Swamp community needs heat

By June 30, 2009

Albania (MNN) — In Albania, one woman is living with four children on just a widow's pension– on swampland. The winters are harsh, and electricity for heating is expensive and unreliable. Her husband, mother, and uncle all passed away. But now, with the help of Operation Mobilization, she has a woodstove to keep her and the kids warm during the winter. 

Operation Mobilization recently visited this woman in the Keneta, or swamp, where 50,000 people congregated after it was drained at the end of the communist reign. It is near the coastal city of Durres where many people began moving in search of work. Living arrangements on the land are still unofficial: there are no water mains, for example. Though not all people living in the Keneta are poor, they are always seen as outsiders to those living in Durres. 

The woodstove the woman received was made possible by a donation from people in the Netherlands. Now, instead of paying high prices for electricity, they can gather readily available, free wood. Previously, their kitchen was their only living space in the cold winter. Now they'll have at least one more warm room. 

Hester, a woman working with OM in Durres, hopes to be able to give more families a woodstove next winter. She believes there are many women living in the area with lots of potential if only they had a little assistance with things like a small business or seeds for planting.

Albania was formerly the "world's first atheistic state." Today, the population is 70 percent Muslim, 20 percent orthodox Christian, and 10 percent Christian. As the second-poorest country in Europe, behind Moldova, the woman living in the swamp is not alone in her need. Almost every family has a family member living in Greece in order to find work and send money home. 

OM has teams in four larger cities and is reaching into smaller villages like the Keneta. Caring for those who are unreached is part of the ministry's vision, and providing much-needed heating to the poor is helping that vision become reality. 

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