This past summer, my wife and I were fortunate enough to travel overseas to Macedonia to conduct our wedding with my extended family who resides there. Amongst going, we witnessed a wide variety of wealth and poverty. Every where we went, we did our best to help those less fortunate in any way we could. Unfortunately, we have come across a task too big to conquer ourselves.
One morning, my 6 year old cousin, Leonard asked us if we would like to go visit his school, since we had never seen it before. Of course we said okay, and he was gushing with excitement. Upon arriving, my excitement had turned to horror and sadness. Within this school, everything was crumbling and falling apart.
In Macedonia, over half of the population is Macedonians, but the largest ethnic minority filling Macedonia, are Albanians. Macedonia is a new formed country as of 1991, as result of the Yugoslavian war. Macedonia has borders with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west. Although Albanians make up the major minority in Macedonia, they are treated as second-class citizens because of ethnic and religious differences. Both Albanians and Macedonians are taught at this school. One teacher is Albanian and the other is Macedonian. In this town Albanians and Macedonians work together. Especially when it comes to their kids education. Many parents did not have a chance to go to school when they were younger. So they will do whatever they can to make sure their kids get some form of education. Since no help from the government, all funds for the school usually come from the teachers, yet they only make $300 a month, which is barely enough to survive to begin with.
Besides lacking many supplies and necessities to help a school function, it is also severely lacking many necessities for safety and health. In almost every room there is a broken window, yet it is unable to be fixed and boarded up. The one bathroom in the school does not even have a toilet, it has a plastic board on the ground with a circle hole in it, where you have to squat over the hole to use the restroom, in place of a toilet (squat toilet). The winters get colder then New York winters, yet their only source of heat is a wood burning stove that does not sufficiently heat the building. The wood burning stove is in the classroom and does not have any safety precautions around it, while young kids race through the classroom all day, and face the risk of getting burned. The front steps of the building are completely falling apart, and atleast half are completely broken and smashed. This school has no cafeteria, just a kitchen sink and no oven. Whatever the child packs for lunch, is all that the child has for the day to eat. We also found out that the basement of the school is filled with hundreds of snakes, and have yet to be removed because of lack of funds.
With all the funds collected from this campaign, we will fix all the windows, remove all the snakes, renovate the bathroom, fix all the flooring, fix the outside steps, replace all of the doors, install base board heating, freshly paint the inside and outside of the school, provide new desks and chairs, and build a proper kitchen/cafeteria.
My wife and I are returning back to Macedonia this winter, and again this upcoming summer to put this plan into action. We will start this process in the summer time (2018), while the kids are on summer vacation. Many of the parents offered to help with the renovation of the school, since they do not have the funds to offer, but they have all the motivation in their hearts and the vision in their minds, just like we do. After these basic necessities are met for these children, we have hopes to build them a playground with the leftover funds from this campaign, since currently they do not have one at all.
We have a big vision, and we are ready to put it into action. These children cannot feel confident in their journey of education and life, if the steps to the building are broken and the windows are smashed.
Any amount is truly appreciated, and I will post updates and pictures to inform everyone of the journey to creating a better way of life for these children. If you have any questions, please message me. Thank you to everyone for your support.
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