A Family’s first Christmas

"It will be a night we will never forget."

While Albania has a high unemployment rate, it has an even higher underemployment rate. Many people are paid wages so low that they can't afford basic necessities, while others struggle to find work during the agricultural off-season. Poverty is concentrated in rural areas with inadequate infrastructure, including roads, electricity, and clean water.

Arben is a 44-year-old father of three who is determined to work hard and provide for his family. Every morning, before dawn breaks, he leaves his home and walks three kilometers in the dark to the nearest town in search of work as a lumberjack. There is no lighting along the village road, but his children, the light of his life, are waiting there at home for bread. 

His struggle to provide is getting harder, and two months ago, they welcomed their newborn, Armir. The family lives in a dilapidated, cramped, two-room house that allows in excessive cold and rain due to a damaged front door. Most of the furniture is in poor condition, having been discarded as rubbish by others. An old wood stove is only lit on the coldest days, and everyone huddles in warm clothes to stay warm in the winter.

Dilore, 38, the mother, said, "Baby Armir was born in October, bringing a huge blessing to our family this Christmas. For his brother and sister, Armir is a joy, but for us, his parents, the joy is mixed with concern. Our everyday expenses and the cost of basic necessities are increasing alarmingly."

Then, there is a knock on the door from Blerina, who works for Mission Without Borders (MWB) in Shkoder, the remote region where the family lives. Arben and Dilore's family have been recently enrolled in the family sponsorship program – and Blerina has arrived with a special surprise: an Operation Christmas Love box. Each box is filled with food and other essentials, plus treats and a tract explaining the true meaning of Christmas.

Continue reading below…

When Dilore sees the box, the light returns to her eyes. Just what the family desperately needed: food in time for Christmas. It is the first time they have seen these boxes with symbols of love on them, the first time that Christmas has come differently in their home.

The family has never celebrated Christmas before. Every year, Arben hoped to save up money to buy more food or presents for the special day, but it was never possible.

Ten-year-old Adi is particularly excited. He had always dreamed of the day they could celebrate Christmas – and now it is finally here.

Looking at the pictures on the box, he wondered what could be inside.

"Is there love inside it? What is it? I want to keep it inside the box," he said, concerned that the love might escape and get lost if they open the parcel.

Is there love inside it?


Blerina explained that God's love is demonstrated during Christmas through the gift of his Son, and through the generosity of people who, despite their distance, show compassion to those in need. Operation Christmas Love shows the difference that love can make, even from a distance.

Dilore said, "Tonight, we will go to bed feeling contented and happy. Arben will feel contented when he comes home, too. We will celebrate Christmas for the first time, and it will be a night we will never forget."

Adi falls asleep with a smile on his face, dreaming of all the wonderful things Christmas will bring them. Thanks to Mission Without Borders' supporters, this year, this family's table will be full of food and treats.

With your help, we can bless many more families and help them experience the joy of their first-ever Christmas celebration. Will you join us?

42 000

Operation Christmas Love boxes are planned for distribution to families, individuals and the elderly across our six field countries, including 10 000 to those in war-torn Ukraine.

Give now



Give hope and dignity.