O nás Pro dárce Pro dobrovolníky Kosovský deník Fotogalerie Odkazy
Tirana Diary 26 May 1999

Tirana 26 Mai 1999

One of the activities the Albanian Youth Council was undertaking before this crisis started were information actions about aids and drugs. So that was the reason why I was in a nice new minibus today, with on the outside the famous slogan "stop sida (Aids)" with the condom in the middle. We drove via the mountain road to Durres, which is much nicer than the "highway". Lot's of foreign aid NGOs have found that out as well. And it was kind of funny to drive in this "stop aids" van between the red cross, salvation army aid, unhcr, unicef, crs, workers aids, norwegian people aid, and what ever van and landrovers, between the dutch, italian, france, uk, belgian, usa and german army vehicles, from Afor, Sfor, NATO, OSCE, etc.. (Stop AIDs suddenly had another meaning for me). The country side is nice, although it is a chaos, everywhere people are building or half finished buildings are standing (in which refugees have found cover). And the albanian drivers are the most creative drivers in the world I think, in some way I am glad that the roads are that bad, since other way the traffic accidents would be much more harmfull. On the way to Durres we figured out that if the Albanian police would really function and give penalties to every car which is not respecting the traffic rules it would not only be able to pay there policemen properly, but surely could rebuild the roads. I have a respect for these drivers how they can manage cars are able to come from every side at the same time and you have to watch the road not to distroy your car in one of the many big holes. In Durres we headed for a seminar organised by the Albanian Youth Council for people being active outside the bigger cities, the rural area. It was a joint seminar for Albanian and Kosov@ youth council members. We went to a big hotel, surprisingly empty, in Croatia during the refugee crisis all hotels were taken for refugees. The seminar room was poorly equiped, the blackboard was hardly useable, the black paint hasn't been renewed in at least 30 years or so and for the rest hardly any of the chairs or tables was somehow standing stable, with paper and stones under the poles they didn't wobble all the time. Denix, the specialist of the youth council for aids and anti-drug action explained in the seminar what "round-tables" are and how you could organise round-table meetings in small cities in order to tackle problems like how to go against f.e. the drug abuse (drug use is going sky high at this moment). You notice how the Albanian structures work. People were asking questions like, if everybody tells about their ideas, other organisations could steal your idea easily and get the profit for it. It is this feeling everybody has to survive for themselves. I don't know how to make that clear. But during this discussion I started to understand that local NGO's are like money generating machines. If you run them you are able to generate a good income for yourself. A big set of controlling structures was been described how to control that international moeny giving to a local NGO was not disappairing in the pockets of private people. One of the other speakers at this seminar was the mayor of Rrushbull, a small 18.000 inhabitants big town next to Durres. Since I was here they also let me have a speech. And I had to answer questions like how much volunteers are earning, and so. Since they have heard that some volunteers earn a lot of money. So I tried to explain the word volunteer, but since in Albanian languages they more or less adopt the word volunteer not in the way as working voluntary, but in the way as working for a NGO this was hard to do. Anyway the mayor explained that in his towns now 13.000 refugees are living and that he has to deal daily with foreign NGO's and that that is not always easy, since they promise something, start something, find out that money is some how lost and run off, without finishing their projects. He explained how they set up a structure of control in his town how to proof to foreign NGO's that the money they donate is used in the right way. During his speech some workers were busy outside, repairing something, but having their radio turned on so load that I was more able to listen to "Wind of Change" from the Scorpions than what my translator was translating in my ear. I was a bit surprised by the way meetings and seminar were held here, allthough a speaker was busy explaining something, the 30 or so participants where having their own discussions, and people were running in and out of the room or were taking photos all the time. Rather distrubing. I already noticed that yesterday with the preparation meeting of people going to work in Mullet, but today it became more clear to me that this is normal. Than we had a lunch break, and during the conversation, which went about flower power, jim morrison, bob dylan, yoga, beatles and all that it became clear that this country has been in such an isolation in the last 40 years that people really don't know what has happened in the rest of the world. They simply have to explain each other what the beatles were, where they came from, or how the rest of the world was ticking in those days. They look upon the world from Albania being the center of what they know. We had discussions about Freund and psycho-analyses, about free-love and the beat generation. About vegetarian food and books like lord of the rings and 1984. By the way to be honest this discussion was not started by me. It started with questions towards me about those things. They asked me of all kind of religious organisations, like the mormoms, like salvation army, like jahova wittnesses, like the araising church, the children of the holy mother, or what ever. Explaining me about them and asking if they were really so big movements around the world as they have understood from the thousands of different missionaries from all those groups who are going around this country. Most where so small that I have to ask them what they are, not knowing them, and honestly I have been doing my best over the last 25 years or so to get a kind of idea what kind of religions are existing in this world. Since I wanted to be a priest in my younger days I have been interested in those things. >From this seminar we drove to the youth center of Durres, the first thing they told me was that the nuns of the "Fratenite Notre-Dame" had waited for me for half an hour, but were just gone. This catholic group phoned me yesterday to talk to me, and I told that I would be in Durres in the youth center. To be honest I didn't know about that seminar. I just wanted to go to Durres to get it organised that Balkan Sunflower volunteers could get information at their youth center how to come to Tirana and if we could also work together with them. Since in Durres the local centre is doing a lot. The woman in the center had almost tears in her eyes when I said that we like to work together, but she had to ask her italian sponser organisation first. I have to tell over and over again by the way that I am called wam and not mister wam, or doctor kat, or what ever but just wam. And that they should be so polite towards me, I am just a dreamer walking around. On the way back to Tirana we made a short stop at the refugee camp which I described last week, it was gone now, the rain last week finally did it, the last refugees escaped from that camp and the organisation had to stop it. I am happy since this was beyoned all levels what you could offer towards people. During the rest of the drive I discussed a lot with my translator, a young student in english litrature, who was an officer in Albanian army before about warfare. He tried to explain strategies of warfare, and that he can't understand that NATO spend so much money on an airwar. If that money would have been given three years ago to these countries he said there wouldn't be any war. I told him that I have been saying that for years now.. But that nobody really like to listen to it. People here hope so deeply that the rest of the world will help them to get out of this mass they are in. They like to be part of europe. The town council of Tirana tries to get rid of the ten of thousands illegally build kiosks, houses and restaurants, but that is like we say in the netherlands trying to get dry with the water coming in at a higher speed. I mean people are building 3 floor houses, making their own telephone and electricity connection, dig the canalisation, lay pipes themselfs on places which nobody really knows to who it belongs. This contradictions of ultra rich and poor it is hard to understand. And the idea people have from the west, where they never have been, is driving me angry some times, in the sense that they think that the west is holy and everybody is driving mercedes. I bet there are more mercedes cars in Albania than in germany. By the way the prime minister of my homecountry, netherlands, was visiting Albania today, we seem to be a lot less important as the UK, since I haven't seen any dutch flags on the streets or any indication what so ever.. I hope that Rudi Lubbers had a nice visit. Yesterday we found out that the word pragmatic is not excisting in Albanian language, think about that one.......

wam :-)

ps sorry for all those spelling mistake yesterday, it was very late.