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.
Northern Albanian Folk Tales, Myths and Legends by Arti Malaj and coming soon the Castle of Teskom by Kim Malaj.
Generations of Northern Albanian are known as great story tellers. They shared many folk tales, myths, and legends with their descendants. The collected short stories include mysterious legends of lost treasures, mystical tales of mountain fairies, superhuman powers, century-old witches, blood feuds, and more written by a twelfth-generation Albanian. The lands described in the stories are still visible today, and locals share a sense of wonder and respect the mysteries that hide beneath. Northern Albania is a true treasure of raw natural beauty and a hidden gem in Southeastern Europe.
Shiny ember rocks are fuel for time; the dull rocks are a fool’s dime.
An old nursery rhyme, or so they think.
Itra and Danae stumble across an ancient secret kept hidden behind a reflection in time near their Albanian home. A faded memory and cryptic messages have propelled them to risk an encounter with foes from Greek mythology, altering their perception of Albanian folklore and reality. Itra and Danae grapple with events set in motion centuries ago and must choose to protect and serve or risk having the secret exposed.
Will love, loyalty, and lineage be enough to hold them together, or will they lose their way in a universe they are only beginning to understand?