Art and Kim worked with Int'l Book Project to bring over a shipment of books for the near empty school libraries here in Bajzë, Albania. They toured the school libraries with the local school administration. It was heartbreaking most scholastic books were decades old, tattered, covers and pages missing and the shelves were barely stocked.
The nearest community library is in the capital, Tirana, 2 hours by car and most would have to take a bus to travel that far so closer to 4 hours. Reading is the weakest subject in Albania, the EU Ministry of Education and Sports in cooperation with UNICEF, is promoting the ‘Albania Reads’ initiative to improve the country’s performance in reading.
As many people have transitioned to e-readers or the Kindle app on a phone, access for the 450 school aged children is very limited. Most households don't have a working computer, internet or cell phones for the children. So books in hand are crucial to swing the learning curve in a positive direction and inspire the next generation.
While Albania’s economy continues to grow, its total government expenditure is the lowest in Southeastern Europe with only 3% of its budget allocated to education and 3.7% to health. Our local teachers furnish everything for their classrooms including desks, chairs, computers, projectors and scholastic materials. The teacher's dedication to the youth is astounding, they provide so much for their classrooms and students.
Our fundraising goal is $6,000 this breaks down to:
Approximately 5,941 Books donated by the Int'l Book Project
Donated Book Shipment from US to Albania = $4627
Port fees, taxes and shipping in Albania = $100
New shelving, two rolling book carts and paint for the libraries = $1,273
We're actively looking for local businesses and community leaders to assist with fundraising but I hope my friends, family and neighbors back home can help support literacy and our rural community teachers.
Kim Malaj lives on a vineyard and homestead in northern Albania with her husband, Arti, author of Northern Albanian Folk Tales, Myths and Legends. Although she is a Show Me State (Missouri) lady at heart (Go KC Chiefs and Royals!), she loves her life at Homestead Albania.
When she is not writing, she is tending to the garden, orchard, vineyard, or livestock. Even brewing up several batches of raki, making wine, and other sweet and savory treats made from the fruits and veggies produced in the garden. She is an avid photographer, keeps an active blog about their homestead, and hobbyist drone pilot, learning the art of drone photography and filming.
Arti Malaj, raised in northern Albania during the height of Communism, had its share of challenges and limitations. Religion abolished, food rationed, and essential items limited. We lived in a multi-generation home; dinner was always a significant event with immediate and extended family, often followed by music, translated stories read by my uncle or legends told by my Grandfather Gjeto, never a dull moment. My journey post Communism included university studies, obligatory military service, immigration to the US, business owner, husband, author, and currently living on my tenth-generation vineyard, orchard, and home in northern Albania.
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