Grants Help Albanian Children

I was walking along a downtown street in Berat, Albania when a young teenager pulled me over and asked, “Can you add?”  My response was, “Sure.  How can I help you?”  He replied, “Teach me quick!”  So I sat down on the curb with him, and did the best I could.

It is hard for most of us to believe that there are people who cannot add, or even sign their names.  But in Albania, schools for the majority of children were closed from 1991 until 1995.  And many children who had missed their initial years of schooling were not allowed into the schools when they finally did reopen.

Many of the schools in Albania were destroyed at the end of the tyrannical regime headed by Enver Huxha.  Almost all of  teachers who had been working under the Communists knew they would need money when the collapse came, so they sold all the desks and blackboards – and even cut the window glass out of the school buildings.  Those teachers then took their money and fled.  Today, there are so many students, and very few prepared teachers.

The Religious Teachers Filippini had been invited by the people of Berat to help the children who had never attended school, and to establish a new school.  We started with a scout troop.  Through scouting skills, the children learn not only how to write (especially their names, which always pleases them), but also many other skills they will need later on in life.  The Sisters are able to slip in traditional lessons through map skills, math by using a compass, and social skills and cooperation through camping trips.  Grants from U.S. and European organizations allow us to continue and improve this program each year.

Before beginning our own school, we visited an existing kindergarten.  It was being run by good women who saw the need, but none had any teacher training.  At lunchtime the children who paid tuition received a piece of hard bread with oil on it and a glass of water.  The children who could not afford to pay received just a piece of hard bread.  For most, this is all they had to eat all day!

With the help of grants from US and European foundations we built a beautiful school.  Presently the school goes to the fourth grade.  The teachers are all qualified, and the children receive all that they need.

We are indebted to for allowing us to participate in the grant writing course.  Through this program we learned how to secure the grants not only for the scout program but also for the construction of the school building and needed funding for teachers’ salaries!

by Sr. MaryBeth Lloyd

Sister MaryBeth Lloyd, a former student in our Grants Training Classes, is an American nun based in Rome.She is a member of Religious Teachers Filippini, who work with poor women and children in ten countries throughout the world.  Would you like to help?

Send your gift to:

Religious Teachers Filippini, 455 Western Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960

The Religious Teachers Filippini  is a tax exempt institution as defined by the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). EIN is 22-1487595.

2004 (c) Mary Elizabeth Lloyd

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