"The worst seconds of my life"

A mother and son left homeless after the earthquake are blessed by a relationship with sponsors

"Those seconds when the earthquake hit were the worst of my life. They were even worse than the time six years ago when I learned that my husband had died in an accident."

Garantina, 55, and her ten-year-old son Kevin were at home on the eighth floor of an apartment block when the earthquake struck Durres, Albania, on November 26.

Garantina said, “The panic that I felt that I might lose my boy was the most terrifying feeling I’ve ever experienced. I grabbed him and snatched my purse that was nearby.  Going down eight flights of stairs, my head kept hitting the walls that seemed moving towards me. I felt nothing. My only concern was keeping my son safe. As soon as we were outside, I kept checking his head for wounds. I was so grateful; I was in a state of shock, disbelief and felt so relieved. But he was just numb. I tried to comfort him but it was not easy.” 

“When I opened my purse later, I found a letter from our Mission Without Borders sponsor who visited us last year. I always keep it with me. I don’t get correspondence from anyone and it means the world to me. Re-reading this letter warmed my heart that cold and terrifying November night.”

Kevin loves drawing and gave some of his pictures to the Mission Without Borders team.  One of Kevin’s pictures depicts the frightening disintegration of an apartment block, and he has drawn himself standing in front of it. “I am homeless now,” says the speech bubble. The second drawing shows tents in a green field. Stick figures are scattered among them, many with frowns on their faces and tears spilling from their eyes. This is where people like Kevin and Garantina spent many nights, on the rough ground just behind the apartment block. From there, they watched as thieves stole the windows from the building.

“The smile is not yet back on Kevin’s face,” Garantina said. “I don’t know what the future holds but I am glad to know that there are people out there who pray for us and care for us.”  

Garantina and Kevin are now staying with family members nearby. They have no news yet as to when they might be able to return to their home, or if they ever will.  What was clear is that they feel supported and cared for, both by the team in Albania and by their sponsors.

When the Albanian earthquake struck, we sent out a call for emergency relief and so many of you responded so generously, thank you! Because of you, we have been able to intervene in very focused and specific ways to meet the needs of our families, like Garantina and Kevin, devastated by this tragedy.


Early in January, our CEO, and members of the MWB International team travelled to Durres, Albania, where they were able to meet with and encourage the local team and beneficiaries. They describe it as “a humbling experience. 

Thousands of families moved from their homes into temporary locations, including members of our team.  People were sleeping in tents or even in their cars in the days after the earthquake.  Many houses and buildings have been destroyed and families have lost loved ones.  For those whose homes have been condemned or need repairs, there is uncertainty and a long wait.  It is difficult to express the sadness and the discouragement on the faces of the affected people, worried about their families, their children and their future safety. Yet, in this dark and heavy atmosphere a warm light of hope was shining – that came from the kindness, love and support offered by many people around.  Churches who ministered to others right after the tragedy, forgetting about their own needs, people who opened their homes for others and organizations who stepped in to offer their support. Our own team were among those people, and even though they had been impacted themselves, they continued to serve others.”

The MWB Albania team mobilized in a wonderful way, partnering with local churches to offer support to the affected people. They helped families in the process of moving and distributed goods such as blankets, clothing, mattresses and shoes. Most critical though, was the love and care they showed to our affected beneficiaries, visiting them regularly and praying for them and their children. The love of God has been shared in a pure form, and that is, love in action. 

“When I opened my purse later, I found a letter from our Mission Without Borders sponsor… reading this letter warmed my heart that cold and terrifying November night.

 

Tragedies like this, and the resulting stories, such as Garantina’s, demonstrate the power of your giving. Enabled by your sponsorship, we can journey together with a family over a number of years. With relationships at the heart of all we do, you can truly be there when most needed, sharing the love and light of God in the darkest moments.

5,200

More than 5,200 people were without shelter, about 3,000 injured and sadly 52 killed in the earthquake.

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