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To start summer 2016 with, a workshop was held in June at the nursing home. The whole event was organized and donated by a team from Norway. And of course, the seniors could take their own creation to their room. So they could enjoy it for many days. Nice initiative.

Vila Kenedi flowers1 workshopVila Kenedi flowers2 workshopVila Kenedi flowers3 workshop

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The Kenedi Foundation is pleased that the British musician Adrian Snell is again prepared to take up a collection during his Passion Easter concert for the benefit of this Albanian foundation. The five concerts on 24-28 March in several Dutch towns and cities will tell the Easter story in a musical way.

During the evenings, Adrian will also talk about his involvement in the Kenedi Foundation. Every summer the British musician visits Korce and uses music as a way to communicate with street children, the disabled and the elderly.

20160216 Fotoshoot Nardi (18)Nardi
Adrian will play some songs together with the Albanian musician Nardi Melesini. Nardi who was born in 1973, is one of the pastors and music leader at the evangelical church in Korce. He has a compassionate heart and a giving nature. Nardi writes his own worship songs and music. In 2008 Adrian and Nardi with an Albanian worship group made a CD. In 2015, Adrian recorded a pair of Nardi’s own music and songs. Nardi is also the chaplain of the prison in Korce and supports the families of the prisoners. Nardi is married and has one son.

The Passion
‘The Passion’ is one of the greatest works of the English songwriter and has influences from classical, modern and choral music. Through the songs the listener experiences the Easter story, with its various protagonists. It brings the alive the Easter story in a unique way!

The collection during the Christmas concerts by Adrian in December 2015 raised more than 6,000 euros. Tickets for the Easter concerts can be ordered through teh Dutch concert organisation

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Football is in Albania’s favourite sport. Many Albanians regularly play football, including a group of (Roma) boys that the Kenedi Foundation support. The group of 10-16 year olds receive twice weekly training and have a weekly football match on an indoor football pitch.

20160223 nieuwe trainingspakken 1000pix (7) The Dutch football club OWIOS donated the entire team tracksuits with children’s sizes to the Kenedi Foundation. Recently, these were distributed to the youth players who absolutely loved them. They even wanted to wear the new suits to school.

Additionally, there are new t-shirts, sports pants and socks for the teams on the way to Albania. It is lovely that these clothes are getting a new home over here.

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Jenny is a young mentor health doctor who has come from Scotland to serve for two weeks the Kenedi Foundation. Over the two weeks she has been giving therapy session in small groups and giving the staff Techniques to help them support the children’s emotional development and health.

Here in Albania, there is very little in the same of mental health services for children. I want to teach the children some coping techniques that the staff can then use with them, to help them get through times when they are very anxious, unhappy or angry. Sadly, we can’t do the kind of therapy that treats and heals the trauma they’ve suffered. This kind of therapy makes children worse for a little while before they get better. The situation that these children are in makes it too dangerous to let them go through that period of being worse. They need all the defences they’ve built up. Even therapy programs that are designed for children in war zones rely on them having parents who can hug them and comfort them if they start getting new nightmares or their behaviour becomes more difficult. These children won’t get comforted and are likely to get beaten instead.

therapy sessions (10)Effects of Trauma
Children who have grown up without supportive parents are very different from children who grow up in normal families. When a baby is first born, , everything is either catastrophically wrong or absolutely perfect. If the baby get reliable comfort when they’re upset, then slowly they start to learn that being upset isn’t a catastrophe because mum will come and comfort them. Once they’re toddlers they learn they can get comfort by running to mum. As they get older, they slowly internalise this so that they get less upset and can comfort themselves. The children at the centre haven’t been comforted, so the strength of emotions they have to deal with is even stronger than the newborn baby, because they’ve learned to be scared of this horrible experience. Then, they have to deal with situations that no child could deal with: watching their mother be beaten up by dad, being beaten themselves or being sexually abused.

To survive, the children learn strategies of numbing their emotions. This causes them problems when they’re older, but just now it’s helping them survive an unbearable situation. Normal therapy opens up those emotions, which is why we can’t do it with the children- just now they need to keep those emotions asleep.

