Tirana 3 June 1999
The first group of volunteers left Tirana today for Vlora, speedboat town.
Training, motivated like hell, and ready to start. Aware that the mission
they are on means cutting their way through the forest. But as said they are
highly motivated and have prepared themselves for the impossible.
After they left, George and I went to the culture palace to wait for the
bus from Germany, with which my girlfriend would arrive. It should arrive
somewhere around 8.00 o'clock they said. But knowing the situation here we
went at 11 o'clock to the travel agency to ask if the bus was already in
Albania. Hurry, the bus had arrived with the boat this morning in Durres,
up to there things go almost accoording to the time schedules announced beforehand. Once in Durres you should forget all about timetables. From there you must take it as it comes.
Ramona, my girlfriend, spent hours walking around the Durres port. She met
some interesting people there, like a Danish truckdriver who had been driving a
load down for Unicef, but hadn't been able before yesterday to reach somebody
at the Unicef office in Durres to come to Durres to free him and
his truck plus load from the port. Yesterday they told him to hang in
there, they will do their best to get him out before the end of the week.
He was doing fine, had aircondition in his trailer. But even with the
coordination office of IRC in Durres port it is still not always easy to
get loads through, that mostly depends on the receiving organisation, like, whether Unicef would come down with their stamp to get it out, when they are not coming, nothing will happen.
Like what happened to three landrovers, who are standing already for weeks in Durres port, they are a gift from Caritas Austria to Albania, but it seems, so the story goes, they hadn't specified a receiver for it, they are just standing there now, until they will be totally dismantled. The coach Ramona was on had more
luck, although of course some of the papers were missing (even when this coach has been
coming here twice a week for years already). Both the busdrivers, who were Turkish, one
who never had been here and one who last was here in 1994, didn't believe
their eyes when they drove throuh the country to Tirana, even for
busdrivers in those big buses it is not that easy to get through the country.
George and I decided to eat somewhere on the roadside where the bus would
pass and we just entered a restaurant when we saw a big silver bus coming
down the road, we waved it down. It stopped and we drove on through the
chaos of Tirana to the stopping point behind the national museum. Ramona
was the only passenger on the bus, in fact there were all in all only eleven
persons on it from Germany to here, the rest had left directly in Durres. They
came to look for their families. No volunteers for the UCK this time, most
are already here. 45.000 UCK soldiers are now fighting in Kosov@ an UCK
spokemen announced the other day, they also announced that the UCK will
stop fighting when Milosovic withdraws his troops from Kosov@.
Ramona's first impressions of Tirana and Albania were that she was less
surprised as she had thought she might be, the road wasn't as broken as she had
thought, and for the rest it was all there as she had imagined by reading
my diary. So those who have been reading the diary, you wouldn't be as
surprised as I was in the beginning.
Back in the sunflower house the first new volunteers from the next group
had arrived, from Ecuador, USA and Switzerland. Besides that, Mark and Goran
from Germany returned, with three big kitchens which will probably go to Burat..
And a French guy from Food'n Rock popgroup, he has to stay for another ten days
in this country to wait until the french army comes with a big ship, full
of humanitarian aid, as he wants to ship his two trucks back on
this ship (he has been trying to sell them here, but there had been too little time
to get everything organised). So the house is getting filled up again. Juan
from Ecuador brought a nice surprise, a baseball cap with a nice
sunflower on it. Which I immediatly put on to the Unicef meeting.
It was the day of the weekly Unicef meeeting on child friendly spaces.
Today we were told that Unicef is taking on a more aggressive way of
fundraising since up to now by far not enough funds came in. There are some
footballs, and school materials in box sets, but not enough for all the almost
thousand camps around this country. There wasn't much more at the moment.
It is like all the UN bodies this moment, none of them really has money.
This diary today won't be that long, since I spent the evening with
Ramona, we hadn't seen each other for almost five weeks.