“One day I realised that my son couldn’t even read or do simple math exercises. He’d already finished first grade when I understood that.”
Elsa, 39, has three children – and their education was disrupted first by the earthquake in 2019 in their home of Durres, Albania, and then by the Covid-19 pandemic. Her seven-year-old, Aldo, started to fall behind as soon as he started school.
Elsa said, “Aldo wasn’t able to attend pre-school, which is good at getting them ready for school, and then when he started school, the pandemic happened. Everything closed down and he had to attend first grade online."
“It was totally a new thing for all of us. As parents, we couldn’t even provide internet access for our children. I couldn’t help him and his elder sisters, too. They had a lot of difficulties accessing and understanding the online lessons.”
Remote learning was difficult for children, and many Albanian teachers found it challenging to adapt to new models of teaching, with many of their pupils having problems with internet access or electronic devices.
Aldo lives with his parents, two sisters (aged 18 & 15), and their grandmother in the ex-swamp area of Durres, a place that suffers from frequent flooding and pollution. His father doesn’t have a stable job, but takes temporary jobs where he finds them in construction. He is always out looking for work. His mother Elsa is busy taking care of the home and also takes care of her own mother, who is paralysed and needs a lot of support.
It is challenging for the family to survive on one set of wages – especially as sometimes they don’t even have that, when the father can’t find work. They were thankful to be enrolled in Mission Without Borders’ family sponsorship program. MWB supports families in many ways – from emotional support to educational to material, and giving advice and sharing the gospel. Arjan, MWB’s family worker, visits Aldo’s family regularly, bringing food and hygiene parcels.
Aldo began attending MWB’s After-School Care program, where educational support is given to children who are struggling. Qualified teachers tutor the children, giving individual attention to each child and helping them overcome any difficulties, so that they can become confident in their work.