Most of the children are constantly on the look-out for danger. If you imagine being in a war zone, never knowing what’s going to happen next, you can probably realise that concentration would be difficult. These children are in the equivalent of a war zone, but when they come to school they’re expected to sit down and concentrate as though they were safe. This is one of the reason school is so hard for these children and many of them drop out. For others, it takes them away from begging. Some of the children at the centre are the main breadwinners for their families.

All children start out with two beliefs, that their parents love them and that their parents are good people. If your parents are abusive you don’t change these beliefs, instead you start to believe that the problem is that you’re bad, so that your good, loving parents have to punish you. Although this is very sad, it is helpful in the short term because it gives the child a sense of power: if only they could change then things would get better.

therapy sessions (7)This sense of being bad and worthless is reinforced in other ways. The children aren’t kept clean by their parents, so don’t get the message that their bodies are important. Because punishment is usually due to an adult’s frustration or drunken-ness they learn that their bodies are there to be used by adults, not something that’s theirs. That means that sexual abuse is also harder to recognise as wrong- it may be horrible, but you’re used to adults doing bad things to your body for no clear reason.

The lack of self-worth the children have shows in lots of ways. It makes it hard to understand why you should look after your body and your clothes, why you should try hard at school, why you should try to behave well. We see it even when the children are asked to draw: they’re scared to do it in case they get it wrong. When the girls grow up and become mothers, it will make it harder to protect their own children- because they can’t see themselves as worthy of protection and their children are part of who they are.

Think about the amount of work it takes to teach children how to share. With your own children, or in Sunday school, you’re dealing with a situation where there’s enough food or snacks or treats to go round and the child is safe. These children often haven’t been taught by their parents: they live in a world where anything can be grabbed by someone bigger than them and where there can be a real shortage. That makes sharing rather than fighting incredibly challenging.

therapy sessions (18)Optimism
Even if we took these children into loving foster care tomorrow, they would never transform into “normal” children. The damage that is done early in childhood always endures, though to different extents in different children. The biggest risks for the children are alcohol/drugs and bad relationships- ones that draw them into trouble or that are abusive. Using alcohol is an obvious solution to overwhelming bad feelings and a lot of people with troubled childhoods will fall into abusing it.

The problem with relationships is that the children still have a template that love is how their parents behave towards them. No matter how much an adult might know that their parents were abusive, it’s very difficult to change those early templates. It means you don’t have an internal “radar” that warns you that people are bad news- likely to harm you or draw you into trouble.

The centre is the single most protective force in the children’s lives. It is giving them somewhere that they can be safe, somewhere that they can be children and a relationship with adults they can trust. It gives them a model for what love can look like: and so of what God might look like. If all you know of your own father is someone who comes home drunk and beats you and your mum for no reason, it’s pretty hard to imagine a perfect heavenly Father. The staff give the children a template for what a good Father might look like.

therapy sessions (3)When you work with mental health you develop a special sense of optimism. You don’t think about getting people to be being perfectly well, but you focus on getting them a tiny little bit better than they would be without help. Hopefully we can give these children some sense of self-worth and an experience of being valued and cared for.

God can do more
So far we’ve been talking about how humans develop naturally. God can do miracles, and we pray to Him to protect and guide these children. We hope that we’re one of the ways He uses to do this. Please pray for the children and the staff, that the children would understand and grow in the love at the centre and for wisdom and grace for the staff- to continue to hope and to know how best to love and protect the children.

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In September 2005, ten years ago, the American Rebecca started, after much deliberation, a ‘safe home’ for vulnerable Albanian girls in Korça. Her personal motto is: “To love children nobody else loves” and she created a safe environment for the girls so that they can work on their future.

In 2003 a day centre for vulnerable children opened in Korca for children who were during the day on the streets, playing, begging and just hanging around. Rebecca got to know them better and found out that within that group were two eleven year old sisters who were being sexually exploited in exchange for cigarettes, alcohol or food It was also discovered that a trafficker often visited their house. Rebecca decided to do something, before it was too late and the safe house project was born.

Long-term decision
The girls’ situation was heartbreaking and the state system had no clear answers for these problems. After thinking, looking around, consulting and praying the Kenedi Foundation decided to provide for these and other girls a shelter-house. This would allow them to grow up in a safer and more loving place and give them time to come to terms with their traumas. It was a big decision, because such a thing is not easily fixed and the establishment of a girls’ home was a long-term project.

