Klodi, a New Bike Owner in Albania

by Ened Mato
Fall 2015 InGear

Pedaling towards freedom… This is a story about a 7-year-old boy named Klodi. Because of a vendetta initiated by his father and the resulting threats from another family, Klodi has lost his opportunity to go to school and to learn basic mathematics and how to read and write. Klodi is one of 70 similar children who share the same isolation from society and isolation from opportunities.

2015fallAlbania_Klodi_AlbaniaEcovolis donated the first 3 bikes to these children in the Malesia and Madhe region of Albania. The Malesia and Madhe region is in the far northwest of Albania, about 100 miles from the capital, Tirana, where the P4P partner Ecovolis runs the bike sharing program described in the Summer 2011 InGear newsletter. The Malesia and Madhe region is home to about 40,000 of the 3 million people of Albania. The region lies on the Albanian border with Montenegro. To the west lies the Adriatic Sea, which separates Albania from the bootheel of southeastern Italy.

2015fallAlbaniaKlodi_10We’ve had a very positive reaction from the community and the media, so we decided to expand our program to the children of 20 other families who remain confined to their homes because of vendettas.

What we saw when we visited these families was really different from what we usually see on TV, as this subject has been covered by the media in Albania many times. We knew of difficult living conditions; what we learned was that not only were the situations unchanged for many years but that children were under even more pressure than we thought. Not only did the families have little to no access to education. The children were also robbed of their childhood in other ways, because a majority of the families had little to no income and they could not afford the simplest of toys.

We were accompanied by a local volunteer teacher, Liljana Luani, who teaches these children basic reading skills and math. She told us many details of how these families lived and survived; it was really sad how little was done for them.

5-1We talked to many children. Most of them, because they had no social life, were terribly withdrawn. They spent all day with their families but they made no friends and were eager to do something new. They did not know that we were coming to visit, and you could see the surprise and pleasure in their eyes to meet new people and receive a gift most loved by children, this small symbol of freedom – a bicycle. We spent some time with each of them in order to learn their names, ages, and daily routines. But they could not take their eyes off the bikes. Even though the Malesia and Madhe region is very near Shkodra, which historically is the Albanian bike capital, half of the children didn’t know how to ride a bike. We helped them with the basics and did our best to equip and modify the bikes to the needs and pleasures of the children.

We had a very positive reaction to our social programs. The media drew attention to the problem once more, but the coverage was different: this time there were more smiles. As we made clear on every single occasion, we know the needs of these children are big and various. If we could, we would do more, give more. Equipping these children with bikes is a pleasure for us, because it’s a pleasure for them.

We are talking with Liljana about giving sewing machine to some of the mothers so they can create handicrafts to sell and raise their income. We will let you know the details as our plans evolve.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply