there but he never smiled. We were later told that he is suffering from depression. He has not been able to find work and so cannot support his family.
Klevis has an older brother just a year older. During our visit, he was smiley and sociable like his mother. He also would demonstrate smalll acts of love and kindness towards Klevis. I wonder at how he could stay so positive and be so loving towards his brother who takes up all of his mother’s time.
We were informed that some fundraising was done to build the family a home of their own – one that would be safer for Klevis and help his mother to be free to do work around the house. Building work had started on the house but they ran out of funds to finish the job. World Vision has been helping the family with their medical expenses and the staff have been driving them to doctors and therapists appointments.
I don’t know what all the answers are for this family, but a secure house with a fence around it would certainly be a massive help to start with. I can’t see how the mother can go on holding the child as he gets older and grows stronger.
I was then shocked to find out how little work had been done on the house. It’s something we saw throughout Albania – houses partly built and then abandonned due to lack of finances.
When I returned home, I thought about this family a lot. Although, there were a lot of projects we visited that needed help. Many of them were within schools who needed more funding. They were also projects that could wait a bit longer. Klevis’ family needs help now. Another sponsor and I have made a decision to fundraise for this family until the funds are reached and the house can be built. I asked and was told that the house would cost 1192540 in Lek. A mere £8,244. We are trying to raise £9000 to help with any extra needs the family will need.
You can watch a video about Klemis below.
To visit my fundraising page, please click here.