Ibrahim Bajrami took me this morning to visit two of the “mobile homes” that Lidia Foundation has provided in the Delvinë area. These mobile homes are used for emergency accommodation for families with no home and who have a child with disabilities.
I was completely unprepared for what I saw and was moved to tears.
A Romani family had been living in a rat-infested barn and had a daughter (now aged 16) suffering from cerebral palsy. The Lidia Foundation provided a mobile home next to the barn and the family had moved in.
When I arrived, the mother and father greeted both Ibrahim and me and their three boys ran up to us to greet us. Their mobile home was clean and tidy. A physiotherapist employed by Lidia Foundation arrived to treat their daughter, and the family invited me to meet her. I will call her “Anna” to preserve anonymity.
Anna was lying on her side, and was crying in pain and discomfort. Her body and arms and legs had wasted away and her arms and legs were no more than 3cm in diameter, almost no flesh on the bones. She was so badly malnourished that she has only days left to live.
I asked why she was not in intensive care receiving intravenous feeding. The family and Ibrahim told me that she had been in the Sarandë hospital several times, but the hospitals only receive enough funding to keep people in beds for a few days, and each time after two days, they had sent her home again.
There is no “hospice” in the south of Albania to provide medium term acute care for Anna. Her mother and father cannot deliver food intravenously, and when they try to feed their daughter with soup, she cannot swallow it.
In England and the USA, Anna’s life would be saved through the intervention of a hospice that would return her to health after a few weeks of intravenous feeding. In the south of Albania, I expect to attend Anna’s funeral in a few days’ time.
Ibrahim told me that if the Lidia Foundation had sufficient funds, they would start a hospice to care for the many girls and boys in similar situations to Anna. A British charity had started a hospice in Sarandë about ten years ago, but this had closed through lack of ongoing finance. It is now used by the Sarandë government as part of the university, and ironically, the chapel built by the British charity is used by the Baptist and Evangelical Churches in Sarandë, and I join those services most weekends.
I mourn for Anna and for her father and mother who broke down in tears when we left them. I felt like I had just condemned their daughter to death.
Although it will not save Anna’s life I want to help raise funds for the new hospice. Will you help also, by making a donation to the Lidia Foundation today?