I can’t speak for anyone else. I can only speak for me.
Credit: Nate Dushku
My country, Albania, erupted after the ‘pyramid schemes’ that left its citizens crippled.
I was 10 years old.
I could not attend school, any longer. I could not safely step outside, any longer. I could not see my friends, any longer.
I could not be, any longer.
I once saw a man get shot to death in front of me. I ran home knowing anyone could storm into the house at anytime, kill every single soul, and lay claim to the ‘space.’
Shootings outside the front door, loud explosives going off and people dying everywhere. Terror was the norm. Sleepless nights and delirious days were now the way of life.
The war in Kosovo was in full effect. Millions of Albanian Kosovars flooded Albania, the Balkans, and eventually, the rest of the world.
We were poor, in Albania. We had no money and barely any materialistic goods; the country had been robbed.
But when Kosovars came, we opened our homes.
We opened our hearts.
We shared what little pie we had because food always tastes better in the company of the living and laughter.
Albania was occupied by the Axis powers. Fear was in the air.
It didn’t deter them from protecting their Jews.
It didn’t deter them from taking in and protecting ‘other’ Jews, who were escaping discrimination and/or death everywhere else. Muslims in Albania risked their lives to protect Jews.
They opened their hearts.
‘This concept of Besa (faith) in a little country (like Albania) has something to tell the world. That’s why it’s so important.’ [….] ‘We often remember courageous acts by individuals, but in this case it is an entire community, an entire group of people who acted according to their beliefs that prevented them from allowing another set of people being annihilated,’ she says. ‘And it was so rare at a time when the rest of the world was silent, including Canada.’
Brenda Suderman, Photo exhibit shines light on Muslims saving Jews
Albania had ~200 Jews within its borders before WWII. By the end of the war, it had ~2000.
The rest is history.
The present and our future.
We are all citizens of the world. We are all living beings on this planet. With every right to breathe its air and drink its water. It isn’t anybody’s to claim or take away.
Love is the only way to be alive.