Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Promise of a Better Future for Barak School


The Kongresi i Manastirit School (locally known as Barak School) has been a project for almost 2 years now. It was written up as a CBF project 2 years ago and thanks to 2 major donors: Williams Trace Baptist Church in Sugarland, Texas, and Northside Baptist Church in Clinton, Mississippi -- they have a more promising future today.

When the project started this was what we faced:

And their greatest need was new toilets. When the money came from the 2 churches listed above, we were able to begin the "Toilet Transformation" part of the project.

Before Picture

And then --- just a little while later this is what happened.

We also had enough money to provide textbooks for the children that absolutely had no other opportunity to attend school this year. We are in the process of providing some much needed teaching supplies and resource books for the library.
In addition, Heather Goodhue (the social worker for the Fifth Street Elementary School in Jasper, Indiana - and a member of Amy & Christopher's church - Trinity United Church of Christ) sent us MANY children's books to use in the "Future of the Family" Kindergarten and also at Barak School. Since children who attend school in Macedonia are now learning English as their second language, there was a need for children's books in English.
Last week we attended a Barak School Program celebrating "100 Years" --- and a surprise announcement was made. With all the participation there has been with school improvements, the needs of Barak School have come to the attention of the Minister of Education for Macedonia. He announced that funds would be made available for a new addition and improvements to the school in the next budget.
Before you ask, let me tell you that plans were included to MOVE the new toilets to the new building when it is completed (the date for starting and completing the new school has not been finalized yet) - but the impressive thing is that because of the beginning improvements in the school - the situation was brought to the attention of the Minister of Education.
This was a very special day of celebration. We just love it when the contributions of folks like many of you (as with Williams Trace and Northside & Fifth Street Elementary) begin a kind of "chain reaction" in thinking.
The same thing happened several years ago with the little, struggling village of Kamjan. Volunteers (from Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas) came in and began working to help improve one elementary school --- and this led to 2 new schools and improvements in the town itself. Today Kamjan is a beautiful town with clean streets, nice schools and a desire to make improvements in the world around them.
Here are some pictures from the "100 Year Anniversary" Celebration:

The director of the school making the BIG announcement.
Then there were dramatic speeches ---

Songs ----

And Traditional Dances----

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fall Photos

I thought I had better post my photos of fall before it was too late. These were taken over the past month or so at and around our apartment building. Enjoy!!

Our Apartment Building

The Open Area in front of our Building

A Common Sight Around Our Place (she was watching the pidgeons overhead)

The Road and Shops along our Street

The Persimmons Were Really Good This Year
And for the last photo--the view from our back balcony!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jehona Iseni

On Saturday night, we were special guests of the Iseni Family (Agim, Habibe, Sara and Jehona) at the "Nota Fest" competition.

Jehona sang an original song, "Diskrecion" (Discretion) - written and composed by Avni Qaili.

When I figure out how to post a video clip of the performance, I will add that to this posting. But for the moment, here are pictures from Jehona's performance.

Jehona won the "Debutante" Award for "Best First Time Performance." There were 20 competitors and Jehona was #19 on the program. The judges voted and everyone at the concert could vote and when all the votes were counted, Jehona was thrilled with winning the "Best First Time Performance" award.
However, there was more to come. We all went crazy when her name was announced as the "First Place Winner" of the competition. This will open many doors for Jehona to do what she loves the most --- to sing!!

Here she is -- coming on the stage -- as they announced her name!!

And received the award:

And then with her folks, Habibe and Agim, after the concert.

Sara is on the left by Habibe and the 2 girls on the right are Jehona's cousins (on Agim's side of the family).

What a proud night for Dad!!!
We were so privileged to be part of the evening's festivities and to be included in the celebration afterwards. We didn't get home until 2 am -- but what an evening it was!!! We have seen the girls (Sara and Jehona) grow up -- when we first met them they were 7 & 8 years old. What a special family they have -- and we are thrilled to be part of it.
Congratulations, Jehona!!
Uncle Arville and Aunt Shelia