Looking ahead
Rebecca: “I would like the next year to go for a deeper level, rather than absorb more girls. Together with the staff, we want to invest in ways for the staff and girls to work with their traumas, to find healing. We do this together with specialists from the United Kingdom who share their experience and knowledge. Although they will always carry the past with them, my prayer is that they may experience the healing power of God.”

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In August 1995 Marleen van de Voorde exchanged her Belgium for Albania. Now, twenty years later, she looks back on her time in Albania. She experienced a lot of highs and lows, but her trust in God gave her strength to persevere and continue. This is an interview with an enthusiastic person.

The 55-year-old Marleen sees herself as a passionate person who likes to works towards a goal. “When I was little I wanted to be a nurse, nobody could dissuade me. Similarly later on, when I wanted to go into missions. With that in mind, I chose a wide medical training so that I could use this knowledge later in the mission field. Finally God opened several doors so I could go on mission.”

Sharing Medical knowledge
“Through Bible smuggling work I got in touch with the Dutch organization ‘Dorcas’. They asked me to join a pilot project to teach village nurses around the East Albanian city Korce. The integration and teaching were going well, but it was difficult for the nurses to transform and put the theory into practice, partly because my vision of district nursing, according to the Albanian authorities, did not fit into their task list. In the end I gave medical lessons through a nursing school to the new generation nurses. I did that until 2000, I was for some months out of the country when the anarchy started in Albania and gangs ruled the country. Finally I developed a home care system in 1997 by myself for the chronically ill and disabled. I trained the staff by myself through the Kenedy Foundation, an Albanian Evangelical aid organization with which I still work.”

Twenty thoughts about Marleen from her immediate colleagues:
always called, helpful, trusting and reliable, easy going, fantastic, doesn’t see borders as obstacles, hard worker, works with whole heart, Jesus follower, can say hard things with a smile, sometimes driven, little fear, loving, irreplaceable, single, strong yet compassionate, has vision without fear, Flemish Albanian, seeks what’s right and yet is merciful and caring.

Almost abandoned
“At the end of the last century, I tried to start a lot of things , but there was little progress and I felt alone. My ideals seemed impossible to reach. I was in a difficult period and I took a six months break. Actually, I wanted to give up, unless I could work with the support of a local church and I could work with Christian nurses. I did not want to compromise and then God provided wonderfully with three nurses! I entered the new millennium with renewed energy, thank God!”

“There were just three nurses falling from the sky”

Many stretch
“The twenty years that I have worked over here has been a big learning time for me with a lot of ‘stretching’. That means that you often need to adjust expectations because things change. I never expected that I would lead an organisation, because I have a hands-on mentality. A good foundation on which you can build is hard to find here. And if there is a base, it is quite crooked. I’ve been here for twenty years, but sometimes I still do not understand things. Sometimes I am a bit naive. As a foreigner, you never know, communication is sometimes hidden behind veiled language. Sometimes it makes the work and living here quite tough.”

“A foundation upon which you can build here in Albania is hard to find”

Faith gives strength
“My faith in God has often given me direction as I stood at crossroads. I have experienced the power of Biblical words and the Lord Jesus is what I live for. On the field, you are dependent on God. I would have died ten times, if God had not protected me. Sometimes it’s just like Peter who stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus. Then you know that you should look at Him, or you drown. God sees the big picture and there are many miracles that have happened.”

“I would have died ten times, if God had not protected me.”

Fundamental principles
“Although I quickly felt at home in Albania, it was also a great challenge and at the beginning very primitive: twice a day access to running water, lots of power cuts in the winter, … I expected that, after the fall of Communism, the country’s economy would change much faster. Over the years I have noticed that change happens slowly, because problems are fundamental and deep due to history, the economy and the absence of God during communism. Romania, for example, is much more accessible for economic growth.”

One of the positive fruits
“One of my proudest achievements relates to a sixteen-year-old severely disabled girl. I got the (grand) parents, after much insistence to be convinced of her ability, that their child is more than a ‘physical problem’. That girl has now written a poem book. Isn’t it great?!”

Ian Loring, the president of the Kenedi Foundation, gives Marleen a honoration award.

Ian Loring, the president of the Kenedi Foundation, gives Marleen a honoration award.

