Sunday, 5 May 2013

Korca Part 1

When we arrived Edi, on the right above, who leads the church was there to greet us and we went to a cafe for a drink with Flori, in the photo, and other guys. Some of our guys will remember Flori as he came second in Albania's version of Who's got talent, and he sang with our band when we held the concerts in Elbasan and Librazhd.  We caught with everyone and then to our hotel.  There is no one in Edi's church who has the space to put us up.  The whole area where we had coffee is a market area, pazaar, and Edi and his father were market traders.  Ann bought a tave, a large flat pan for cooking meat, potatoes and vegetables in all at the same time.

Korca is considered to be Albania's cultural capital. It has many fine buildings. At the end of the first World War for a short time Korca was declared a Republic and protected by France.  Albania's first boys and then girls schools were built here and French taught in the schools, the only place in Albania to do this.

Having then booked ourselves into the hotel, had a wash and sorted ourselves, it was time to go to a Lifegroup run by Olsi, the guy in the photo below, on the left. Some of them we knew already such as Elvis, a drummer, in the back on the right, and Kostika in the centre at front who translated for us. Just in front of Elvis is the lady whose house we were in and on her right behind the boy is Xhenie, (Jenny) a nurse who is training to be a midwife, only she cannot afford the exam fee. The biggest issue for most people in the church and for the people of Korca is getting work.  People who do work often work 7 days a week, yes all 7 days, for very little money.  It is a problem with a mixed Muslim and Christian Orthodox society, people are always at work, there is no one accepted time off from work or holidays.  An evening meal with Edi and Artina and their son Michael, and that was the end of day one in Korca.

The next day was the 1st May, a holiday for some, and so we went with Edi and Artina, their son Michael, Clinton, a South African guy from the Newfrontiers Worthing church and us in their VW Golf to Dardhe. Dardhe is up in the mountains and is Albania's only ski resort. Snow is till on the mountain tops.  Dardhe started life as an escape place for Orthodox Christians who didn't want to accept Muslim rule. Now it is an area where people go to at weekends to escape to the countryside, have picnics and cook over an open fire. Some with money have built themselves expensive private retreats like this below.

Or this

Original houses look like this below.

This is us, just in case you have forgotten what we look like!

Edi and Artina tucking in!  We ate roast lamb, chips, Greek salad, grilled vegetables and lakror me sac.

This is the lakror me sac, which was new to us.  It is like thin pancakes with a tomato and onion filling or spinach filling. Very tasty.

On our way home we saw these ladies cooking lakror me sac in the field over an open fire for the family picnic.

Then back to Korca for two Childrens worker meetings.  The 5-11's and then the 11-14's.  At the meetings we are meeting their key workers, sitting in and hearing their plans and the learning the way they do things and the issues they have.  It is much the same as working with children any where; never enough helpers, our equipment gets used by other people and so on! A meal at Edi and Arta's home and the end of another day.

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