by Ashley Henderson
On Tuesday, November 26 just before 4:00 in the morning, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the village of Thumanë near Durrës, Albania. Across the nation, 7,900 buildings were damaged, leaving 40 churches without places to meet; 6,000+ were left homeless and searching for shelter in hotels, tents, and with relatives; 3,000+ were injured; 51 people died making this the deadliest earthquake in 2019. Thankfully, 45 individuals were recovered from the rubble by rescue teams that came from across the world.
Desiring to pair deeds with our faith, we jumped into action immediately (James 2:14-17). By Wednesday night, a group of Kenedi volunteers arrived in the village of Pezes bringing tents, food, heaters, soap, and hygiene to the people in need. Since that first week, we have sent at least one group per week to the village near Durrës to provide for the many needs of the victims.
Last week, two teams from Korce and another from Pogradec made the two and a half journey out to Thumane to partner with a local church in their aid attempts. The building the church was using was irreparably damaged and marked with a red X. This mark serves to warn anyone who enters that they are in danger. Each team member tensed as we entered into the building we were just told was unsafe.
Once inside, all fears were lost as our task was set before us. The entire first floor was filled with bags of clothing, juice, water, and miscellaneous items sent from all over the world. The team was directed to open each marked bag of clothing and repackage in a box complete with clothing for men, women, and children. After about an hour, there must have been twenty to thirty boxes stacked high by the door. After a quick rest, a honk was heard in the road as a yellow van approached. Almost instinctively everyone picked up a box and took it outside, repeating this action until the van was full.
After the clothing packs were delivered another batch of donations came on a flatbed truck with no sides. The group of workers formed an assembly line to unload all the supplies quickly and safely. The bags of clothes from the truck replaced those that were just given out and cans upon cans of beans, hot dogs, corn, tomatoes, and soups were loaded into the limited space left on the ground floor of the structurally compromised building.
The final job for the day was unloading another van stocked with lunch items. Pasta in tin packages, hard-boiled eggs, bread, sandwiches, fruit, and yogurt. Once again, the team fell into a seamless assembly line that reacted to and anticipated each other’s moves flawlessly. There is something so beautiful about strangers working together harmoniously for the benefit of other strangers, all out of love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
With the harsh, winter weather settling into the country it is our priority to ensure that the families affected have what they need to fight the elements. At this moment, the best course of action is to deliver food, warm clothes, blankets, and tents to the families in need. As Christmas comes and goes, our plan of action will change but our focus will still be providing care for everyone.
We will come alongside the churches in and around Tirana, enabling them to support those in need and display God’s love in a tangible and necessary way. Working hand in hand with these leaders will create a relationship-based ministry. We will provide food and other supplies to the families.
As our volunteers get to know the children and their families, individual needs will be met. These individual needs are often the gaps that are overlooked by the government and other organizations. Instead of delivering twenty pairs of shoes to a group that needs medicine and a tent, we can provide each individual with the exact item they are in need of.
Preparing and delivering food is a complicated process because it has to be prepared and packaged in separate locations before being delivered to the families. Taking this into consideration, we bought a food truck that will enable us to provide fresh, nutritious food efficiently and as needed.
Another stage in our plan is to create a child-friendly space. We were approached by local authorities and the National Christian Alliance to provide psycho-social support for the children that may have experienced trauma during this event. Our desire is to create a place for them to play in organized settings and receive help from the trauma they have experienced. These areas will allow children to return to a sense of normalcy and to healthy routines, what every child needs in the wake of a disaster. (James 1:27)
We have received calls and messages from supporters and friends around the world, asking what we need. Clothing and food have come from many nations and places within Albania. Our plan is transitioning into the second phase which consists of individual care and the food truck. What we need most is your financial support to purchase things like medication, glasses, shoes, and tents. Your donations will also support the upkeep of the food truck. If God is calling you to give please click here. Choose Earthquake Assistance under Category & Funds.
Whether you choose to donate or not, we ask that you please pray for the families of those who lost their lives, the families that are displaced and looking for a place to stay, and for authorities and charities to meet the needs of the people the best we can. Pray that we use this as an opportunity to draw people closer to God. May God be with you.