I have been meaning to write about this for some time; a wonderful project being undertaken by the partner of one of my dear friends.
Donald Dervishi is a teacher, born and bred in Albania, and along with his friend and colleague Borsion Spaho, they are building a school in the remote area of Skrapar. The building of this school is being funded entirely by themselves and donations, and they are physically building the school from scratch.
Located in Berat County, the total population of the Shkrapar municipality is 12,403 over an area of around 831km2. It is a remote area, famed for its folklore, raki, and the high number of Bektashi adherents, as well as its glorious surrounding countryside.
After visiting the area and witnessing the harsh conditions that school children faced in the area, Donald and Borison wanted to do something to help. With just a handful of students and one teacher, lessons were conducted in a single room that also had holes in the walls and roof meaning that they suffered at the mercy of the elements each and every day. Whilst the curriculum they were learning was the same one taught in every other school throughout the country, the fact that the teacher had to hold an umbrella over his head whilst he taught was something that these two could not accept.
The local school’s director had made promises that the school would be rebuilt as soon as funds were allocated to the project, but there were no forthcoming signs of this materialising. Because of this, Donald and Borison decided to take matters into their own hands.
“Teachers and colleagues in Albania should look at things differently- a teacher is not just about getting a degree or receiving a salary at the end of the month- you have a wider mission.”
Desperately looking for a source of funds, the two appeared on the popular game show “100 million”, where they managed to bag an impressive 2.5 million lek, but this was not enough to start the works. Determined to reach their goal, they started fundraising left, right and centre until a further 10 million lek was safely in their pockets, kindly donated by a mixture of individuals and businesses both locally and abroad.
As well as donations of funds, materials have also been donated meaning that lessons can commence this year in a much better, safer, and healthier environment.
A big well done to all involved in this project, this is something truly remarkable that to me, really reiterates the awesomeness of people power. Especially in developing countries or places where government resources and funding are scarce, it is easy to get disheartened and think that certain things remain impossible. But what these two gentlemen have done is something truly remarkable; against the odds, and in a selfless pursuit of wanting to help, they have achieved something amazing. Donald and Borsion are a shining example that everything is possible if you put your mind to it and that we do not have to sit around and wait for change to happen, change is something we can do ourselves.
Follow The Balkanista!