This was the third programme to be opened in Albania. Katjel is a remote village situated in the mountains of eastern Albania, lower down the mountain from our feeding programmes in Rodokal and Homezh. The villagers wanted an Adopt-A-Child programme because they had seen the benefits to the children and communities of Rodokal and Homezh.
2002 seemed the right time to open a programme there and after discussions with the local elders and leaders, the villagers welcomed our team and by the February about 650 children were registered. (There are potentially up to 1000 children who could join the programme, the village being bigger than our other existing programmes.) Initially some of the Muslim Council of the village opposed our team, but many of the villagers stood with our team and demanded the programme be allowed to go ahead! Land was purchased and a building suitable for the needs of the programme was finished in the October.
The children in the village have never known much love or care and live in rough conditions. Social problems, malnutrition and poverty are rife with 70-90% unemployment since communism fell. Most people basically seek to live off the land, which explains in part their dietary deficiencies.
Homezh, Rodokal, Katjel (and also now Kotodesh) are serviced by our facilities in Pogradec, which is a town about three quarters of an hour’s drive down the mountain from Katjel and about five kilometres from the Macedonian border on Lake Ohrid. As with the other programmes, good, nutritional meals are prepared in our kitchens here and transported to the village in insulated containers, twice a week. The children attend the Bible classes after their meal, and our evangelists will return to the village a couple of other days a week to visit the children’s homes and families, and to run activities for the children.