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.