By many hands the work of God is done.

1997 proved to be an extraordinary year in Albania. The civil crisis, which erupted in January 1997, harmed countless lives. In the aftermath of such a situation, despair and hopelessness arise. In such a situation, ordinary men and women quietly rise to help their fellow neighbors in extraordinary ways. As director of Diaconia Agapes (Service of the Lord)I continue to train those men and women who refuse to give up and diligently labor in love to actualize the meaningful programs of Diaconia Agapes. They are the heroes and heroines of this story.

Women in Albania maintain very traditional roles in society. In rural villages, their daily reality is made even more difficult by the crippling economic conditions most families presently face (i.e., families earn approximately eighty U.S. dollars per month). Women still spend several hours a day carrying water from a distant spring to their homes. Bread is the staple of their diet and is made from the wheat the women themselves have grown and milled. A great deal of the agricultural burden also tends to fall on the women’s shoulders. Throughout the year, children spend much of their day watching over their family’s livestock. Due to the great distance between their homes and the school, many children never complete their primary education. Adding to the already heavy burden of the rural way of life, the responsibility for family health care also rests on the women in the Shpati region.

In our ongoing efforts with the Women's Rural Health and Development Program (WRFDP), the Diaconia Agapes team and dedicated medical personnel travel to the villages of Nezhan, Selte, and Sterstan, located deep in the Elbasan-Shpati mountain region. The WRFDP is composed of two phases that include: 1) a primary health phase that brings women together in a community group and offers a series of health education lessons on various topics that address their health needs; and 2) a development phase that brings women together in an organized forum to voice their social and economic needs and offers community development training and small credit loans to fund their proposed projects.

Mission Albania 1998

I need your help! Prayerfully consider renewing [or beginning] your financial commitment so that my mission in Albania may continue. Tax-deductible donations should be made payable to:

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center
P.O. Box 4319
St. Augustine, FL 32085

In the notation area of the check, please write "Penny's Fund."