Hotesh, North Albania


Luckily he was wrong

In a remote mountain village in Albania people first did not believe that IPA would start a project – but they were wrong.


"We will never get any help and it will not be any different with you", the teacher of the second and fourth class in the school of Hotesh ranted. He was clearly galled and the atmosphere during the discussion with IPA representatives was indeed tense. Nevertheless, the visitors showed a lot of understanding. They had just completed an inspection of the small school. Who would not be frustrated to have to teach in this place? As usual, the place was in need of renovation: the roof was in a deplorable condition and there were no proper toilets. The staffroom was needed to house the kindergarten for 27 children and was clearly too small. The teachers therefore had no room to take a break, discuss a problem or deposit their teaching materials. The old wood-stoves were not efficient enough to heat the classrooms – and all this in a village that sees a lot of snow and very low temperatures in winter. And now these Swiss visitors were here, showering him with questions, taking photographs, and speculating about a possible project without making any binding promises. That was the last straw. Forgotten was the Albanian hospitality. Finally, he was beside himself with rage. Too often the people of Hotesh had been ignored or even forgotten.

An unreserved apology


Exactly two years later a minibus with visitors from Switzerland – among them six IPA juniors – was climbing the steep dirt road up to Hotesh and stopped outside the school. In the meantime, an extension with four toilets had been built, the roof had been repaired and there were new desks, chairs and didactic material in the classrooms. There were also new blackboards and new stoves. The small school was almost unrecognizable. The IPA junior team had completed two other projects in the same region so that the situation in the mountain villages had changed enormously. This, of course, was discussed for miles around. "Pllumi has become famous in the area", IPA partner Suela Koçibellinj said proudly when she mentioned the good quality of the work the construction company had done, and which had greatly impressed the villagers.

A polite welcome, obvious embarrassment, followed by a big apology from the teacher. "I was wrong, and I am glad that I was", he admitted. And then he thanked us wholeheartedly, beaming all over his face. And when the IPA visitors, after a tour of inspection, asked him if there were any other problems to be solved, he said that they had already received so much help. "A staffroom? Yes, that would be nice indeed." And when he realised that a small new building for the kindergarten would solve several problems at the same time, scepticism and refusal no longer dominated the mood, but hope and confidence.

Albanian hospitality put to test