Building the retirement home
“The year of the construction of the brand new retirement home for me was a nervous period. The collaboration and streamlining between different parties and construction supervision cost me a lot of energy. A few years before, we fantasized about an old people’s home on the hill, but history has changed, and now, with the grace of God there is a finished retirement home built and operated to Western European standards.”

Future Picture
“My future is not clear for me. I have a mother of 83 years, who is home alone, and I want to be around for her when she needs me. God knows me and I try not to worry about this. The retirement home is full and currently I focus on taking care of the residents and the construction of a new wing to the nursing home to double the capacity, because that is desperately needed.”

Marleen’s message to future missionaries and volunteers:
“My biggest mistake was that I wanted to do too much and was not dependent on God who sent me. When you hear the personal stories of many Albanians, your first reaction is to think in terms of solutions. Therefore here are three pieces of advice from my side:: 1) Let yourself be guided by God in all situations; What do you address and what not, 2) Do not listen to others who are telling you what to do and 3) Do not be caught by the ‘urgency’.”

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The 28th resident of the retirement home was welcomed yesterday. The 85-year-old lived in Evdoksia permit, but was born in Korça. Her children can’t take care of her anymore and she is unable to look after herself.

20150630 Evdo nieuwe bewoonsterSpecial is that Evdoksia (with headscarves) is raised up in Korça, but went away. Now she is living again in Korça. She slept well on her first night in the home and we hope she will enjoy living at the elderly care home. With her arrival, all the available places in the retirement home are now occupied. For that reason it is planned to expand the retirement home with construction of a new wing.



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The cellar under the safe home for girls is being converted into apartments and will soon accommodate two young adults. They will be accompanied live there.

20150607 basement (4)

At the end of 2014 the idea arose to renovate the basement under the girls house. After making plans, producing a budget and finding suitable contractors, work commenced in mid-June. Currently work is going on to insulate the basement walls and install new electricity and plumbing.

The apartment is approximately fifty square metres and has a bathroom, double bedroom, storage room and living area. A youth group from the Dutch city of Ommen comes in early August to finish the apartment by, among other things decorating, furnishing and installing a kitchen. The group organized in Holland some fundraising events to cover the rebuilding costs.

Independent living
The apartment is due to be opening soon. One 18+ lady in the girls house will supervise the girls who will move in. It is hoped that the apartment will assist the girls in adjusting to adulthood giving them more independence through having to cook, wash themselves and manage their own finances.

20150607 basement (7)20150607 basement (4) 20150607 basement (5)

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The Kenedi Foundation has partnered with Nestor Furxhi in opening a food bank. The project, which is the fourth of its kind in Albania, began in March 2015 when the group began collecting healthy, non-perishable food for distribution. Food is being collected in supermarkets and stored at the Evangelical Church of Korce/Kisha Ungjillore e Korces.

Almost half a million Albanians live below the national poverty line. Many have less than one euro a day for personal expenses. In the Korce area, many people live in poverty. The food bank is designed to help the extremely poor and people in emergency situations.

An additional goal of the project is to provide education in high schools about nutrition and ways to avoid food waste.

20150321 foodback actie korce (6)Motivated by Jesus
Furxhi was inspired to begin the project by the desire to act on the needs that he sees. “My personal example is Jesus who said in Matthew 25:34, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,’” says Furxhi.

Local and international involvement
“Food Bank Albania” was started in November 2013 by a Dutch NGO, Mensenkinderen. The organization cooperates with national and independent organizations in Albania and is operated by volunteers.

We need you!

There are a number of ways to get involved:

  • Be a volunteer
  • Give food
  • Help connect us with your network of people

If you are interested in being a part of this project, contact Nestor Furxhi, or 069 366 1481.

You can Follow the foodbank at Facebook or take a look at Foodbank Albanië Website.

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Villa Kenedi, our elderly care home has been open for a year and a half! What a blessing it has been to the 16 elderly that currently call it home. From their rooms and common areas these old folks see a magnificent view of the Korce valley as they are loved and cared for by our great team of caregivers.

Recently, 2,000 trees were planted around the home and we were able to drill a well and install an irrigation system to keep them healthy and growing. All this because of the generosity of the Dutch Evangelical Broadcasting Company. Soon, not only will the elderly be surrounded by beautiful blooming trees, but they will have fresh Apples, Pears and other good fruit to eat straight off the branch.

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