Under My Umbrella

With apologies to Rihanna for the title of this article, I wanted to tell a story about umbrellas.  It’s a happy umbrella story because it involves people who were in despair and who are now happy.  Because of umbrellas.

The story begins with a Romani community who settled near Delvinë about eight years ago.  The town council allocated land to them.  There was insufficient funding in the town council to provide housing or education.  A team from Lidia Foundation installed temporary mobile housing and brought in teachers for the children and an expert on “thatching” who taught the men and teenagers how to thatch roofs.

Ibrahim took me to visit the community on Monday this week, and I asked the village elders for permission to take some pictures of the families and their activity.

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After some successful contracts building and repairing thatched roofed homes, the community decided to start making thatched umbrellas. Two of the men have become expert welders and construct the iron framework for the umbrellas.  Ibrahim (yellow shirt) is chatting with one of them.

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Abundant natural reed beds in the Delvinë valley provide the raw materials for the thatch.  You can see some of the reeds drying here.  A team young people weave and strap together the reeds to form umbrella shades.

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Here are some of the finished umbrellas waiting for the customer to collect them …

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There was an amazing co-incidence the next day, when I saw the team installing these same umbrellas right outside my apartment in Sarandë …

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Sometimes I think that co-incidences like these come from heaven!  In my opinion this has been an example of a real success story for the way  money donated to the Lidia Foundation saves and transforms lives of entire communities.  Turning tears of sadness and despair into tears of joy and hope.

I spoke to my friend and landlord “Jimmi” about it because Jimmi lived in Delvinë for many years.  He knows the people in this community, speaks highly of them, and they are his friends.  Jimmi’s warmth towards people of different backgrounds and cultures is typical of all the Albanian people I have met.  Whether a person is Christian, Moslem, Atheist or from another country, it makes no difference.  The friendships and concern shown for one another are genuine and lasting.

If this story moves your heart, and you want other families like this one to have hope and happiness in their lives, then please give something to the Lidia Foundation today.

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