The bleak hard life in Darshen has been sending most of its inhabitants to the city in order to find a better standard of living. Only the least fortunate are left to live their subsistance style of living. Last week Mandi’and Xhina delivered a van load of goods to the people in Darshen . They were so grateful for this assistance.
By the picture you can tell we’re in the mountain village with our new friend, Dr. Tom. He has volunteered to help in the villages of Planters. Our neighbor lady to our children’s club meeting place had dental issues that required extraction. So in the middle of the street, outside of the club and beside the gristmill we set up our clinic and proceeded to see another 38 patients. In a rather public viewing, Dr. Tom got his tooth, the crowd was pleased, and she went away with less pain than she had before.
Or I should say, “Slider”. The path from the club to the village school is a 45 degree walkway for cows and shepherds that winds between mountain bushes. One of the many perils of not being a shepherd or a said beast with four legs is being an American with only two legs because without a doubt the American will fall and…enough said. I’ve included pictures of the children’s descent from school to our kid’s club meeting and then another picture of the aftermath of my descent with gravity. Other than the mud, I had to succumb to the jesting and laughter of the men at the bottom of the hill. The men were gracious enough to clean my stains from both mud and pride (much like the new TSA clearance rules for traveling). In this case it pays to be a cow.
There’s two things a successful photographer should never do: try to duplicate Iwo Jima and have your subjects turn their backs to the camera. I think in this case we’ll be given latitude for both.I’m helping raise the flag for the Darshen school. This flag is representative of the relationship between the school and America. It is a gift from Jake who lives in Texas, and as the saying goes, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” At the school they call him Big Jake, which I think is appropriate because of the big-ness of his heart. The flag originally was to be hung on a standard within the school but because of its size, it now uniquely adorns the south wall of the upper hallway. Every visitor and every student can’t miss it. Many thanks to Jake and Renee` for the tangible representation of this relationship. P.S. The school principal requested an American flag during Jake’s last visit. It was my privilege to deliver it. And, by the way, it did not fly over the Alamo.
Mandi and Xhina go to Darshen on Tuesdays. (FYI–a mountain village about an hours drive east of Tirana) Mandi took some great pictures of their home visit. The pictures speak for themselves. These girls do most of the work for the family since their Dad passed away 3 years ago. They are about 19 years old. In the picture of Migena washing clothes notice the pile of sticks behind her. They will be used to warm the pot for her hot water wash cycle. Mandi’s wife, Xhina, is the one with the jacket wrapped around her waist. Don’t you just love the picture of the men playing dominos? Notice their glasses are empty.(for now) By the way, the picture was not taken after working hours….try 11:00 a.m. The picture of the black pot is just what you think it is. They are making the Albanian adult beverage called raki (rocky). This village is so authentic. The stone house is how they lived many years ago. Not too many things have changed in this village the last hundred years.