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Thousands of Albanian lives have been changed though ADRA’s humanitarian work

Thousands of Albanian lives have been changed though ADRA’s humanitarian work

The newly renovated School in Vrap, Albania.

Retired ADRA Director Restores Rural School in Albania.

January 19, 2016 | Bern, Switzerland. | Victor Hulbert, TED NEWS, CD EUD NEWS.

Twenty-five years on from his initial visit to the former totalitarian state of Albania, Pastor John Arthur, a now retired director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) both in the UK and later the Trans-European Division, sits comfortably in his wheel-chair, rejoicing that a lifetime dream has been achieved. He is also a little surprised, and maybe embarrassed, that a newly rebuilt school in a remote mountain village is now called the John Arthur School.

Vrap is a small village some 38km south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Already retired but still active on behalf of the country, John visited there in 2010 and discovered a run-down building that pupils could only access via a gaping hole in an external wall. He says, "It was just like a scene from the Middle Ages, totally unacceptable for any European country in the 21st century!" He determined to raise funds back in Britain to facilitate a desperately-needed upgrade.

Things were not so straightforward for him as with previous ADRA projects. On his return home, he developed septicaemia and double pneumonia. This led to a severe stroke and then a long and slow path to a partial recovery. But John is not a man to give up easily.

Despite being limited to a wheelchair and only able to type with one finger, he has not stopped fund-raising and planning.

With strong family support, and encouragement from former BBC TV reporter, Bill Hamilton, funds were raised and just before Christmas Bill, together with Maureen Kennedy of the Herts Women's Institute, delivered educational equipment and school uniforms to the totally refurbished school.

Bill and John had first met in Albania where a combined passion to improve the lives of this impoverished nation meant that their combined skills in journalism and fund-raising have led to many successful ADRA projects over the years. As Bill delivered supplies to the school, his mind also went back over the years, noting the change and difference that the many members of the ADRA team have made. Watch his full video report: Albania revisited.

Hashmet Biba, the man in charge of the building project, is just one of at least 100 individuals who have been attracted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a result of ADRA's humanitarian influence. Many thousands more have had their lives changed for the better.

The Vrap school is just one of the many projects that ADRA is currently involved with. From ADRA headquarters in Tirana they run a full health programme. They also work with Roma families, develop youth skills initiatives including working with the Albanian Department of Education to reduce youth violence and bullying in schools, educate people on trafficking and also on health issues. Over the Christmas period they gratefully helped distribute Christmas parcels to Roma children and others in need in cooperation with ADRA Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

ADRA's work may have started in Albania 25 years ago. However, the work it does today is still essential in changing lives and providing hope.

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